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Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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What's going on with #yesGayYA
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cleolinda
I have been writing (good) and having health issues (bad), so I've been quieter than I would have liked. However, before I can get to a number of other things, we have a publishing kerfuffle to discuss. Yes, another one. It's gotten pretty bad.

The short overview from the Guardian: YA authors asked to 'straighten' gay characters: Authors say agent offered them book deal conditional on making a character heterosexual.

The long version: Pack a lunch, you'll need itCollapse )



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Thank you for an excellent—and thorough—overview of the two blog posts in question and the ensuing discussion. I'm particularly grateful for the point you make about the difference between "being homophobic" and perpetuating a system that discriminates against LGBTQ YA lit. I have worked in the educational market for more than 30 years, and I have worked on many reading/language arts programs for the K-8 market during that time. Not only is it a given, as far as the publishers are concerned, that the literature in these programs cannot have gay characters, but they can't even reflect biracial families! The dedicated editors who work on these programs are not, for the most part, actively homophobic or racist. However, by accepting this as the norm, we are all party to perpetuating a homophobic and racist society. While educational publishing is WAY more conservative than trade publishing, I think the problem is the same. We in the publishing business shake our heads and bemoan the ignorance and bigotry "out there," but it's not going to change if we accept it as our reality. Granted, we all have to make a living, but we all have to sleep at night, too. Thank you, Rachel and Sherwood, for making us take a good hard look at the problem. We can do better!

Thank you for putting all this done and for including more than two povs. :)

Wow, great posting. I caught this through a Metafilter reference, I think. Just to let you know, I only give a rare few articles my full attention and read them all the way to the end.

So thank you for the excellent write-up. It's exceptionally fair and balanced.

And I'm not at all surprised the publishing industry is reluctant to publish ANYTHING that is not perceived as mainstream, especially with so many reactionaries trying to pin our nations ills on minorities, athiests, gays, etc. Money is tight, it's not an easy time to take monetary risks. Even though it'd probably pay-off big in the long time, for the smart publishers.

I recall reading Diane Duane's "The Door Into Fire" for the first time many years ago, and when I realized the protagonist was a Prince rescuing his Prince lover from a castle, I laughed outloud at the cleverness of the joke. I've never really felt uncomfortable reading anything about people different me. I have, however, been bored sometimes and given up reading a book or even an author. If the publishing industry wants to keep making money, STOP BEING BORING.

Thanks for this! I've been following it through your Twitter, but it's nice to get a big breakdown of the issue.

Now, I have a question: is there a list anywhere of YA--preferably paranormal--with LGBT characters (especially main ones)? I've read The Mortal Instruments, except for the newest book, but I'd love more, especially with gay characters, though lesbian/trans/bi are totally fine with me as well.

http://tanuki-green.livejournal.com/329393.html

If it says "gay hero/protagonist," or if that's clear from the description, they're the main character. Otherwise it'll say "major" character or something like that.

I haven't read it yet, but Scott Tracey's Witch Eyes (on the list) is a YA paranormal romance with a gay hero.

Hey - this has nothing to do with the publishing discussion, but congrats on finishing a draft!!

This reminds me a great deal of the drama that went on behind the scenes of the movie Gentlemen's Agreement. It won Best Picture and several other Oscars, etc. etc. The movie itself is about the subtle sort of anti-Semitism in the post-WW2 period which piggybacked on the complacency of those who refused to acknowledge that subtle discrimination is still wrong no matter how you try to brush it off. You would think that Hollywood, many of the studios of which were owned by Jews, would have leapt at the chance to turn the best-selling book into a movie. However, the response from Jewish producers was "No, don't make the movie, don't rock the boat." On the extras on the Gentlemen's Agreement DVD is a special which discusses this, including the context of Mccarthyism and how some of the actors in this movie suffered greatly for their daring. The man who plays the Jewish best friend of the protagonist was actually a Jewish actor who "came out" as it were by playing this role. He had a heart attack the night before he was supposed to go in front of the McCarthy tribunal not long after this movie came out.

Sorry, babble. But I think that history, especially RECENT history, is perhaps the best place to look for precedents and see what sort of miscommunications are happening. And it seems to me, from an outsider's perspective mind you, that LGBT is a buzzword still. It's something that's new enough that it's still considered in terms of marketing and more subtly, in terms of niche marketing. As someone you quoted said, being gay isn't a "normal" relationship yet. Not to the public at large. And I think the media/publishing companies definitely have a lot to do with how that all plays out. I don't know enough about this stuff to know what would need to shift or change. I think that portraying gay relationships as something beyond stereotype, as things which are living and breathing and just as likely to be drama-free as drama-queen, would help, though.

Because my experience as a Jew is that there is still subtle anti-Semitism that happens sometimes, in some arenas. Because of the explicit laws against it, and because of the generation gap(s) between now and WW2, I think that much of it has faded in this country, which makes me happy. But as recently as the 70s there was still active quota-ing of Jews in important colleges. That's another story, though, I won't bore you with it. :P