Oh, to be a possum. A possum up a tree.


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!”

What you can do, and more…

  1. intellectual-carrot reblogged this from takenoverbyrocknroll
  2. vulpix reblogged this from cheshirecaticus
  3. cheshirecaticus reblogged this from justjasper
  4. kicontradiction reblogged this from singingtomysoul and added:
    I was gonna emphasize some of my favorite parts of this, but I would have bolded the whole thing. Just…I was so angry at...
  5. al-hazel reblogged this from takenoverbyrocknroll
  6. tamsinskye reblogged this from kendallmeow
  7. kendallmeow reblogged this from justjasper
  8. updowncontinue reblogged this from moniquill
  9. moniquill reblogged this from maddlington
  10. curmudgeonlaine reblogged this from rollingsreliable
  11. eleanorrvance reblogged this from rollingsreliable
  12. rollingsreliable reblogged this from gerutha
  13. lovingmyselfishard reblogged this from justjasper
  14. silvershrike reblogged this from gematriya and added:
    I’ve always loved Sherwood Smith’s novels. Now I think I love her every more.
  15. oreoandme reblogged this from takenoverbyrocknroll
  16. gematriya reblogged this from gerutha
  17. gerutha reblogged this from uppitylittlehomo
  18. espiritdelescalier reblogged this from uppitylittlehomo
  19. uppitylittlehomo reblogged this from justjasper
  20. maddlington reblogged this from takenoverbyrocknroll
  21. sunshine-porcelain reblogged this from bumblboo and added:
    This is sickening but unfortunately not surprising.
  22. electric-bluevelvet reblogged this from bumblboo
  23. bumblboo reblogged this from divascreech
  24. narryhadalittleliam reblogged this from divascreech and added:
    these are my heroes.
  25. colourpsychedelic reblogged this from alekibutt
  26. areodesy reblogged this from justjasper and added:
    This enrages me so freaking much. Right now, I’m working on a Novel- and everyone who has read, even a little bit of it,...