I’m totally embarrassed to come into LGBTQ YA month so late, but as you saw from my previous post, #amrevising. As usual, I was clued into this terrific corner of the blogsphere by Dahlia Adler, whose QUILTBAG compendium I’m still referring readers to.
As I already have Kristin Elizabeth Clark’s FREAKBOY on my shelf and PANTOMINE by Laura Lam on my Kindle, it was a no-brainer to join. I’m looking forward to the reviews, conversations and guest posts still to come.
For now, I’m so thrilled that NONE OF THE ABOVE was mentioned in the aforementioned Laura Lam’s excellent post on intersex being the last taboo in YA literature, in which she issues a call for more intersex characters in genres across all literature. In particular, she points out:
Just because a character is intersex doesn’t mean that the entire book is necessarily only about their intersex experience. They are people just like anyone else, of course, and they deserve to have adventures as well.
Amen! Here’s part of my comment on Laura’s thoughtful post:
I completely agree with you that it would be wonderful if intersex were something that could be written about without it being a focal point of a character’s identity. Unfortunately, right now there is so much ignorance and lack of awareness about what intersex means in the first place, that it might be a while before that can be a reality. A large part of the confusion is that the term intersex covers a very wide range of different anatomies. Even during my medical school training, intersexuality was kind of brushed over in the curriculum, and it was only because of my interest in the subject after reading MIDDLESEX that I learned of the different “flavors” of intersex.
I was at an SCBWI LGBT breakout session a couple of months ago where Jane Yolen talked about how she wanted there to be a time soon when gay characters were just “part of the wallpaper” – meaning every story didn’t need to be a Coming Out Story (capital letters). I think we’re getting to that point when it comes to being gay or lesbian, and my hope is that intersexuality will get there, too. Until then, we must continue to battle myths about intersex, and the notion that intersex individuals are “Others.” That is why it was so important for me to make my main character accessible & relatable, to essentially show that the “girl next door” could be intersex with you (or her) even being aware of it.
My hope is that all of these books about intersex will serve to bring us closer to a time when intersex isn’t considered a curiosity, to a time when it doesn’t matter whether a character is gay, straight, or intersex, but just that he/she is an unforgettable character.
Through Laura’s website, I also came across another post on intersex characters on the blog Once Upon a Bookcase.
I’ll be adding a few of my musings on this subject next week, after I turn my edits in. I PROMISE!
So long for now.