By Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith
We are published authors who co-wrote a post-apocalyptic young adult novel. When we set out to find an agent for it, we expected to get some rejections. But we never expected to be offered representation… on the condition that we make a gay character straight, or cut him out altogether.
Our novel, Stranger, has five viewpoint characters; one, Yuki Nakamura, is gay and has a boyfriend. Yuki’s romance, like the heterosexual ones in the novel, involves nothing more explicit than kissing.
An agent from a major agency, one which represents a bestselling YA novel in the same genre as ours, called us.
The agent offered to sign us on the condition that we make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation.
Rachel replied, “Making a gay character straight is a line in the sand which I will not cross. That is a moral issue. I work with teenagers, and some of them are gay. They never get to read fantasy novels where people like them are the heroes, and that’s not right.”
The agent suggested that perhaps, if the book was very popular and sequels were demanded, Yuki could be revealed to be gay in later books, when readers were already invested in the series.
We knew this was a pie-in-the-sky offer—who knew if there would even be sequels?—and didn’t solve the moral issue. When you refuse to allow major characters in YA novels to be gay, you are telling gay teenagers that they are so utterly horrible that people like them can’t even be allowed to exist in fiction.
LGBTQ teenagers already get told this. They are four times more likely than straight teenagers to attempt suicide. We’re not saying that the absence of LGBTQ teens in YA sf and fantasy novels is the reason for that. But it’s part of the overall social prejudice that does cause that killing despair.
We wrote this novel so that the teenagers we know—some of whom are gay, and many of whom are not white—would be able, for once, to read a fun post-apocalyptic adventure in which they are the heroes. And we were told that such a thing could not be allowed.
After we thanked the agent for their time, declined the offer, and hung up, Sherwood broke the silence. “Do you think the agent missed that Becky and Brisa [supporting characters] are a couple, too? Do they ever actually kiss on-page? No? I’M ADDING A LESBIAN KISS NOW!”
- cleverghoul likes this
- intellectual-carrot reblogged this from takenoverbyrocknroll
- vulpix reblogged this from cheshirecaticus
- cheshirecaticus reblogged this from justjasper
- kicontradiction reblogged this from singingtomysoul and added:
- al-hazel reblogged this from takenoverbyrocknroll
- tamsinskye reblogged this from kendallmeow
- kendallmeow reblogged this from justjasper
- updowncontinue reblogged this from moniquill
- moniquill reblogged this from maddlington
- curmudgeonlaine reblogged this from rollingsreliable
- eleanorrvance reblogged this from rollingsreliable
- alethiosaur likes this
- brainfruits likes this
- rollingsreliable reblogged this from gerutha
- the-heart-of-my-mystery likes this
- shunshin likes this
- digitalmeowmix likes this
- lovingmyselfishard reblogged this from justjasper
- silvershrike reblogged this from gematriya and added:
- siderealtime likes this
- oreoandme reblogged this from takenoverbyrocknroll
- oreoandme likes this
- gematriya reblogged this from gerutha
- gerutha reblogged this from uppitylittlehomo
- gerutha likes this
- espiritdelescalier reblogged this from uppitylittlehomo
- uppitylittlehomo reblogged this from justjasper
- stilestatofry likes this
- letscall-l likes this
- dardrian likes this
- maddlington reblogged this from takenoverbyrocknroll
- mamifish likes this
- sunshine-porcelain reblogged this from bumblbear and added:
- sortita likes this
- elvesarebad likes this
- electric-bluevelvet reblogged this from bumblbear
- wuboo likes this
- bumblbear reblogged this from christinaaguiprophet
- narryhadalittleliam reblogged this from christinaaguiprophet and added:
- witchcrraft likes this
- bumblbear likes this
- christinaaguiprophet likes this
- holdwine likes this
- quantumspork likes this
- colourpsychedelic reblogged this from alekibutt
- colourpsychedelic likes this
- mygayshoes reblogged this from justjasper and added:
- godlegos likes this
- perfumeandpancakes likes this