This article covers books about gay and bisexual teenage characters who are male. These young adult novels were characterized by candor, unidealized characters and settings, colloquial and sixteen by maureen daly pdf language, and plots that portrayed realistic problems faced by contemporary young adults that did not necessarily find resolution in a happy ending.
Because gay young adult novels often center upon problems that gay teen characters encounter because of their homosexuality, these books are often classified as examples of the “problem novel” genre. To date there are still relatively few titles that fit within this genre, but nonetheless, the books that have been written and published constitute a necessary and unique collection of ideas. Despite the apparent wider acceptance of these novels, publishing them can be difficult. Author Brent Hartinger said, “Editors told my agent again and again that there was no market for a book like this, and all my agent’s agent-friends told her she was wasting her time on a gay teen book.
Publishers often seem motivated by the desire to maximize their profits, and librarians are often restricted by limited acquisitions budgets. Neither of these factors work to support, much less create, an environment in which much literature will be produced that explores homosexuality for adolescents in any meaningful way. Although larger publishing houses may reject homosexual fiction because of the smaller market, there are publishing houses available that focus on this specific genre. For almost thirty years, Alyson Books has been publishing LGBT authors, often when no other publisher would dare sign them on.
Alyson Books, recently purchased by Regent Media, is the oldest LGBT book-publisher and the first to readily publish gay fiction against the marketing odds. M classics Coming to Power and Leatherfolk, I see a publisher with a wide vision of who we are as LGBT people. Taken together, this sampling of books recognizes that some of us are parents, some of us are people of color, and some of us enjoy sex involving BDSM. Some of us might even be all of the above. To my thinking this inclusive view is an extraordinary achievement unto itself.
While I could name any number of books that I’m proud to say Alyson has published, I think the barrier-breaking nature of our past is what excites me most. Other publishing houses have begun to show an interest in gay fiction. Regent Media, is now the largest gay and lesbian publisher. Puffin, who observes that “young adult used to mean books aimed at readers between the ages 16 and 21,” but some of these books are now “reaching the 14 plus crowd and ideally crossing over to the adult market,” although gay young adult novels are also aimed at children as young as twelve years old. Gay young adult fiction serves more than just gay teenagers, it offers gay literature to straight adolescents as well. All young adults, defined here as people who are 12 to 18 years old in transition from childhood to adulthood, are struggling with issues of responsible sexual behavior and emergent ideas of self-identity, and all young adults should have access to literature that reflects the reality of their lives, their emotions, their fears and their joys, including gay and lesbian teenagers. Furthermore, as homosexuality becomes more and more acceptable to society at large, or at least more visible, all teenagers are going to know others who are lesbian or gay, whether it is family members, teachers, friends or neighbors.