LGBTQ* refers to the lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans/queer/and other community.
It basically includes everyone that doesn't identify with the gender they were assigned at birth and/or isn't heterosexual.
What the problem is
If you haven't really paid attention to the lgbtq community before, you probably didn't even know it existed.
In the common media, all we get is gay representation in form of mostly homosexual men. I mean, there's a token fashion-savvy gay best friend in every romantic comedy movie set in New York. I didn't even know there were such things as pansexuality, asexuality, or even genderqueerness before I dove into the topic after reading David Levithan's "Boy Meets Boy" at university.
And this is the root of the problem. I'm not saying it's your fault if you had/have no idea what all these terms mean. It's not your fault that you've been brought up in a world were everyone is assumed to be heterosexual and identifying as either male or female.
There are very few books that deal with gender and sex without exclusively being about gender and sex. Most books including LGBTQ* characters are also about coming out. I'm not saying we don't need these, but I'm saying that we need more books that casually feature LGBTQ* characters.
Why not make your protagonist a bisexual woman? Why not make them indifferent to sexuality or identifying as indifferent to the concept of gender? It sounds far-fetched, but people like this do exist, and there are a lot of them. You'd be surprised as to how many people (even your friends) probably aren't heterosexual. We just assume that everyone is because we are bombarded with white heterosexual characters in all media all the time.
Take a look at popular culture!
Can you name a single super popular book with a main character that identifies as other than straight, or is simply assumed to be heterosexual without needing to mention it? Probably not, if it's not a book about specifically queer issues.
I don't understand what's so difficult about this. You may argue that most writers tend to write what they know about and maybe might shoo away from writing about LGBTQ* characters when they're heterosexual themselves. (Just the fact that I have to pretend for the sake of this argument that every writer is heterosexual is ridiculous...)
Well, I have news for you:
The job of a writer is to make stuff. They make stuff up, and sometimes even base that stuff on real events. If they do, they have to do some research. You can't tell me that someone is able to research everything about 18th century France to write a historical romance, but can't be bothered to do some research on queer issues to make it a novel about an asexual in 18th century France? Well, if you can't do that, you probably shouldn't be a writer.
I'm not saying that every writer has to write about queer characters, I'm saying that instead of jamming out the 16th book about a white straight girl falling in love with a mysterious dark-haired poetry-loving semi villain boy, they should try writing about a white gay boy falling in love with that same mysterious dark-haired poetry-loving semi villain boy.
LGBTQ* people exist and I think they are worth representation just as much as heterosexuals.
Here are some queer YA reads to get you started:
(links leading to goodreads)
- Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (lesbian)
- Luna by Julie Anne Peters (transgender)
- Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (gay)
- Ash by Malinda Yo (lesbian)
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (intersex)
- Every Day by David Levithan (pansexual, agender)
What are your thoughts on LGBT* reads?
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