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Literature needs more gay romance, gay author warns

Luke Mintz May 30, 2017
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Award-winning gay author Patrick Ness has called for more depiction of gay romance and sex in literature.

He has warned that gay teenagers risk being abandoned to “porn and Grindr“.

The British-American author, best known for his young adult books Chaos Walking and A Monster Calls, said in an interview this week with The i that, for same-sex relationships, “authors tend to shy away from anything much beyond a kiss or a fleeting reference”.

“A book with two boys being intimate, still – still! – in 2017 feels risky,” he said.

“Why should that be? Why doesn’t the 17-year-old me deserve to see himself in a book? And there are a lot of 17-year-old mes around. A lot of us.”

He used the interview to discuss his new novel, Release, which chronicles a day in the life of Adam Thorn, a 17-year-old gay teenager desperate to break free from the confines of his small town American home.

The book, recently published in the UK, has already prompted controversy in the US, where some critics have called for it to be banned.

Although Ness’ own upbringing is similar to the one described in the novel – he was raised in a devout Christian family in the remote town of Washington, Virginia, during the 1980s – he insisted that Release is “a work of fiction”.

“My father is not in these pages,” he added.

Ness discussed his concern for today’s gay teenagers.

He said: “If you don’t talk to an LGBT teen about sex honestly and frankly and with the same lack of judgement, and with care, compassion and humour as Judy Blume does, then you’re abandoning them to porn and Grindr.”

“How can that be any good – to the kid, to their self-image, to their relationships with people, to society?…It’s neglectful.”

LGBT education has been a hot political issue in the UK during recent months.

The Labour Party’s manifesto promises to make mandatory sex education LGBT-inclusive in all schools.

The party also says it will roll out LGBT anti-bullying training for all teachers.

The Conservative manifesto, meanwhile, does not specifically mention LGBT education, but does promise to fight global persecution based on sexuality, and has committed to “push forward with our plan for tackling hate crime at home”.

Related topics: gay literature, Patrick Ness

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