T O P I C R E V I E W
The Happy Hermit
Member # 31886
posted 08-21-2008 10:45 PM
As a certified Bookoholic I was wandering through a local bookstore (a rather large one) when I noticed how few books there were that seemed to deal with LGTB themes casually. Of course there is often (in larger cities that is) a section devoted to some studies about sexuality or some self-help books which are great if you find yourself in a crisis but I just mean for casual reading. Now I am hardly suggesting that authors should hinder their creative process to artificially jam in gay characters or transvestites etc. but it struck me as a wandered through the shelves in search of a book to buy how little ‘casual’ reading deals with the subject lightly. Now, when I say casual I refer to my chosen area of reading, which often centres around fantasy/pop fiction (a la Harry Potter, Twilight etc.), just something light to amuse me if I am not in the mood for a Tao Te Ching mindwarp. If seems to me from my experience that when a book has a significant character who is LGTB the fact that the character is nonheterosexual seems to be the absolute depth to the character: no significant depth, just ‘gay’. LGTB characters are not often treated as regular people. It seems that usually they are hypersexual sex addicts strewn with extreme and excessive tragedy. Now I do understand that in many places repression is very tense and it often leads to forcing LGTB individuals into a small underground group hence the creation of ‘LGTB culture (or more accurately counter-culture)’ however few people seem to want to take a risk against the current trends and address their LGTB characters and themes not as ‘LGTB characters/themes’ but rather ‘characters/themes which happen to be LGTB coincidentally’. LGTB individuals in present literature seem either invisible or completely over-the-top with very few people treating them as humans instead of caricatures of Oscar Wildian ‘Lady Bracknell’-type flaming queens. It has occurred to me that it may be a tendency for a possibly and simply homophobic system not giving books with prominent LGTB themes dealt with this way equal exposure but I would like to humour my idea that most people simply don’t care or that they assume that the book wont appeal to a wide enough fanbase and only 10% or so of the population. They could probably think this because of the harsh label of ‘LGTB literature’ being associated with either clinical studies or books that appeal to ONLY LGTB individuals. This is my first question: does anyone know of any books that fit the criteria of treating LGTB characters and nonLGTB characters equally? Like, books that are really good on there own without having to rely on labeling themselves ‘a bold and controversial depth into the tragic homosexual (or transendered etc.) phyche (ie the author has wrote the book to appeal exclusively to said subculture)’ and happen to have gay characters who aren’t fighting a crack addiction or who weren’t sold into prostitution at a young age? A book that just happens to have a healthy and relatively happy/confident LGTB character? Someone who could really be a good role model to look up to for anyone? It has occurred to me that in the general media in all one sees are funny little caricatures of homosexuals, hairdressers, fasionatas, interior decorators etc. However LGTB people are just that: people. How many outlets in the media are there in which people can see that the LGTB identity is moreso a human identity than a cultural one? Where are there books, shows, movies etc where LGTB people are treated to be as varied, complex, and diverse as any other group of people? Thanks for your time and i apologise if there are a few grammer issues that i didn't catch *my computer started acting up in the middle in my defense*
Member # 35643
posted 08-22-2008 02:16 AM
Nice topic Happy Hermit.
I've also found it hard to find casual reading on GLBT topics. In my local bookshop there's pretty much three sections within GLBT- history/ sexuality research, self-help/coming out books, and the biggest section- erotica. But I did read a good book recently: The Year of Ice, by Brian Malloy The main character, who happens to be gay, does have depth and it seems quite a realistic portrayal (though I probably wouldn't call him healthy and relatively happy). I read it over a weekend, it was hard to put down.
Member # 25425
posted 08-22-2008 03:11 AM
What springs to my mind immediately is a series of psychological thrillers by Jonathan Kellermann. The two main characters are a straight psychologist and a gay cop, and while the homosexuality is an issue (the cop is given a hard time in his department in the earlier novels of the series), it's never the focus of the novel. He's pretty much a character who just happens to be gay.
But you're right - mostly, when characters in the media are homosexual, they're either the funny side-kick a la Jack McFarland, or they're deep, dark and tortured.
Member # 39949
posted 08-22-2008 03:25 AM
I definately agree, whether it's denial, ignorance, sterotype or just ridiculous marketing execs to blame, a lot of writers don't seem to treat their LGBT characters as people and charcters as well as LGBT.
Some good books that I've loved are in and around the YA and fantasy genres. I find that YA in particular seems to have a lot of honest, real LGBT characters. My favorites are- Tithe + Ironside by Holly Black I've found more minor but still super cool characters in- Casandra Clare's Mortal Instruments trilogy and Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy,though not really untill the last book. Some I've heard are fantastic but haven't gotten to yet are- Boy Meets Boy -David Levithan Hero, by Perry Moore The Bermudez Triangle, by Maureen Johnson
Member # 41657
posted 03-14-2009 07:27 PM
Quick manga recommendation: CLAMP's stuff tends to be reasonably good with gay characters, they generally don't go in for the flaming stereotypes. Mostly, it's just about being in love with or attracted to someone the same way a straight homosapien would be. They did have some gendered stuff claiming that men are more likely to get interested in other men in a situation where there's only men than women are to be interested in other women when there's only women. They don't have an issue with lesbianism, but they do seem to buy into "menz r moar horny than teh wimminz."
Azumanga Daioh has a character with a crush on another character who is portrayed as happy and healthy, they do have a really big crush, and they are a side character, but they aren't a stereotype. This may only be in the anime though, I haven't actually read the manga. In western comics, I'd like to recommend Tales of the Closet, it is all about being gay, but the characters are not of the tragic variety, some of them have problems, but not in a tragic backstory that made them gay kind of way. I seem to remember reading a book called Two Weeks with the Queen as a child, which is about a child who meets and hangs around with a nice gay man who may have had AIDS thus meaning not healthy... drattit this is really difficult, I don't think I can actually come up with any book that meets your requirements. Oh well the stuff I recommended is good anyway.
Member # 29206
posted 03-15-2009 09:21 PM
The first thing that springs to mind is a pretty legendary science fiction author, Robert A. Heinlein... although his "gay" and "bi" characters occur more because of his highly (and unusually) open view of ideal sexuality than because they model real people in real life. In fact, most of the books that <i>I</i> read that contain LGBT sex or sensuality usually do so because the characters more or less have a freewheeling "if I like the person, I'll sleep with them" attitude, with no concern for gender.
If you will allow me to wander slightly from your subject area in question, however... I can think of one television show that has so easily and effortlessly included LGBT characters without pointing them out or leaving them out. Torchwood is more sci-fi, and so far as I know it's only available on BBC and BBC America. If I think of any more books, I'll come back here... and I'll come back for some recommendations. This is a great topic!
Member # 40774
posted 03-16-2009 12:00 PM
I think there are actually a ton of books that fit your description, but they can be a little challenging to find.
"A Seahorse Year" by Stacey D'Erasmo is one I recently read and loved. Joey's Kellerman suggestion reminded me of Sandra Scoppettone. She writes mysteries with a lesbian detective, and there's usually a lot of back story going on about the detective and her partner. Also, I grew up adoring Lawrence Block's "Bernie Rhodenbarr" series. Bernie is a career burglar and his best friend is a lesbian (I think she's only introduced in the later books). I think if you look for books written by queer people you'll find a lot. This is a great resource. I've found a bunch of great books browsing the Lambda Literary Awards finalists and winners lists, and on LibraryThing (which I'm totally addicted to, btw) there are queer reading groups. [ 03-16-2009, 12:01 PM: Message edited by: bluejumprope ]
Member # 42594
posted 04-17-2009 12:16 PM
A really great author whose books almost all revolve around LGBT characters is Julie Anne Peters. Her book Luna is great, -- really sad, but great -- and Keeping You a Secret is really helping me out lately. Haha, no pun intended.