It's Pride Month!

12:00 AM Serena 0 Comments

June is Pride Month, so I thought it would be fun to talk about some of my favorite LGBT characters. I of course took to Twitter to ask people if they wanted to participate, and a couple lovely ladies volunteered. I'm very excited to have Mackenzi Lee and Molli Moran on the blog today. YAY! 

So what is Pride Month? The Library of Congress says Pride Month is a time to "recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally." Which I think is pretty dang cool because so many LGBT characters have had an impact on me. The one thing that's a little "EH" about Pride Month for me is that it doesn't mention queer, asexual, or intersex persons. *sighs* But that's okay because we're going to mention them here anyway. Huzzah!

Anyway, here are just a few LGBT characters who we absolutely adore. 

I said...

There are many LGBTQ+ characters I could talk about, but these two really stood out to me when I was making my decision, so that's why I chose them. Two of my all-time favorites are Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and Vanessa Park from Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler. Noah from I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and Emi from Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour came in very close. 

Simon Spier, pronounced to rhyme with beer not liar, is a not-so-openly gay teen who's into theater, Oreos, and music. I love Simon because his voice felt very real and genuine. Like, so much so that there were times that I felt like he hopped out of the bindings of the book and was sitting next to me, relating all the happenings of his life. And a lot happened with Simon. He was sure of his sexuality, but his coming out led to issues with friends and people at school and him feeling weird around his parents, and he was just dealing with so much. But you know what? He really grew into himself and his 'out' life, and I loved watching him do it. And it wasn't even really his problems with being out that inspired me, it was how he navigated his problems with friends and his family and his crush. He really figured life out, and he still managed to stay true to himself. Also he is just the most adorable human, and I adored the way he talked about things that he loved. So yeah, Simon belongs on my favorites shelf. I love him so very much. Add Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on Goodreads

And then there's Vanessa. Vanessa means a lot to me for numerous reasons. First and foremost, she's an Asian American character in a YA book. She's one of the first I ever encountered, actually. And as an Asian American teenager, I can't even begin to tell you how good it felt to "meet" Vanessa because that's a part about myself that I hardly get to see represented in media. At least not in a non-stereotypical way. Another thing I love about her is that she goes after what she wants. She's a woman well on her way out of surviving and into thriving in a male-dominated field, and it's so empowering. She's also witty and hilarious and a great friend and girlfriend. Basically Van is the kind of person I want to be friends with and also strive to be. Add Under the Lights on Goodreads. 

Mackenzi Lee, 2015 debut author of This Monstrous Thing (9/22/15), said...

Asking me to pick my favorite LGBTQ+ character in fiction is as difficult as asking me to pick a favorite book. (My eliminated finalists were Ronan from The Raven Boys and Sydney from Proxy). But if I had to pick, it's gotta be Ethan from THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH by Martha Brockenbrough. 

Ethan is a young man navigating his own identity in the grisly world of Depression-era Seattle. Like all teenagers, he's learning who he is, but also how to be that person in a world that rejects fundamental things about him. He's a boy who thinks he isn't worthy of love, but wants it so badly. Who can't reconcile himself to the world he lives in. Who wears shame like shackles. And who, over the course of the book, begins to shake those chains off. It doesn't happen easily. And it doesn't all happen by the end of the book. But Ethan's courage wins the day--the courage to change his circumstances, to break the cycle of abuse, and to trust himself and who he is. To be himself and trust that that self is worthy of love. My heart reached out to Ethan and put its fingertips against his, two people on either side of a page. 

"Afterward, Ethan wept, and Love whispered things meant to make him feel safe. Were it possible, he would have traded immortality to remain with this beautiful soul, to concentrate that love on a human who needed it so." --Martha Brockenbrough, The Game of Love and Death. Add The Game of Love and Death on Goodreads

Molli Moran, NA author of One Song Away, said...

When Serena asked me to talk about two of my favorite LGBTQIA characters, two of my favorite YA books immediately came to mind: FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe, and EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour. Both of these books, and their leading ladies, mean a lot to me, for different reasons. 

In FAR FROM YOU, we meet Sophie, a bisexual teenager who is investigating her best friend's death. Sophie is such an important character, because she actually IDs, out loud and to herself, as bisexual. Bi-visibility is vital to me, since it usually gets ignored or explained away. Plus, Sophie herself is fabulous: caring, loyal, stubborn when she's determined to see something through, and ultimately, able to love with all her heart. If I'd have FAR FROM YOU when I was a young adult, I think it would have helped me so much. Instead, I celebrate it now for the amazing book it is. Add Far From You on Goodreads

In EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU, we have Ava, who has one summer to live in her brother's amazing house while he's away, and to do something great. Ava is a lesbian, and out, and watching her navigate the often-confusing (but wonderful) world of dating girls made me chuckle, flail, and cry, sometimes all at once. Not only was Nina's book super adorable, but she is such a great writer that I felt like I was there, learning about Hollywood, watching Ava fall in love. Add Everything Leads to You on Goodreads

Both of these characters mean a lot to me. We need books like FAR FROM YOU, where our main character is coming out, to show that it can be done, and you can survive it. Along with those, we also need books where the main character is already out, to show the aftermath, and that you can thrive and be happy -- but we can't ignore the need for both types of books. 
What LGBTQ+ characters or books have made an impact on your life? Feel free to talk about them in the comments or hit me up on Twitter! I'm always looking for recs, and I love talking to people about things they love. 

Related: If you're looking for a book, check out Dahlia Adler's QUILTBAG Compendium, which is my go-to resource for QUILTBAG MG/YA/NA. It's pretty extensive and definitely useful. Check it out!