Publishers Embrace LGBTQ Characters in Teen Novels

By , 17, Contributor
February 4, 2013

In the past, publishers of LGBTQ young adult literature were usually small presses and probably not part of the major companies that dominate the industry. However, major publishers, such as Simon & Schuster, are publishing more novels for teens that feature LGBTQ main characters, like Malinda Lo’s Ash, published in 2009, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, published in 2012. I am J by Cris Beam—published by Little, Brown and Company—features a transgender teen who tries to come to terms with who he is and find his place in the world. Similarly, author David Levithan has been making a splash with his novels that are both about characters who are heterosexual—such as Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which Levithan co-wrote—and characters who are gay—in his novel, Boy Meets Boy. Even earlier in 2001, Viking published Empress of the World by Sara Ryan, a story about friendship and being bisexual.

Although the inclusion of LGBTQ characters is not necessarily new, it now seems that more popular and mainstream young adult novels have LGBTQ characters. With this, readers of young adult fiction will hopefully start to realize that the default sexual orientation of a character in a novel isn’t necessarily heterosexual. And, most importantly, having LGBTQ characters will allow teens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer to see their sexual orientation or gender identity represented. This change in publishing is definitely exciting especially since major publishers, which have an impact, are taking the lead. I hope that this will not only have an impact on the way stories are told but also the way society in general thinks. Let’s read on and open our minds!


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