by Rachel Gold
It is 2015 and LGBT YA fiction is very much on the rise with 148 books on Goodreads and counting. There was a 59% increase amongst mainstream publishers from 2013 to 2014 in regards to publishing LGBT YA books.
Plus, in recent months there has been a huge emphasis in the news and media about transgender equality, which has further opened the stage for transgender books, especially ones for children, as the New York Times notes: “This year, children’s publishers are releasing around half a dozen novels in a spectrum of genres, including science fiction and young adult romance, that star transgender children and teenagers.”
There are also independent publishing houses that specialize specifically in LGBT fiction, such as Duet Books, a new young adult publisher that specializes in “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer fiction.”
What accounts for this change? Many factors, including recent the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, and increased awareness of LGBT youth. Three Rooms Press is part of this unfolding story, with the upcoming release of Weird Girl and What’s His Name, an extraordinary LGBT YA novel by Meagan Brothers coming out in October.
When Meagan was asked why she writes LGBT YA, she said, “On the one hand, I don’t think of myself as writing LGBT YA. I write a story, and a character might be queer or not. For most of my friends growing up and myself, we were one of those letters, so that was just part of my world as a teenager and as a college student.
“On the other hand, especially lately, when it seems like every week brings a new story of a kid being kicked out of their house or committing suicide because they’re gay or trans and they’re being excluded from their families and bullied in their schools, I feel like I really need to include these kids in my stories. It may seem naive, but it’s my hope that maybe one of those kids who feels so isolated and alone might read one of my stories and know, okay, you feel excluded right now, but it won’t always be that way. You are seen, you are included, you are loved, and you are definitely not alone.”
Similarly, another LGBT YA author, David Levithan, who wrote Two Boys Kissing and Boy Meets Boy said in an interview with The Independent, “These are exciting times in YA publishing…We’re looking for diversity, and also diversity within that diversity. The notion that there is just one gay story to tell is as ridiculous as suggesting there is just one straight story. We need so many more voices.”
Now that the Supreme Court has made gay marriage legal, there are sure to be even more LGBT books, for all ages, not just young adult but children and adults too. Our hope is that in 2015 and the years to come there will be a continued diverse and array of voices because the struggle to find oneself is universal.