Gay characters in non-gay stories

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Anna L.

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The question makes no sense to me. I'll illustrate why by switching out one word: "I know that there are plenty of christian characters in YA. My thing is, how many of them appear in books that aren't about the character being christian?"

Being gay is only one facet of a person, just like religion and race. All these things have meaning and change the way the character acts, but none should be treated as the be-all-end-all of a character.

So basically, I'm just saying what people above have been saying. Don't made a huge deal out of it, just do whatever you need for your story.
 

AyJay

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Robo (and others): I'm curious about what titles/authors you consider preachy and heavy handed with gay teen portrayals.

I haven't read LGBT YA extensively, more than most readers though, and the only thing that comes to mind is Alex Sanchez' Rainbow Boys series. I liked it overall, but there were definitely some storylines that fell a bit flat because they seemed to be solely for the purpose of education.

(it occurs to me this may be less an LGBT genre issue and more a YA genre issue, i.e. how sexuality and other "sensitive" topics are handled)
 

Becca C.

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I haven't read LGBT YA extensively, more than most readers though, and the only thing that comes to mind is Alex Sanchez' Rainbow Boys series. I liked it overall, but there were definitely some storylines that fell a bit flat because they seemed to be solely for the purpose of education.

I agree about Rainbow Boys. There are a lot of Public Safety Announcement kind of plot points, but they were some of the first real YA books to come out and say "Hey, we're ABOUT homosexuality!" (with a title like Rainbow Boys, too... that's pretty bold!)

And that was fine for the era. Early 2000s was still early days in the LGBT rights movement. But I think now we're starting to need books that move beyond that and beyond the coming-out theme. Books like Gone, Gone, Gone (which I'm beyond excited to read!). And, if I may say so, books like the ones I write.
 
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Shady Lane

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When I was at SCBWI someone asked Arthur A. Levine about his opinions on where gay characters were right now in YA, and if there were too many coming-out stories (which I'm going to say is what the OP means, basically, by "gay stories"). And he said...yes. We need other stuff. But there is always a need for coming out stories. As long as there are new teenagers coming out, we need new coming out stories.

So don't hate, pretty much.
 

thebloodfiend

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There's always a need for any type of story that can help a person overcome difficulties in their life, but over-saturation is never a good thing. There are different coming out experiences. And so far, 90% of the LGBTQ books that I've read deal with the same coming out experience. It's not a question of them dealing with gay characters. I don't care. It's a question of me reading the same story over and over again to the point that they've bored me to death. And yes, I'm looking at you Alex Sanchez. I respect what you've done, but write a new story every once and while.

All experiences aren't the same. I talked about this over on Goodreads with a fellow black reader. We're pretty much fed up with reading about the "urban" experience as if that's the only experience black people can go through.
 

Shady Lane

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Ha, I agree about Alex Sanchez, gotta say. Though I appreciate so hard that he's a groundbreaker.

Thiiiis is why I love David Levithan? Gone, Gone, Gone would not have had a chance of existing (in my brain, in the world, in anywhere) without Love Is The Higher Law omg guys go read it.
 

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Ha, I agree about Alex Sanchez, gotta say. Though I appreciate so hard that he's a groundbreaker.

Thiiiis is why I love David Levithan? Gone, Gone, Gone would not have had a chance of existing (in my brain, in the world, in anywhere) without Love Is The Higher Law omg guys go read it.

That's what I'm talking about. Levithan has some really amazing books. Like The Realm of Possibilities. And then he has Naomi and Ely. Ugh.

I'd recommend The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd if I didn't hate it so much.

Instead, I'll rec The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is the book that made me want to write YA. Plus, Patrick(who I will call the gay wonder teen) has a personality.
 
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Shady Lane

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Love, love, love Perks. It's the reason I do Rocky Horror.

I don't tend to like David's collaborations. By which I mean I can't get through them.
 

Becca C.

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Love, love, love Perks. It's the reason I do Rocky Horror.

I don't tend to like David's collaborations. By which I mean I can't get through them.

Does that include Will Grayson, Will Grayson? :( I love it to pieces! I mean, John Green and D-Lev?! Can it get any better?

I read The Vast Fields of Ordinary recently and I really, really liked it, but... the ending. Why so crappy, Nick Burd? The rest of it was awesome!
 

thebloodfiend

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Does that include Will Grayson, Will Grayson? :( I love it to pieces! I mean, John Green and D-Lev?! Can it get any better?

I read The Vast Fields of Ordinary recently and I really, really liked it, but... the ending. Why so crappy, Nick Burd? The rest of it was awesome!

I hated the entire book, but that's neither here nor there.

I'm on the fence about Will Grayson. Levithan writes angsty teens in such an awesome way. But I hated the way that Maura was treated. And John Green's Will bored me to pieces.

The book should have been called We Love Tiny, because seriously, what else was the book about? Okay, that's mean. I admit it.
 
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Shady Lane

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Does that include Will Grayson, Will Grayson? :( I love it to pieces! I mean, John Green and D-Lev?! Can it get any better?

I read The Vast Fields of Ordinary recently and I really, really liked it, but... the ending. Why so crappy, Nick Burd? The rest of it was awesome!

The ending keeps me from recommending it to people. And also made me write my post on happy endings. Seriously, people. No terrible things happening in the last 5 pages. wtf. That's the part where you're supposed to be recovering from the bad things that already happened.

Adore WG/WG.
 

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Love, love, love Perks. It's the reason I do Rocky Horror.

I don't tend to like David's collaborations. By which I mean I can't get through them.

I love his collaborations! ;)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is wonderful, of course. But I also love his collabs with Rachel Cohn. And I'm actually not a big fan of Rachel Cohn's solo novels. But she does great stuff with David, in my opinion.
 

Shady Lane

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Yeah, it's Rachel Cohn's writing that doesn't work for me, definitely.
 

Becca C.

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And the Cohn/Levithan collabs are kind of all the same. They've developed their own formula. It would be cool if they switched it up and David wrote the girl and Rachel Cohn wrote the boy, or something. That would be interesting.
 

thebloodfiend

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I don't like the way either of them write their female characters. But Levithan is indeed the stronger writer. Parts of Nick and Norah and Naomi and Ely had me staring at the page in astonishment to how random they were.
 

Shady Lane

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I agree that D-Lev's girls aren't the best, but I mean really who am I to talk.
 

thebloodfiend

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More womenz is nice every now and then. But I liked Claudia. She is one of the better female characters that I've read this year. God, I've read a lot of bad books this year.
 

lenore_x

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Another thing to take into account is that falling in love for the first time is a really common theme in YA, for obvious reasons. And when the person you're falling in love with for the first time is the same sex as you, that tends to involve coming out.
 

Gary Clarke

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Sól and Ashkr in book two of the Moorehawke trilogy are gay without that being the focus of their contribution to the plot. (Well - their love for each other is a major focus - but not the fact that they are both men) I'm hesitant to throw a word in here though because they are adults and support characters - I think maybe you're looking for teens and main characters?

I recall Harry Harrison writing a gay couple of MC's many many years ago ( back in the stone age when I was in school. So it would have been quite ground breaking in that time.) My memory is hazy, but I seem to recall going through the entire book reading it as an adventure, and then, only at the end, it being revealed that the two male MCs were a couple. Wish I could remember what book that was!
 

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I recall Harry Harrison writing a gay couple of MC's many many years ago ( back in the stone age when I was in school. So it would have been quite ground breaking in that time.) My memory is hazy, but I seem to recall going through the entire book reading it as an adventure, and then, only at the end, it being revealed that the two male MCs were a couple. Wish I could remember what book that was!

That's Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers.
 

Gary Clarke

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That's Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers.

THANK YOU!!!! Jeepers, it's so long ago that title doesn't even ring a bell. I'll have to go look it up :) I remember a friend bought it for me because (as she told me after) I was so into 'all that gay rights stuff' LOL!
 
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