Authors Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith wrote in a post at Publishers Weekly this week that a literary agent told them to make a gay character in their young adult novel straight if they wanted the agent to represent them.
It’s unfortunately not an isolated occurence. If you’re wondering why, author Patricia Nell Warren at Bilerico gives us her thoughts, along with a detailed look at the U.S. publishing industry.
And in 2009, some of you may recall, publisher Scholastic apparently told YA author Lauren Myracle to make the two lesbian moms of one character in her Luv Ya Bunches into a mom and a dad—even though they were only minor characters—if Myracle wanted the book included in elementary school book fairs. The publisher eventually agreed to carry the book in its middle school fairs, even though the characters are in elementary school and the recommended reading age is nine to 12.
In all fairness to Scholastic, it’s a big company. One of its imprints is Arthur A. Levine Books, headed by the very same Arthur Levine, a gay dad whose children’s book Monday is One Day includes gay parents. (One of the other popular series he edits involves some kid with glasses and a broomstick.)
There is hope, however, YA author Malinda Lo has just done an extensive analysis of YA books published in the U.S. since 1969, complete with pie charts. (And who doesn’t love pie?) The good news she says, is “the numbers have continued to increase over time, and other than the dip in 2010, the increase has sped up since 2000.” The not-too-surprising bad news, however, is that “the G in LGBT far outpaces L, B, or T.”
All of the above are great reads. If you have any interest in YA literature, teenagers, publishing, or LGBT representation, do check them out.
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