Queer representation is rarely seen on popular reading platforms
Dear Diary: As a queer woman, it’s disappointing to not see enough LGBTQ+ representation in the book community.
The viral books on TikTok and the Barnes and Noble trending charts seem to have primarily a heterosexual love interest. Almost all of the books I’ve purchased through BookTok are like this.
I’m not saying there aren’t viral queer books on social media, because there are. For example, books like “One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston, “They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera, and “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller are queer books that have become popular through social media.
We need to see more queer books on the trending pages of social media platforms. Specifically novels that include more diverse topics.
Most popularized gay novels involve same-sex relationships: men loving men. And while there are no issues with gay representation in the book community, representation of more sexual and gender identities is important.
Representation is needed for people who identify as pansexual, asexual, non-binary, genderqueer, transgender, bisexual, or any other sexuality.
LGBTQ BOOKS TO READ
“Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin follows the story of an American named David who becomes interested in Giovani, an Italian bartender, after his fiancé leaves on a trip. Good reads describes the novel as a “highly controversial tale of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the heart.”
Although I haven’t read Baldwin’s book, it does seem to explore the struggle to understand your sexuality and fight the stigma that being gay is immoral.
A similar novel that follows the same stigma is “My Policeman” by Bethan Roberts, which follows the story of Tom, a policeman, his wife Marion and his companion and closest lover, Patrik.
Recently, the novel was made into a movie starring Harry Styles, David Dawson and Emma Corrin. I missed the book, but I saw the movie. This movie broke my heart, which just means the book will do worse, in a good way.
While “Giovanni’s Room” and “My Policeman” are works of queer fiction, “This Arab is Queer: An Anthology of Arab LGBTQ+ Writers”, edited by Elias Jahshan, is an anthology of memoirs written by queer Arab writers.
Not only does this book incorporate queer voices, but it also delves into the first-hand queer experiences of a minority group that doesn’t have many voices in the mainstream book community.
“Cinderella is dead”, by Kalynn Bayron, is also a work of queer fiction that speaks to a minority group that, unfortunately, does not often follow social media trends.
Bayron’s novel is set in the same kingdom as Cinderella, 200 years later. Young women are now required to attend the annual ball where the men of the commune choose their next wife. After fleeing the annual ball, Sophia finds herself working with Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella.
The description of books states “this new take on a classic story will inspire readers to question the stories they have been told and encourage girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.”
A Goodreads user references the Pixar film Brave, saying “I would feature this as Black Cinderella falls in love with Merida and together they destroy the patriarchy.”
Ultimately, it’s important to realize that the novels that get the most attention continually focus on themes of cisgender, heterosexual, and white communities when it comes to characters and plots. However, there is so much more diversity and representation that needs to be explored in literature.
It’s important to read queer stories and support queer writers. Representation matters.
Sincerely, a bookworm.