On Twitter, I recently asked friends to suggest blog topic ideas for me. My creativity had run dry for blog post ideas. I suppose my muse was only interested in my fiction writings and had no desire to assist me with the blog for a while. While the muse has returned since my Twitter post went live, there were so many good ideas presented that I just had to use some of them.
Felyx Lawson, author of L.I.F.E., suggested that I write a post about what I want to see more in LGBTQIA novels. While I am an author and can write any thing I feel that a story needs, I’m also a reader. I don’t just write–I read, too! There are certain things I’d love to see more of when I read other people’s books.
Readers–even those who also write–have opinions about books. Imagine that...
Overall, just seeing more LGBTQIA novels is great. Ask someone older than me who identifies as LGBTQIA, and they will tell you how they struggled to find a single story that accurately represented them in their youth.
Even if there was a book, it was terrifying to buy a copy or ask for it at the library. Buying books online has only been somewhat common for around 20 years. The teenagers of my generation (and those that follow) are the only ones who have benefited from relatively anonymous shopping for LGBTQIA materials.
Thank to the internet, fan fiction posted on personal sites, sites like Archive of Our Own, Wattpad, Tumblr, and even Amazon, it has been increasingly easier for young LGBTQIA people to find stories that better fit their human experience. All without worrying about judgment from others, coming out before they are ready, or having to travel to an LGBTQIA bookstore the next town over.
Publishers big and small have seen the market boom for LGBTQIA books–and realized the expendable income LGBTQIA people are willing to part with for stories that align with their lives.
Things are definitely getting better for LGBTQIA people as far as the publishing world goes.
However, there is still specificity to LGBTQIA experiences that a lot of popular books are missing.
Larger bodies, people of color, disabled characters, immigrants, age gap, polyamory, and basically any letter in LGBTQIA that is not the L and the G need more representation. Furthermore, they need more genuine representation, preferably by authors who write Own Voices.
Not that I mind reading about an MC who is a hot jock or a slender twink or a lipstick lesbian. I don’t mind the billionaire falling in love with the hot commoner who doesn’t know how hot they are stories. Any story told well that is entertaining is in danger of meeting my eyes.
But what about the jock who falls in love with the chunky guy? Or the two chunky guys finding love? Where are my shades of skin tones from alabaster to onyx? And can the stories simply be about the romance without there being the undertone of: “will the hot guy love me even though I’m fat?“
I’m guilty of that last one, so no shade to any writers.
While I’ve been reassured that many heavier people often are worried that their body type will make people feel a certain way about them, I would also love to see representation of fat people who are comfortable in their skin and know their worth as romantic and sexual beings.
I want to read about an LGBTQIA immigrant and throuples. Why is love between three people any less valid than that between two people? I want accurate trans, bisexual, intersex, and (for God’s sake) asexual rep.
I don’t want every POC I read to be “light-skinned” to make them more palatable to white readers. Ebony and onyx and copper and golden and dusky and olive–all skin tones are gorgeous. Every shade deserves their LGBTQIA story to be told. And I’m desperate to read them.
I’m tired of seeing age gap romances being viewed as “taboo.” Two consenting adults finding love should be celebrated–not judged. There need to be more romances where adults (regardless of arbitrary characteristics) are allowed to love each other and have their happy ending.
Disabled characters are lacking in all publishing, as far as I’m concerned, but especially in LGBTQIA stories. In two upcoming books, I have a disabled character who uses a wheelchair and another who is non-verbal due to a congenital condition. I’ve written stutters and lisps and ASD–and I want to see more disabled characters without the disability being the only plot point to the story.
I want to see a broad spectrum of LGBTQIA people and learn about what it’s like for them to be LGBTQIA…and themselves.
I want to read how they love, how they mourn, how they make money, deal with family issues, find acceptance. Because, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I want my media to more accurately represent what my life looks like. It’s not all Caucasian gay twinks and jocks walking around and falling in love at prom. Black, brown, short, tall, thin, fat, with a range of abilities and means and privileges (or lack thereof), accents and religions, and ages and ethnicities. Stories I’ve read that meant the most to me are not just the well-written ones that were the most entertaining–they were the ones that made me consider how I think about people different from me. They challenged me to consider what it’s like to be “othered” in a way that I am not familiar with in my daily life.
They taught me compassion, empathy, and sympathy. Those stories touched the deepest part of me that is human.
The best stories taught me about life.
And in life, I want to see the rainbow.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,