Youth fiction grows up: for the gifted crop of writers telling stories for and about gay youths, the old cliches are so-o-o over.
When it comes to choosing fiction, you don't have to act your age. Some of the most moving, courageous, and innovative new writing is in gay-themed novels for young adults. "Young adult literature is all about experimentation and risk-taking," Julie Anne Peters Julie Anne Peters, born January 16, 1952, is an American children's author. Personal life
Julie Anne Peters was born in Jamestown, New York, on 16 January, 1952. When she was five, her family moved to the Denver suburbs in Colorado. , author of last year's Luna--a National Book Award finalist about a transgendered transgendered adjective Relating to a person who has undergone genital/sexual reassignment surgery Transgender health issues Hormonal therapy, cosmetic surgery, fertility options–eg, egg and sperm banking. See Sexual reassignment. Cf Transsexual. teen--has said. "There are no rules, no limitations, no literary expectations to overcome."
Filmmaker Brian Sloan (I Think I Do) remembers asking his publishers if there were words or topics he should avoid in his debut comic young adult novel, A Really Nice Prom Mess (Simon and Schuster, June): "They said no. Teenagers have pretty much heard it all." Unlike the purveyors of the angst-ridden gay pulp fiction of the '50s, his publishers asked only for a happy ending.
Sloan's main character, Cameron Hayes, keeps his sexuality under wraps because his wealthy, A-list boyfriend doesn't want to threaten his standing on the football team. When Cameron goes along with his boyfriend's plan to bring fake dates to prom, gay hell breaks loose. What's prom night without a thwarted drug bust, gay strippers, and a Russian con artist?
On the darker side, Kathe Koja's new novel, Talk, describes a high school student's coming-out against the controversial themes of the school play in which he's starring: torture, imprisonment Imprisonment
See also Isolation.
former federal maximum security penitentiary, near San Francisco; “escapeproof.” [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 218]
German prison ship in World War II. [Br. Hist. , and the dangers of truth-telling. Tall, good-looking Kit, who plays off his female costar's sexual attraction to him onstage, comes to realize he's "acting" in more ways than one. Koja says writing for young people heightens her "feeling of responsibility. I aim to tell them the truth the best way I know how, to respect them as readers and as people by being absolutely honest with them."
But honesty can be hard-won. After building a successful career in children's literature, it took Julie Anne Peters a full year to work up the courage to show her editor the lesbian love story she'd written for teens (Keeping You a Secret, 2003), even though the book was her editor's idea. She expected to be blacklisted by librarians. Instead she was inundated in·un·date
tr.v. in·un·dat·ed, in·un·dat·ing, in·un·dates
1. To cover with water, especially floodwaters.
2. with fan mail. Now she's publishing her third gay-themed novel, Far From Xanadu, in which a small-town butch lesbian teen named Mike falls in love with a straight girl.
In a twist on the coming-out genre, "[Mike's] sexuality is both central to her character and incidental to the theme," Peters explains. "It's my belief--perhaps idealistic and naive--that when you grow up in a close-knit community ... your relationships are based on human connections. You are a person before you are a gay person."
Two of YA's biggest success stories are Brent Hartinger, whose newest book is The Order of the Poison Oak poison oak: see poison ivy.
Species of poison ivy (Toxicodendron diversilobum) native to western North America and classified in the sumac (or cashew) family. , and Alex Sanchez, whose Rainbow series--Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Road, due in October--has had huge crossover popularity. Tackling such issues as sexual harassment sexual harassment, in law, verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, aimed at a particular person or group of people, especially in the workplace or in academic or other institutional settings, that is actionable, as in tort or under equal-opportunity statutes. , homophobia, and HIV HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), either of two closely related retroviruses that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDS. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States. , Sanchez's novels "also tell universal stories of friendship, love, coming of age, and being true to yourself," he says. "That combination of gay teen--specific and universal themes allows readers of any age or sexual orientation sexual orientation
The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces. a window into both others and themselves." Demand from even younger readers prompted him to write So Hard to Say, which pits a questioning middle-school boy against the timeless forces of Spin the Bottle.
Censorship and backlash do exist, but this chilly political climate may be the best time possible for books that speak passionately about the need to be true to oneself, Koja says: "Fear is in the air now, and the antidotes to fear are action and love." Sanchez points out that "most school librarians are awesome free-speech champions. They know gay kids because we so often hide out in the safety of libraries."
And what about that old standby of coming-out fiction, shame? "The sense I get from kids today is that there's still a struggle to get through, but the issues of shame don't exist as strongly as they used to," says Sloan. "Not after Will & Grace, Queer Eye, Queer as Folk Queer as Folk may refer to:
Marler writes for the New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Observer and the Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times
Morning daily newspaper. Established in 1881, it was purchased and incorporated in 1884 by Harrison Gray Otis (1837–1917) under The Times-Mirror Co. (the hyphen was later dropped from the name). Book Review.