I feel as if I am the worst person in the world for saying this but…
I haven’t read a ‘pride month’ book in pride month. It’s only the first week but still. I am a disgusted by my reading choices and I shouldn’t be.
Most of what I read in paperback ( and occasional hardcover) are straight/hetero relationships with a side character who is gay. It’s always gay and most of the time he is black too. I get quite frustrated with it and whenever I do read a book about a main character who isn’t straight, I get so happy and excited. It’s also quite awesome when there is more than one member of the lgbt community.
I am bisexual. (#20Biteen)
Pride month holds a special place in my heart for one it’s Troye Sivan’s (I am obsessed with him and his music, I don’t think it was a coincidence that he was born in June, it was a sign) birthday month and above all that, you get to see so many people express themselves and be who they are. And it’s sad that we relegate reading lgbt books, watching lgbt movies and shows to only month a year.
I live in South Africa, a country that has legalised same sex marriage. But the law doesn’t dictate how people perceive gay, lesbian and bi people. We are still hated against, called demons and shunned by a large population of people. Telling us to deny ourselves and conform to the straight norm.
Does it then come as any surprise that finding lgbt books at a local library becomes hard.
And lgbt books targeted at a YA audience even harder.
As of the recent years, YA has become more and more diverse with characters of all sorts of diverse and interesting backgrounds. But I don’t get to see that because I am in a space where that is hard to find.
I have access to all these books because I am able to shop online and buy ebooks but what about that young girl who only reads books from her library and has an odd crush she can’t explain on her sister’s female best friend. All she may ever know is the hatred from the church priest telling her that gays and lesbians are against the nature of things, that’s all a choice or that they are a demon.
But beyond that, I have noticed a trend in YA.
An odd but understandable trend.
I title it “forced diversity”.
One black character in an all white cast.
One gay character in an all hetero cast.
One disabled, handicapped or mentally ill character in an all able cast.
One girl or boy who has been sexually active for a while and gets frowned upon.
One Muslim person in an all white cast.
And sometimes the character isn’t even a character, they are just a stereotype. It’s easy to write a gay or black stereotype but it isn’t impossible to write fully fleshed characters. Many authors have done it ( Simon vs The Homosapiens Agenda, The Raven Cycle, Magnus Chase, Heroes of Olympus, The Gilded Wolves). I want to be able to read a book where I can relate to the main characters and understand them and their struggles. To have my struggles written out on the page in front of me. To not see myself or others that are near and dear to my heart demonized.
So this pride month, I am going to read what I feel like reading. Because I had decided to make every month, Pride month.
I feel as if one month a year shouldn’t be the only time we talk about these issues. These conversations are important. And our voices should be heard. I am not asking as a bisexual. But as a black person, as a girl, as someone who could be deemed a whore or a slut or a demon. As someone who has suffered from depression and severe anxiety attacks. As a human being. Because that’s all we are.
Let the characters in a book be as diverse and real as the people every day on the street. Let them be human.
EVEN IF IT’S A F*CKING FANTASY BOOK IN A MADE UP LAND.
Because at the end of the day, books are only what we make of them. We make them a separate reality to our own but yet sometimes they become a mirror of our prejudices and hatred for the world.
Books study the state of being a human and so why do we deny people that opportunity to study a human similar to them.
Also don’t get me started on J.K Rowling. I don’t even want to touch that hot mess with a ten foot pole.
P.s if the ‘token diversity character’ gets killed off and they were the only one in the book. It doesn’t count as diversity. All the brownie points that were scored are automatically deducted.
P.P.s Actually no brownie points are earned from such activities. NO matter what.
Have a wonderful and don’t forget to spread the love. HAPPY PRIDE MONTH to all my lgbt+ friends and people. Y’all wonderful!
Have some Solangelo wrapped up in a pride flag! They are so cute! (I don’t remember where I found this photo but if it’s yours please just drop a comment so that I can credit you)