Hello everyone! How fitting it is that this year's anniversary of same-sex marriage being legalized in the U.S. falls on Monday, one of my posting days! (And if you didn't know that it was the two-year anniversary, well I guess you know now!) Last year I made a list of some good books with LGBTQ representation, and I will include a list at the end of this post, but to shake things up a bit I thought I'd quickly discuss why representation is important in the media, specifically in books. After all, this is a mainly bookish blog.
(If you would like to view last year's post, click here.)
First of all, what is representation? Well, it's exactly what it sounds like. It's the inclusion of people with sexualities and/or genders outside of heterosexuality and the gender binary. It's having a gay character or a trans* character and showing readers that, "hey, LGBTQ people do exist" and "hey, not being cisgender or 'straight' is okay".
(There's also the whole issue about good and bad representation, but that deserves a whole other post on it's own. I'll get to it another day.)
Representation can make all the difference to a reader whose community of people around them is not accepting or not as open-minded. It can finally make a reader become comfortable and okay with who they are, or at least make them safer in what might seem a not-safe world.
One thing that I think most readers can agree with is that something that makes a good book is being relatable. And for those in the LGBTQ community, being able to identify themselves in these characters is everything. Representation is great and important for readers of all ages but I know that it is also extremely important for representation to be present in kid and young adult books. For younger readers who, like I mentioned before, might feel trapped or unsafe or possibly unsure or swayed by what their peers might say, or are just beginning to explore their gender and sexuality.
In addition to these points, representation can raise awareness. After all, books can make things come alive, from stories set hundreds of years ago to what-if stories of the future. Because books hold this incredible power to actualize and establish the seriousness and reality of events, it is so incredibly important for LGBTQ representation (as with any representation for minorities) to be present.
And, sure, maybe you knew that it's okay to be a part of the LGBTQ community, or you're an ally rather than a member. But one of the ideas behind the significance of representation is that it's normalizing being LGBTQ. The idea is that, the more representation that the LGBTQ community receives in the media, the less uncomfortable and foreign these identities will seem to people. And I really don't know any other way to say this except for that being LGBTQ is normal and perfectly okay.
In the end, representation matters because the LGBTQ community is a part of life. And if these movies and shows and books that we're enjoying are supposed to show us the truths about life, then why should the LGBTQ community be excluded from it? After being hidden for so long and only relatively recently coming into the realities of more and more people, it's important for the LGBTQ community to not just be another political issue or "thing" that's just "there". It's important for the LGBTQ community to get proper representation and to be heard.
(Here's that list of books that I promised! I'm only going to include ones I've read, which unfortunately isn't a lot. Not to mention the fact that I know I'm forgetting a good amount. Includes books with any LGBTQ content. SLIGHT SPOILER WARNING!)
- Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
- Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Gavin
- Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
- Rumble by Ellen Hopkins
- How Many Letters Are in Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy
- Drama by Raina Telgemeier
- In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
- (NOTE: Representation very small, although I do believe it normalizes being gay a good bit.)