The authors of a novel for young adults who were told by a prospective publisher that they had to change the sexuality of a protagonist, from gay to straight, have found a new publisher who has allowed him to remain gay.
Back in September 2011, the two authors, Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown, who wrote a young adults’ post-apocalyptic novel and said a publisher, which they declined to identify, offered them a deal on the basis that they ‘straighten’ a gay character.
Publishers, Viking, an imprint of Penguin, has now taken on the the book, named Stranger, to print, winter 2014. It has five main characters, one of whom, Yuki, is gay and has a boyfriend, and two others are a lesbian couple.
Ms Brown said that the pair never considered making Yuki straight, because they wanted the book: “to be about the people who are so often left out …Latinos and African-Americans, Jews and Asian-Americans, gay boys and lesbian girls, multiracial teenagers and teenagers with physical and mental disabilities”, reported RawStory.
At the time of the recommendation from the original publisher, they said:
“When you refuse to allow major characters in YA novels to be gay, you are telling gay teenagers that they are so utterly horrible that people like them can’t even be allowed to exist in fiction.
“LGBTQ teenagers already get told this. They are four times more likely than straight teenagers to attempt suicide. We’re not saying that the absence of LGBTQ teens in YA sf and fantasy novels is the reason for that. But it’s part of the overall social prejudice that does cause that killing despair.”
Ms Brown also pointed to Malinda Lo’s statistical analysis of representation of LGBT characters in fiction for young adults, and said: “She found that less than 1% had any LGBTQ characters whatsoever, even in minor supporting roles.”
Other authors, including Jessica Verday and Nicola Griffith, have told of run-ins with publishers over gay characters.