Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) literature has been controversial for decades and now is more mainstream and acceptable.
There still is a small amount of LGBT literature being published, but the amount published a year has increased. Malindolo.com said that in 2016 mainstream publishers published 79 LGBT Young adult books and in 2015 54 LGBT YA books were published.
Despite this rise, there are still some people who haven’t read an LGBT related book. Jasper Colado, a visual art junior, says that he hasn’t read a single LGBT book. Colado believes this literature can be important if it doesn’t romanticize the community and shows the communities hardships.
The most common group to write about is about gay men. There were 315 gay books published in 2015 according to gayya.org. There were more male writers than females, with there being 174 male writers and 130 female authors.
“I don’t want to see [this literature] become a normality. Our representation shouldn’t be forced nor romanticized,” said Colado. “I don’t exactly care about this literature. LGBT representation should be for a purpose or have no reason. I don’t want to see gay or transgender people romanticized for who they are.”
LGBT literature has existed for centuries and is just now becoming more mainstream and popular.
Spring Fire was published in 1952 and quickly became highly popular in its time and sold 1.5 million copies. The author, Mari-jane Meaker, was shocked when she saw its popularity grow because she was unaware of any “lesbian market” and wasn’t targeting that specific type of audience because she didn’t know it existed.
LGBT literature is important because it helps observe cultural shifts in our society. The first gay YA novel, I’ll Get There, It Better Be Worth the Trip by John Donovan, was written just weeks before the stonewall riots.
Many of earlier LGBT novels depicted it with shame and typically had more tragic endings, like the character dying at the end or their lover, if they had one.
Transgender literature is even more lacking and most of the literature published was through the eyes of a cis person with a trans side character. This has recently changed, and now more transgender books are being published.
The change in this form of literature has been slow. But it is happening and it has helped the community feel valid.
There is still lots of work to be done regarding this literature. This form of representation should be for a purpose Colado said, but it shouldn’t be forced either.