So this week I wanted to feature a bunch of my most favorite bloggers. The gals that I really enjoy reading because they are authoritative, thoughtful, and creative whenever they set out to post on their blogs. I am not sure if my readership is also reading them too but they should be!
This morning we have a somewhat serious topic brought to us by Eli @ Eli to the nth. Eli is "a 24 year old Library and Information Science graduate student at the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Art in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Science in English Education. Yay for books, reading, and writing!" Check her out on Twitter & Goodreads!
And before I go on, I thought a lot about how to preface this topic because it's one that weighs heavily (at least for me) in that I am not an active supporter of GLBT YA literature. I know that any position on this topic can be controversial but I also feel that everyone should have their voice heard. I always want my blog to be an equal playing field for everyone. Which is why I am honored Eli sent this to me, knowing that it could be a touchy thing to talk about. Thank you, Eli.
I was so excited when Jenny asked me to guest blog! I love her blog so much, and I’m sure all of you do too!! When I asked her what she wanted me to talk about, she said that is was completely up to me. So I’ve decided to write about something near and dear to my heart: GLBT fiction, especially within the world of librarian/educators/authors/publishers.
I’ve been an ally of the GLBT community since I was in 10th grade when my sister came out to me. Before that I had read GLBT YA along with all the other genres out there. So suffice to say as I start my career as a librarian I want to make sure that this particular demographic is represented, and represented well, within my community.
I’m sure many of you have heard of David Levithan, and if you haven’t he is the author of such amazing books as Boy Meets Boy, Realm of Possibility, The Lover’s Dictionary, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and many others. He is also an editor with Scholastic, and founded the PUSH Imprint; needless to say he is a big deal in the publishing world. He also writes articles discussing literature, many of which I’ve read in my library classes. One article in particular, “Supporting Gay Teen Literature", really hit home for me; especially the idea that "...being gay is not an issue, it is an identity" (Levithan, 2004, p. 44). For anyone who dedicates him or herself to free expression and the sharing of knowledge, this is a fact that must be branded in the nations minds, as this attitude affects the reality of GLBT people.
For gay teens, coming to grips with who they are in an assumed heterosexual society is one of the hardest things that they'll ever do. Not knowing how family, friends, or even strangers will react is a scary reality. But being able to let them know that it will be better and that there are resources and places to go for a safe space is one thing that we can do to help.
Changing how people think about what being gay means, moving from an "issue" to an "identity", is the first step. But then we have to take it further. Levithan states, "We've reached the point where you don't have to read a gay or lesbian book just because it's a gay or lesbian book. You have to read it because it's a good book in it's own right, about something important" (Levithan, 2004, p. 45). He wrote that eight years ago, and while GLBT books are entering the mainstream more and more, we aren't that much further along. We can't simply think of GLBT books as being only GLBT books when they contain so much more.
This is seen the most within libraries and bookstores. Of course displays are made, and labels are given, in order for the books to be located more easily by their demographic. But I believe that a disservice is being done not just to GLBT books, but to all books if the labels are kept that way. I'd like to see labels such as, "Humor/GLBT/Body Issues", or "Strong Female Protagonist/Fantasy/GLBT". My point is that this isn’t just another GLBT book but a great book with characters that are GLBT.
This is a hard battle. The climate of our country is changing slowly, but it is still an oppressive place for any teens struggling outside of the "societal norm". It is always going to be a battle, but that is why we need to have warrior librarians/educators/authors/publishers, fighting for all voices to be heard and represented within the collection of our community.
Levithan, D. (2004). Supporting gay teen literature. School Library Journal, 50(10), 44-45.