- Sophia Hall
REPRESENTATION: LGBTQ+ Representation in FanFiction and YA Literature
I was raised in the local Georgetown Library with its ancient aroma of knowledge wafting around me as I checked out a book. I grew up as an avid reader. On any occasion, I always have a 500-page novel in hand to spare me the awkwardness of sitting around with nothing to do. One of the series that I can read and reread without ever growing bored is “Harry Potter.” Although JK Rowling is accused of being transphobic and is basically canceled by her fan base, the books extend further than their author. The core values of the books, determination, self-acceptance and loving those who are different from you, are what truly encourage and influence a child growing up.
The messages in her books inspire fans to write their own stories based on “Harry Potter” and post them to fanfiction sites such as Wattpad. These stories feature non-canon ships, like Dean and Seamus, Harry and Luna and the infamous Draco and Harry. Writers express themselves and what they hope to see in novels in the future.
Reading fanfiction opened my eyes to see what else was possible outside of being limited to published, “appropriate” books. At the time, the books I found in the library consisted of only straight relationships. That said, one thing the library books did have was depictions of realistic romantic relationships.
Fanfiction is carried away by a sense of fantasy, and most pieces are not accurate depictions of healthy LGBTQ+ relationships. Forget the gay aspect; fanfiction does not accurately portray healthy relationships 99% of the time. There’s a reason it’s called fanfiction, not fanfact. For example, being sold to One Direction by your mother is not the most realistic way to fall in love with Harry Styles.
Now, some authors recognize what their fans want: characters that are diverse. When reading books, children want to see characters with whom they can identify. Rick Riordan includes non-cishet characters in his ever-popular “Percy Jackson” series. He has brought LGBTQ+ relationships to the page, including a gender-fluid character.
Becky Albertalli’s “Simon vs. The Homosapien Agenda” has been turned into a major motion picture. There are so many more books that represent the LGBTQ+ community. “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson, “They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera and “Red, White, and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston are just a few of the books that pop up when you google “gay books.”
However, there is still so much progress to be made. I have yet to read a book featuring a bisexual woman in a relationship with a man, or vice versa. I am excited to read more books featuring lesbian relationships and transgender characters with genuine stories. I hope that anyone sitting in the library will find a story that they can connect with and a message of empowerment and inspiration.