The Gay in YA

To gay or not to gay?

Where do we draw the line in YA?  Recently I read somewhere that there is no line.  There are agents and publishers for however far (or not far) you take a novel.  Personally, I don’t think it’s fair that lines be drawn. But when we’re talking mainstream literature, what is accepted by society?  

Of course, this is a question I haven’t yet answered.   However, I do have some perusal of the topic for your enjoyment.  

For comparisons sake, I would like to introduce two very well known series: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.  Both are very successful, both have a main romantic theme, both involve vampires, werewolves, and a certain element of fantasy.  But this is where the two part ways.  

Let’s start with Twilight.  (I’m Team Edward by the way.  If you have to stop reading now, I suppose I understand.)  Stephenie Meyer brings romanticism to the table with the forbidden love between Bella and Edward.  There’s plenty of teen angst and deep yearning for the opposite sex.  There are side relationships (Jessica/Mike, Angela/Ben, Emily/Sam, etc).  All very straight relationships.  There are even those that borderline creepy (Claire/Quil, Reneseme/Jacob).  But nowhere in the series do see the hint of a gay relationship, unless you count Edward’s sparkly skin that any drag queen would kill to have.  

So this is where my question comes in.  Would Twilight have been as successful if it had a homosexual main character?  Maybe Alice liked girls?  Maybe Rosalie was really a drag queen and didn’t just look like one?  Would you still have loved the series, or would it have been frowned upon for being less than the norm?

Now, on to The Mortal Instruments series.  Cassandra Clare is what I like to call an unapologetic writer.  She gets down to the nitty gritty and she isn’t afraid to describe what really happens.  She actually uses words that would make some writers blush!  But not Cassie Clare–she just lays it all out there.  (And this folks, is why she is so fantastic!)  So while there is plenty of hot Clary/Jace scenes, there are also plenty of Alec/Magnus scenes.  What???  Gasp!!  A gay couple?  And they have scenes??  

In fact, at the request of her fans she has recently posted a gay kissing scene between Alec and Magnus.  And I have to say, it’s amazing and perfect, and nothing short of what I would expect from her.  If you’re interested, you can read it here:   http://cassie-claire.com/cms/kissed
Now, if that doesn’t make you squirm, I don’t know what will!

And even with her gay couple, The Mortal Instruments series is a bestseller!  But, it does have a lot more “darker” elements that Twilight (things like incest! and swear words!, and moaning! oh my!)

So after all my blabbering, here lies my real question.  (Okay, there’s some more back story, I apologize!)  In my series there is a main character who happens to be gay (along with absolutely amazing and quite possibly my favorite character, ever.)  My readers have shown some interest in having a spin off novel from his point of view.  This novel would explore his relationship and I wouldn’t hold anything back.  I would write it no different than any of my other novels–which means (oh no!) gay sex. 

There.  I said it.  

Of course, this is just hypothetical rambling at this point.  Chase’s story has yet to unfold, but I’d like to believe that it would be well received.  After all, everyone loves Chase.  Everyone.  

I have discussed this at length with my readers, who kind of ride the fence.  Yes, I want to read Chase’s story…but no…I don’t know if everyone  wants to read Chase’s story.  

Has homosexuality become mainstream?  Now that the younger generation is taking over, will we see more of it in movies and writing?  

To that I say, I sure hope so!  It’s time we embrace the reality of society.  So I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I will write Chase’s story eventually.  And it will be epic, I promise.  Whether or not the world is ready for Chase (and Gabriel!) is yet to be seen!! 

But I’d like to think I’m as bold as Cassandra Clare (who is sort of my idol!).  It is what it is people, take it or leave it! 

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8 comments

  1. I read a book called Sprout by Dale Peck and it gets in detail, the main characters are gay, and it's the sweetest story I've read (besides the Cassandra Clare Malec scene; that tops it, I'm afraid, as I already adore Alec and Magnus). I adored it, and, though I knew it was "a gay novel" (some jerk kid at my school, don't ask), in my stupid, pitter-pattering, romantic loving heart, it was the same (with different plot twists) all the other cute romances I'd read. Don't hate me:I actually have no idea who you're talking about, as to your characters but this got me curious enough to check it out! *embarrassed* Sorry. I had to check the article out. If my opinion means anything….GO FOR IT!

  2. Gotcha, gotcha. 😄 I will totally be on the lookout. You've got my attention. ^^ And I found you on Twitter. I'm good at that, because I have nothing better to do, hah. ^^

  3. I'd say to totally do it. Honestly, I saw this off of Cassandra Clare's twitter, but I'm definitely going to follow you now for updates on your book. To me, I think that it's perfectly fine – society isn't totally openminded about it, but if no one writes/talks/shows anything about it, how is it ever going to get mainstream?I'd totally buy your book and recommend it to anyone else if I like it, no matter whether the main character's transsexual, pansexual, gay, lesbian, etc. Good luck!

  4. Thank you anonymous poster! The hits I'm getting from Cassandra Clare's twitter are great! I really appreciate the support from her and everyone that's sent here because of her! 🙂

  5. I think that it's good to get gay couple into YA fiction. It's good for the younger generation to understand that it's not something to be ashamed of, and putting it in their popular fiction is a great way of doing it. I've always been 'in love' with the gay characters in any story, and LOVE Magnus/Alec, my favourite character on Glee is Kurt and I'm attempting to write my own fantasy novel with a gay main character, because there just isn't enough of it!

  6. David Levithan writes some amazing novels with gay main characters. They're some of the best books I've ever read. Magnus and Alec are beyond wonderful, too!

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