RT: Diversity and sexuality, part five

We’re down to the last three questions of our discussion and the response so far has been absolutely amazing. Thank you all! Today, we’re looking forward to what we’d like to see in terms of sexuality and diversity in YA lit. Thursday, then, we’re sharing our recommendations with you and we’d LOVE to get some suggestions in return. So as always, if you want to weigh in, please do 🙂

What would you like to see in the future of YA sexual diversity?

Marieke: In terms of what I’d like to see: I’d like to see more diversity, of course. I think we need characters of all sorts, but above all more positive portrayals of sexuality and diverse characters. It’s always a tricky balance, because although I’d like to see diverse characters portrayed all across the moral spectrum, I feel like we haven’t been represented enough for that not to be problematic in some way. I mean, I’m pretty much done with either the dead lesbian or the angry, evil one, thank you very much.
Then again, I want it to be natural too. My favorite books are the ones where characters just happen to be gay, or disabled, or happen to deal with some kind of mental illness, for example.

Kayla: I think I’ve probably said this a million and a half times, but I’ll say it again: more diverse experiences. I want to see characters who know what they want and ones who don’t. I want characters from the entire spectrum of sexual desires and experiences. Characters who choose to have sex and those who don’t, and for “sex” to be more broadly defined than penis-in-vagina intercourse. I want to see healthy sexual relationships, and I also still want to see poor decision-making in sexual relationships. Basically, I want to see reality reflected in the sexuality of YA characters.

Patrice: I’m with Kayla, “more diverse experiences.” Sometimes I fell like I should just record myself but it’s true. Our world is an extremely diverse one and it grows more so every day. I want more healthy relationships as well, less playing by stereotypes and more development of rich, full rounded people. As someone who is queer I especially want more “sex” than just “penis-in-vagina intercourse” as Kayla said. I don’t think the appeal of a book has to go down because of more realistic relationships. If anything I think we writes should challenge ourselves to include real relationships while still making them “sexy”.

Natalie: The easy answer here is to see all types of sexual relationships explored across the board. For me, personally, I’d like to see more books where teens get themselves into a range of sexual predicaments, or troubles, and then deal with them. I think it’s important to show our readers that mistakes are made and they can easily be turned into lessons. And that it’s normal to experiment to discover who they really are. The ultimate message for me is that they can be proud of who they are – even if who they are doesn’t conform to any ‘conventional’ norm.

Sarah: Yeah, I’m with you guys, I want more diversity across the board, please, for both characters and their interactions. I *definitely* sound like a broken record, but it’s such a shame when we only get to see (and vicariously experience, or at least explore) a tiny fraction of what’s out there, and if we can’t find ourselves in books… ugh.

And I’d like to see stuff where a person’s sexuality is coincidental. A part of the story, sure, but not always the focus. And stories where a person’s sexuality is not the only thing that defines them. I’m sick of seeing only (for example) ‘gay’ or ‘Asian’ or ‘wheelchair user’, as separate entities. Where’s the gay Asian wheelchair user, folks?

I’d like to see books which surprise me, which take all those awful stereotypes we uncovered earlier, and make us see things differently.

Thursday, we’ll discuss recommendations!

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