It's Pride Month! (2016 Edition) Let's Talk About LGBTQ+ Characters
Hello, all! It's June, which means sun and fun and summer and PRIDE MONTH! It's time to celebrate the heck out of LGBTQ+ characters. Like, even more so than the rest of the year, which is definitely something I can get behind.
I gained insight and had so much fun reading about prominent LGBT characters in other people's lives in last year's Pride Post, so I decided to again shout into the universe and ask for contributions this year. And oh BOY, am I excited to share with you the writings of two friends, Sierra and Andrew, and myself as well. I hope you enjoy our rambles and gushings! All books are linked to Goodreads.
You guys know me, so you know I read a lot of books. Some books are good and I like them enough, but there are only a few books that I can come back to and read over and over again because I just love the stories and the characters so much. Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour is definitely one of those books. I fell so hard for this book, especially Emi, the main character, so I'm going to talk about her because I didn't last year.
Emi is awesome. She's a lesbian, and she's out, which was also really cool to read because so often books focus on the coming out part of being a gay or non-binary individual and they don't deal with LGBTQ+ persons living regular lives. I really appreciate this aspect because while coming out books are important and necessary, gay teens are so much more than their coming out processes. Anyway, Emi is great. I loved following her on her journey as she navigates this mystery and a crush on this girl that she likes, which is honestly much more complicated than the mystery because crushes are HARD. The romance is swoony and so sweet. You will cling to Nina Lacour's every single last word.
So yeah. Emi is really important to me. Her story really resonated with me, and she'll always have a special place in my heart.
First off, thank you Serena for having me on your blog, it’s a real pleasure! And second of all, Happy Flipping Pride Month, the month where we can all embrace and showcase and also discuss our favorite young adult novels and couples featuring LGBTQ+ characters. These past two years, in my opinion, have really been the best in featuring and publishing dozens of relatable LBTQ+ characters, from debut voices. But in any cases, this month especially always remembers to bring the past, immortalized LGBTQ+ voices such as A.S. King’s Ask The Passengers and Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
Although I have not read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I’ve heard great thngs. One of my favorite characters from a book that I HAVE read is Astrid from A.S. King’s Ask the Passengers. I’m not going to lie when I say that this was the book that really had an emotional, gut wrenching, crazy re-discover of myself and the world I was living in. This was the book that gave me the longest book hangover I’ve ever had -to the point where I thought I’d never read another book again because it was so good- and it was Astrid who gave me a somewhat voice in my longing, confusing thoughts of my own sexuality. It was the book from which I really understood myself.
The second book that has recently came out, and has also received so many awards is Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. No words can be written to describe this new classic. Simon himself was so relatable and funny, witty, and cute and adorable. A character that I wanted to come back to over and over and over again.
*wink, wink at Becky Albertalli, tell me we haven’t seen the last of Simon and ‘Blue’!*
Something I’d really like to see more of in the future is more bisexual characters, because it’s something i feel is missing and needs to be seen more of. I’ve felt this pocket of absence of these characters that’d I’d really like to cherish and just remind myself that yes, there are more of us.
Happy Pride Month!
When Serena asked on Twitter for people to write about their favorite LGBT+ characters, I knew exactly who I had to write about. More specifically, two “whos”-Malec. Malec is the “ship name” for Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane, two of my favorite characters ever who just happen to be hella gay (and bi!) and also dating each other. They’re two “supporting characters” in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments book series and the T.V. show Shadowhunters on Freeform based on the series. (I put “side characters” in quotes because technically the series and the show are focused on another character, Clary Fray, but honestly Magnus and Alec are a lot of the reason behind why I and others are so in love with the story.) I knew I had to write about them because A: they’re the first LGBT+ characters I remember reading about and B: bonding over them, and Cassandra Clare’s books in general, were some of the things that Serena and I became friends over. Both of these things make them really important to me, so I couldn’t wait to write about them. I wanted to write about Malec as a relationship both because I couldn’t figure out which of them I would write about if i had to choose between them (that’s like asking a mother to choose a favorite child) and because their relationship itself is so important. They show many things rarely seen in the media, including an interracial same sex couple, the choice to adopt children, and a relationship that actually seems natural and fun instead of an epic untouchable romance. The thing that Malec really means to me is representation. Just the fact that they exist as characters that are LGBT+ is important in itself, but it’s not what I want to focus on. Alec and Magnus are very complex and interesting because their sexualities both do and do not shape their personalities as a whole. This is where I couldn’t decide whether to write about Alec or Magnus individually, because they’re both great for different reasons.
(that’s Alec, played in the TV show Shadowhunters by Matthew Daddario)
Alec is important because he’s gay, but far from the feminine, stylish, sassy gay best friend stereotype that the media loves (not that being any of those things is bad, but it is tiring when that’s all gay characters are reduced to). He wears practical fighting gear all the time, not the hottest new threads. He’s actually somewhat more masculine than the lead character, Jace, who’s basically the most straight dude ever and Clary’s love interest. While Jace is very emotional, obsessed with his looks, and a little (ok, sometimes a lot) self-absorbed, Alec is in many ways the opposite. He’s logical, not concerned with looks at all, and very selfless. Seeing someone who’s gay but not a walking stereotype is refreshing. It's also cool to see Alec become more comfortable with himself and his sexuality. Seeing a character go from depressed and in the closet to out and proud with his boyfriend is an important thing to show to anyone scared about coming out. It's also a great scene in the book and the show when he comes out by kissing Magnus in front of his family. But perhaps most importantly, Alec doesn't exist in the story merely to be the gay character. He's a brother and a son, a boyfriend, a warrior, and intellectual. He's there to protect his family, be the responsible one, know things that his younger siblings don't, and be caring, not to make eyes at every hot guy and wave the rainbow flag for the whole series. Alec has a great storyline showing how sexuality is not what he's defined by, but it is something to be proud of.
Magnus is important for different reasons than Alec. He’s open and comfortable with his sexuality from the beginning of the series. One thing he represents that’s important is bisexuality. That’s something that’s rarely seen in the media, especially not so explicitly stated - he calls himself a “freewheeling bisexual”. He’s also an Asian character, which is really rare in fiction at all, especially in a character that isn’t a stereotype. While Alec is unsure of himself (at least at first) and in need of a makeover, Magnus is the person who would probably be giving him that makeover. He loves sparkles, sarcasm and, frankly, himself. Because he’s awesome, and he knows it. But the thing is, those are all just surface traits. He’s also hundreds of years old, so he’s incredibly intelligent and knows about ten languages. He works hard to be as kind and caring as possible, even though he knows he might be the one who gets hurt in the end. He helps Alec become more comfortable with himself. Magnus is both as glittery and as kind as I hope to be one day. Magnus and Alec are two of my favorite characters ever, and together they have a relationship that’s important for everyone to see. Also, they’re just super cute together.
You can talk nerdy to Sierra on Twitter.
Thank you so much for checking out this year's Pride Month posts! What are your favorite LGBTQ+ books? How are you reading proud this month? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear your thoughts and get recs.