Something that has always been important to me is finding novels that do things a little differently, one of the main things that I am always on the hunt for are novels with LGBTQ+ characters, because – say it with me kids – representation is important! So this is the beginning of a list of (mostly YA – they seem to do this pretty well) novels that include (well-represented) LGBT+ characters:
- Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertelli
- A coming of age story about a gay teenage boy as he tries to navigate young love, coming out and the typical friendship quarrels of teenagers. It includes great lines such as ‘White shouldn’t be the default anymore than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.’.
- This is one of my favourites because the characters seem so realistic and I absolutely fell in love with Simon and his story. I couldn’t put it down because I was trying desperately to work out who Blue was before Simon did (not exactly difficult, he’s very slow on the uptake!)
- This novel is also at the top of my list because it not only includes a gay relationship at its heart (that is presented in the sweet and overly-romantic way common for straight couples in YA novels) but one the main characters is a gay POC which is something that is not often found!
- Also, it has a happy ending! No ‘bury your gays’ trope here! Just good, old-fashioned super cute boyfriends
- Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
- Gay historical fiction? What more do you want?
- It tells the story of Achilles and Patroclus before the battle of Troy in the way that Homer was presenting it (read as: gay) unlike the cop-out of the film Troy when Patroclus was made Achilles’ cousin…
- Excellently written and beautifully presented, if you have any interest in Ancient Greece read this because it’s perfect! The story is perfect, the setting is perfect, the language is perfect… just, please! Read this book!
- There is character death – if you have a general idea of the story of the Iliad then you’ll know that it’s coming – but it is not because of their sexualities but actually because of war so it’s still not ‘bury your gays’
- Pretty Things – Sarra Manning
- A story of a group of teenagers discovering who they are, their sexualities are not the sole focus but it does play an important role in two of the characters’ lives.
- Charlie is gay, he spends the novel supporting his friends and trying not to fall in love with straight boys (spoilers: it doesn’t work). Daisy first presents herself as gay but as the novel progresses she discovers that perhaps this label is not the most appropriate. This is actually really important representation because whilst the word bisexual is never actually used to have a character that begins with the label gay but then discovers that their sexuality is a lot more fluid than that is amazing! So it’s great for anyone that has ever questioned their sexuality.
- The other two characters are straight but they are both incredibly supportive of their friends and they also discover who they are throughout the novel. Particularly Brie, she begins the novel as very much in Charlie’s shadow and ends it centre stage, literally!
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- Not actually one I’ve read but one that I have heard nothing but good things about.
- It is the story of two boys working out who they are and who they want to be. It follows the life of Aristotle, an angry teenager with a brother in prison and Dante who sees the whole world a little differently.
- It is apparently brilliantly written from Aristotle’s point of view and develops so naturally and so perfectly from a beautiful friendship to a beautiful romantic relationship that one cannot help but adore it.
- I, for one, cannot wait to read it!
The reason that I have chosen to do this is because this is a topic that is incredibly important to me. I feel that it’s really important to have novels that deal with LGBT+ themes in a mature and cohesive way without always making it the centre of the story. Most of these are YA novels in which the main focus is on the characters discovering themselves but that isn’t all we need. What we need are novels of different genres with LGBT+ characters. Give me gay detectives and non-binary vampire hunters!
And it will happen, but for now we should appreciate the excellently written ones that we do have currently because they’re still brilliant novels with lovable characters even if the main focus is their sexuality.
But it is so important for young, LGBTQ+ kids to see people just like them living lives that aren’t solely based around sexuality or gender identity. Because, I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, representation is so important!