Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Queer Literature for Teens

I wanted to share a great piece I read today entitled Teenagers in Love, about literature that tells the coming out stories of lesbian teens.  The author speaks about several books which detail the struggles of young women coming to acknowledge their identities.  Although at first, for many, these battles take place privately and intimately, the characters (and many of us actual lesbians) have to come to terms with the political implications of those private yearnings.  This clash is difficult for many, as we watch our straight friends seamlessly transitioning from the very personal time of budding sexuality to the more public displays of first boyfriends and first kisses.  Although these transitions are not always smooth, they are met with acceptance from wider society (for the most part).  Folks with marginalized identities, on the contrary, inevitably have a moment of realization that these feelings once experienced and mulled over only in ones own head must be expressed outwards.  At that moment a young (or older) teen is also confronted with the political implications of such inclinations - shame, and a nagging sense that we are doing something wrong.  Although many of these books are meant to imbue young queers with a sense of strength as the protagonist battles seemingly insurmountable opposing forces to come out proud, and with a smile, the reality is often, and unfortunately, more difficult (and more mundane).  

It's extremely important for those of us who have come out to tell our stories (along with those of us who can't), with all of their foibles and boring details, as we have been written about and talked about and conjectured about by others for so long.  We should work to encourage libraries, publishers, and readers to invite and support peoples stories of being queer so that these stories can be made available to younger teens of all identities.  Coming out stories can be successful, devastating and everything in between, but one thing they all are is ongoing.  Read the piece and tell me your thoughts!  


  1. Thank you for posting this. I just wrote a short blog where I linked to the article and back to you.

    I think this is a place in modern YA fiction that is lacking and as a writer I find myself burning to see if I can tap into it at all. I don't know if I'm the right one to write something in this genre, so don't worry, I haven't started putting any words on paper, but I do have love and compassion for the situation of the human spirit--and I include self-knowledge, truth of identity, and peace about sexual orientation in that category, and I think that's a step in the right direction.

    So thank you for sharing. I always enjoy reading what you post.

  2. Thank you for your thoughts and for sharing on your own website! You're right, this is a certain area for improvement and maybe one of us reading will be able to fill it.