Okay, that is a pretty random title. What I mean is, books that are about being gay without being "coming out" books. Books that have Black/Asian/Hispanic main characters, but aren't ABOUT being Black/Asian/Hispanic. There have been a bunch of books lately that have non-stereotypical characters which is great, but I think we need more that have that aspect within the story itself. Malinda Lo did this really well in ASH- a beautiful, romantic story where the love interests just happen to both be female.
I just finished the new YA book WILL GRAYSON/WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Levithan. I love both of the authors and I loved the book. It is about two guys named Will Grayson, and each author writes from one of the character's point of view. One WG is gay and one WG is straight but has a gay, football-playing best friend. The writing is excellent and intelligent, the characters are fun and the plot is wacky. You should go and get a copy. I mean like now. We'll wait.
Except for a small "coming out" thread, the gay characters are treated normally and even celebrated. What other book would include a musical called "Hold Me Closer" written by and starring a ginormous football player named Tiny Cooper? It was this "coming out" thread that got me thinking about gay characters in YA books.
Now, I'm not gay, so maybe I shouldn't be talking about this at all. Maybe we do need more books about the moment that the gay character comes out to parents and friends. But I've been thinking that maybe we also need more books where the characters just ARE gay rather than having the plot be ABOUT being gay. Does that make sense?
I think this also carries over to books about minority characters. I adore books where the love interests are of different races but it's barely mentioned and not an issue. Or the main character isn't white, but it has no bearing on the story itself. Justin Larbalestier did this in LIAR where the main character is black just 'cause. So did Jackie Dolamore in MAGIC UNDER GLASS (no, we're not going to talk covers in this post).
I think the more kids (and adults) see these kinds of characters in normal situations, the less of an issue it will become. I was just thinking about how nice it would be if there were no such thing as "coming out". Everyone would just be.
If you're a writer, you should go out and write books like this. If you're a reader, you should go buy them. Feel free to disagree in the comments. Feel free to think I'm an idiot. Feel free to name other books that have gay/minority characters as a normal part of the plot. I'd love to hear what other people think .
On this date: In 1973, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree" tops the charts.