Friday 26 July 2013

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Discussion: We Need More than Just LGBTQ YA Novels

LGBTQ YA monthThere's something I've been thinking as I've been doing my research and reading for the Month. How little I understand certain LGBTQ identifties (i.e. genderqueer and asexual). This is not down to the fault of authors, that the books I've been reading having done a good enough job, but more that it's going to take more than one or two books on a particular indentity for me to fully get what they are. I have a basis of an idea on them, but I still have questions and things I'm not sure of. Sure, you can say there need to be more books written with these characters, and I'd agree with you, but I think we need more than that.

Why are these identities so rarely heard about? I'm sure we can agree that people who identify as asexual, genderfluid, etc, are normal, in the same sense that people of different race, religion, nationality, etc are normal. So why don't we know about them? Why aren't we talking about them? I could be wrong, but maybe there are authors who are just as clueless as me. How can we expect them to write books about something they know nothing about, or possibly haven't even heard of?

And if I have trouble understanding and am only just discovering certain identities, and if we take the idea that authors are in the same boat, can we really expect people in general to know about them, including those who might actually identify as one of them? There could be people out there who are experiecing things and feeling a certain way, and have no idea why. Can you imagine what that's like? Not knowing why you feel the way you do? Possibly feeling that your not normal, that something is wrong with you? And not having a clue who to turn to or where to get answers, because you don't even know that is exists beyond you?

There needs to be more discussion. I think we're potentially alienating these people by not knowing or understanding these identities. I know we still have a fair way to go when it comes to the world being completely accepting of the gay community, but how can we hope for the world to be accepting of all when we barely know about certain identities? You can say that we should be accepting anyway, without knowing every tiny detail about a person, and would agree with you, but we don't live in that perfect world. I do believe that understanding goes a long way to help with acceptance.

I don't have the answers. I don't know how we can start people talking. The only idea I had is that perhaps we should be learning about the diverse people there are in the world at school, like in the UK's PSHE lessons (Personal, Social and Health Education - or has the class' name changed since I was at school?). Perhaps if we're taught when we're old enough to understand, yet young enough to not be making stupid, unfunny, insulting jokes and start spouting insults, in a few generations, we'll all know, we'll all understand, we'll be more accepting? But if not that, I don't know. I don't know how to make things better.

All I can say is, authors, please keep writing these stories.


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