How is the skewed youth literature?
It has become more and more common with characters associated with the LGBTQ environment in youth books, and it has become more accepted to be gay or lesbian in society than before. In recent times, we have seen changes in what the authors focus on when writing books about skew young adults. In the past, novels about skewers have often focused on a complicated “get out of the closet” process. The trend is now that the youth book authors try to break with this kind of narrative, rather concentrating on the actual love story.
June is often connected with the start of the summer vacation, ice-cream in the sun and school-free. June is also the month many connect with the annual celebration of the LGBTQ community, better known as Pride. Several parades, festivals and celebrations of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and hesitant are organized in many places in the world, including Norway. Oslo Pride begins on June 23th, and is a ten-day festival celebrating skewed love, diversity and where everyone is encouraged to be exactly who they are. The same challenge is also visible in the youth books, and especially in stories where the protagonist is slightly different from the heterosexual norm.
More than her sexual orientation
In the world of literature, we can see that there has been a twist in the content of LGBTQ youth books in recent years. It is a clear shift away from books that only deal with sexual identity, getting out of the closet and being the one who is. Several of the year’s youth books show that there can be nothing more than their sexual orientation, and describes how the layering is only part of the whole, and not the entire identity. These books help to counter stereotypes, and form literary examples for young readers.
Anna Ahlunds Only you are an example of this. Ahlund’s book is about the love of two boys, but the author has deliberately avoided bringing the problem of what friends, family and society think about the sexual orientation of the two boys. The Heteronorm has been wiped out, and no one commentes on the feelings of the two young boys for each other. They simply get in love. The same goes for the characters Anna and Lollo in Sara Lövestam’s book As fire . The book describes the crushing girls in between and how they, despite inequalities, spend a summer in each other’s company. Like Ahlund, Lövestam chooses to focus on the love between the two girls as people rather than focusing on the likes of a person of the same sex. Here, the challenges are rather related to class than the girls have feelings for each other.
To get out
Still books are published on the difficult “come out” experience, and examples of recent books with this kind of action are Simon and the Gay Sapiens agenda of Becky Albertalli, Leon’s secret of Tor Fretheim and Art to be Normal by Lisa Williamson. TV shows to come out are also still applicable, now the last seen in the document series Out of the closet at NRK and in Isak’s season of Skam . Novels focusing on being the one who stands out from the heterosexual norm is important because they give the reader an opportunity to get into the situation of others, create acceptance in society and show what kind of adversity must be overcome in order to all shall be equal.
However, youth books with heterosexual protagonists and protagonists from the LGBTQ community are long-lived. For example, this is seen on the front pages of the books. It is rare to see two people of the same sex in an embrace on book cover, as opposed to youth books focusing on crush between boy and girl. Fortunately, there are authors who fight to get the books they have written to fit the book cover. Meredith Russos If I Was Your Girl is an example of this. Russo, who writes about being transgender and born in the wrong body, has chosen to use an image closely related to the story she tells. In the American edition of the book, a transsexual model on the cover has been used to link the book’s action more to reality. The author lives today as a transfigurer.
Other book covers, such as the art of being normal by Lisa Williamson and Simon and the gay sapiens agenda by Becky Albertalli, show relatively neutral drawings on the covers. Williamson has gone for a drawing of a girl body breaking out of a boy’s body to illustrate that she writes about experiencing herself as a girl but born with male genital organs.
The way forward
It is nice to see that youth literature develops in line with the outside world. But there is still a strong need for stories that focus on the “get out” process, because it can still be challenging to be the one in some environments and places in the world.
The literature blog wishes you all a good pride!