Very recently, and over the past year or so, we have seen authors come out on Twitter and elsewhere online:
- YA author Juno Dawson, formerly James Dawson, came out as transgender back in October 2015.
- For Queer Romance Month, to talk about his own gender identity, NA (and soon to be YA author!) author Elliot Wake, formerly Leah Raeder, wrote Why I Wrote Cam Girl, then on 1st January, came out as transgender.
- YA author Chelsea M. Cameron also chose the beginning of the year to come out.
- And Ashley Herring Blake, whose debut YA novel Suffer Love is published this year, came out as bisexual last year.
Not necessarily. Of course, it is always down to the author to choose whether or not they disclose their identity/ies. But for those who do, they're doing something wonderful; not only are they saying to the world, "This is me, this is who I am," they're also showing their readers who might identify the same way that they are not alone.
We live in a world that isn't as tolerant and accepting as it can be. You hear stories, you read books, about how awful can be to those who are "different", of the danger these people face by being open about who they are. It must be a scary experience for LGBTQ+ teens to tell their family and friends who they are. But then they see the authors they love publicly announcing who they are, standing proud and embracing their true selves. How inspiring must that be? These authors aren't friends of mine, they aren't people I know, but I am so proud and grateful to these people to putting something so personal out there, and so inspired by their courage, though I myself am a straight cis-gender woman.
But there are also the fact that these authors write #ownvoices novels, or may write them in the future, and that is so hugely important. With marginalised groups being so underrepresented in fiction in general, #ownvoices representation is so dearly needed, so people can find accurate representation of themselves in the books they read. That's the most important aspect of #ownvoices, but also those of us who don't identify as the authors do can learn and understand more what it is to be, for example for this post, someone who identifies as lesbian, bisexual, transgender from someone who actually knows.
So it's so wonderful when our authors are forthcoming with their identities, because they can make such a huge difference to someone's life. And for those people, I'm hugely thankful to these incredible authors for being so honest and awesome. Thank you.