And if you can’t shape your life the way you want,
at least try as much as you can
not to degrade it
by too much contact with the world,
by too much activity and talk.
Try not to degrade it by dragging it along,
taking it around and exposing it so often
to the daily silliness
of social events and parties,
until it comes to seem a boring hanger-on.
And if you can’t shape your life the way you want,
Anonymous asked: Are you gay?
No. Although, if you put Mila Kunis in front of me, I’d probably revise my answer.
“That took balls.”
“Please,” I said with a snort, “that took ovaries. Of which I have two.”Darynda Jones, First Grave on the Right
Thousands of years ago the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burnt at the stake he’d taught his brothers to light, but he left them a gift they had not conceived and he lifted darkness from the face of the Earth.Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
[image description: an illustration of two young people with long hair both readin the same book, one with leaning on the other’s shoulder. The caption is “No way. Did those two ladies just totally kiss? Best. Book. Ever.”
There has been a tremendous amount of dialogue this past week about queer books—or lack thereof—in young adult literature. Agents and publishing houses have been vocal in stating their support for publishing books with queer protagonists, which was inspiring and hopeful—but then author Malinda Lo compiled statistics on queer YA books, and the numbers don’t match up with the support. Publishing is about two years ahead of what we see now—books that are being released in this year were probably bought last year or in 2009. The stated support may show us that, in two years, publishing will look very different. Instead of less than one percent of books being queer, hopefully we’ll be able to say that’s changed. I’m eternally optimistic that the attitudes of the nation (more than half this nation wants gay marriage, for example) are part of the influence in the publishing industry. And I’m eternally optimistic that the publishing industry is taking a good, long, hard look at its numbers and saying: “you know what? We probably CAN do better. One percent! That’s kind of crap! We should DO SOMETHING.”
But here’s the very important caveat: the publishing industry is a business like any other, and a business is influenced by numbers and dollars.
There were a lot of people this week who were outraged about authors who said they were asked to de-gay a character. The outrage was palpable, the story spread near and far. People felt helpless and angry—how do you do something about a thing you can’t change, that you have no control over? People talked about it and the dialogues were inspiring and hopeful. I must say that as a queer woman writing queer books, I was elated by the number of agents and publishers who stepped forward and said: we want these books.
Now, getting back to that caveat. I know that one of the major reasons that agents/publishers stepped forward, quickly and decisively to say “we want these,” was because they’re open minded, they believe in these types of stories—all the warm, good stuff. But one of the reasons was also because, in that moment, people were demanding it.
They are a business. They buy books that they know people want—because people wanting books translates to sales. It’s not a “big, bad corporation” thing, but rather a “well, duh” thing. Authors have stepped forward to say “I was asked to de-gay a character, too, because they knew it wouldn’t sell.” Many authors said that.
Yes, completely and totally that’s on the agents and publishers to change. The dialogue about queer books in young adult lit was inspiring and positive, and many stepped forward and said they want these books. That’s wonderful, more are doing that, yay.
But now, as the people who demanded it, it’s on us to follow through with that demand and support gay YA literature.
Are you pissed off that there are so few queer books about young adults? Are you angry that you’re a young lesbian and you have no books you cherish? Are you pissed that you’re a young gay man and you have no favorite gay books? Are you mad that you’re a straight person and really want to support your gay friends and just generally be an upstanding awesome-person and read gay books, but they’re really effing hard to find?
You. Yes, you can change that.
The world is a gigantic place, and we often look at the unending list of problems in it and get really effing discouraged. “How can I change anything? I’m just one person.” But with a group of like minded people, you are not one person, are, in fact, a movement. And movements get shit done. Movements change the world.
You are now part of a movement of people who want queer YA. Congratulations! You’re angry that there aren’t more queer books, you want a world that has queer book choices…that’s a great start. Now, you have to begin changing the world so that it reflects what you want. How? By buying, reading and talking about queer YA books. The publishers are looking at the numbers. Now, more than ever before, they’re looking at the numbers, they’re beginning to think “huh. I wonder if there’s something to the fact that so many people are demanding queer books. I wonder if the numbers reflect their wants?”
They’re watching. They’re watching what you buy and how often you buy it. They’re paying attention to the libraries ordering books, they’re paying attention to the conversations on Twitter (obviously, many of the agents and publishers went public on Twitter saying they were looking for good queer books to rep/publish, because of the outrage on Twitter) and the blogosphere. They’re watching and they’re waiting.
You’re angry? Do something about it. There’s a great list here of science fiction and fantasy gay YA books (Note: I AM on that list. I thought I should mention that as I endorse it. ;D), Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey (who actually wrote a really kick ass post about buying gay YA here) just came out. Buy it. If you can’t afford it, ask your library for it.
That needs repeating: if you can’t afford to buy gay YA books, please don’t think you can’t do anything. Ask your library to carry a book you’ve wanted to read. Libraries are awesome. They listen to people who ask.
The world was never changed by people finding injustice/something wrong and then simply pointing at it. Actions lead to consequence, and consequence changes the world.
Do you want gay YA books in the world?
Support them, and it will happen.
(Originally posted at MuseRising.)
I do not hide behind facades and sometimes I fear rainy days and intersections. I hold my breath on days like that, when I am sad and down and lonely and crossing through a street, even if it there is a stop sign. I am afraid of dying on days like that; never seeing the end of what I’m going for. I’m eternally afraid that there is always something on the other side—something beyond my range of view that I can hardly see: something fuzzy and faded but warm and comforting, beckoning me to join it, embrace it.
I try and stay healthy and fashionable and keep my hair maintained as the wind blows it all around. I smile at boys and try and not smile at girls. I talk in classes and keep my voice down when I’m feeling anxious. I am helpful and friendly, at least I think so. I do not mind a hard day’s work; I know that I am not above it. I enjoy family parties even though they don’t talk to me; I sleep in the nude in summer because my air condition doesn’t work and the Texas heat keeps on rising. I am afraid of men, though I am gay, I am afraid of their stares, their shoulders, their arms, their hands, their lips, their asses, their cocks, their feet. I am afraid of their eyes which watch me, which pick me apart, which analyze me and tell me that I am not a man.
I don’t like the taste of beer and I hate that I don’t like the taste of beer. I get anxious at parties and almost blacked out at my high school prom due to anxiety. I went to prom alone and it never occurred to me—really occurred to me that is—that I went alone till a year later. I went with friends, I assumed, but even then my friends were all in pairs. They were all coupled up and I wasn’t and there I was alone in the dark trying not to pass out, thinking about all the good I have done and all the good I am. I held my breath like I do when I pass through intersections; the men’s eyes were on me and I wish that for a second they would stop judging me. Gay men saying, “you’re not gay enough”, straight men saying “you’re not straight enough” party men saying “you’re not social enough” introvert men saying “you’re not introverted enough”. You’re not artistic enough, you’re not deep enough, you’re not fashionable enough, you’re not cute enough, you’re not man enough, you’re not woman enough, you’re not butch enough, you’re not femme enough, you’re not insightful enough, you’re not writer enough; artist enough; loving enough; friendly enough; caring enough. You’re not enough.
I do not hide behind facades, or so I have told myself before. I am afraid of rainy days sometimes, and intersections, and red-haired boys with perfect smiles, and blond haired boys with perfect eyes. I am afraid of men and fall in love with women. I love people too much; I convince myself that I need them in my life and hurt when they don’t need me. I let the past strangle me and believe the future is full of failure and yet I still hold my breath and hope that I don’t die before I get to see the things that are just beyond the horizon: the fuzzy things that are warm and comforting—that beckon me towards them with open arms.
Kitty proofreading Jean Paul Sartre.