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You are here: Home > Forum > A Place of Safety > Literary Merit > The Healing Power of Queer Coming-of-Age Stories
The Healing Power of Queer Coming-of-Age Stories  [message #77871] Sun, 13 June 2021 20:15 Go to next message
Bensiamin is currently offline  Bensiamin

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Location: USA
Registered: July 2019
Messages: 315



An Op-Ed in today's New York Times by Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, from whence this forum string gets its name, ought to attract the attention of authors and readers in this forum!

I've seen frequent discussions of the age of readers at this and other LGBTQ fiction sites, as well as about the range of appropriate topics, etc.
 
One central quotation from this piece should suffice:
 
What the books offered me was an alternative history, one full of hope for the life I might have lived, and a kind of longing for a world that wasn't once but might still be.

Y.A. writers today know that they're writing not just for those who are the same age as their characters but also for those who long ago left high school behind. An often-cited 2012 Bowker Market Research study found that the majority of Y.A. book buyers -- 55 percent -- were adults and the largest share of them were age 30 to 44, a group that includes me. Particularly in the queer community, I've noticed, there seems to be an obsessive love for children's media, perhaps because it offers us not only nostalgia but also repair.

Repair is crucial, said Angel Daniel Matos, an assistant professor at Bowdoin College (where I also teach) and the author of the forthcoming "The Reparative Possibilities of Queer Young Adult Literature and Culture." So many queer people "have been through immense pain growing up in our adolescence," Dr. Matos told me. Attempts by the broader culture to "limit who we loved, what we desire, what we do with our bodies" abound. In these stories, then, we get the chance to imagine what it might have been like to grow up in the world depicted on the page or screen instead.

I urge everyone to read the piece and then share your reflections on the main themes.

Read the NY Times piece here




Bensiamin
Re: The Healing Power of Queer Coming-of-Age Stories  [message #77872 is a reply to message #77871] Mon, 14 June 2021 11:14 Go to previous message
NW is currently offline  NW

On fire!
Location: Worcester, England
Registered: January 2005
Messages: 1543



"An Op-Ed in today's New York Times by Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, from whence this forum string gets its name, ought to attract the attention of authors and readers in this forum!
 
"What the books offered me was an alternative history, one full of hope for the life I might have lived, and a kind of longing for a world that wasn't once but might still be."

For me, that's certainly part of it. I was age 12, in 1967, when male homosexuality in England was decrimialised for men over the age of 21 in private (generally taken as no-one else in the building) - I listened to the bill going through Parliament on a little transistor radio under the bedclothes at night. To have gone from that to equal marriage, and increasing recognition of trans folk, certainly shows that things could have been very different if I'd been born half a century later, and yes: there's a sort of unresolved longing for the possible life I might have had.

But there's also a slight feeling of enabling or facilitating. Whatever very minor extent my being fully "out and proud" and somewhat activist for the last 40+ years has contributed to the changes is something that I can feel has made my life in some sense worthwhile. It has been a necessary step ... but the current generation of teens and 20s are going further, into non-binary genders and seeing "gay" as merely one label that some people may choose to apply to themselves, with an increasing understanding of pan- a- and other sexualities. This is something I'm happy to support from the sidelines! I understand the fears that "gay culture" may disappear as a result (most gay pubs and clubs in England have closed over the past decade, and Pride has largely become a marketing opportunity), but for me at least that means the loss of segregation and "being different". One of the things I find really encouraging about YA stories is that the vast majority show increasing acceptance within broad society rather than the ghettoisation that the few queer YA stories of half a century ago portray.

[Updated on: Mon, 14 June 2021 11:16]




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