I am pleased to welcome this week’s Guest Blogger, Hannah Clark, aka author A.G.Bellamy. Hannah offers up a very different sort of piece discussing the lack of exploration of gender identities in teen fictional characters.
I was sixteen when I realised that, for half of the film, Mulan had managed to convince General Li Shang that he was gay. “Mulan” is one of my favourite Disney films, one of a collection now known as “old Disney.” The title character must dress in drag in order to fight in the army, and by the end of the film comes to win the respect of the entire army based on her ability to combine both femininity and masculinity in order to defeat the Huns.
The role of LGBT characters has been an important factor for me in most of my reading and writing endeavours. I always wondered why most teen romances were about “boy meets girl” rather than “boy meets boy” or “girl meets girl.” It then occurred that in most storylines, the gay characters are just there to be the sassy gay guy-friend or the tough lesbian gal-pal. In Michael Grant’s Gone series, the character Dekka outs herself as a lesbian and is shown to develop around this part of her identity, although it is not often mentioned. Dekka is a strong character who keeps to herself, much like most of the non-lesbians I know in real life. Then again, I hang around with fairly nerdy/sporty crowd. Being panromantic myself, I break my back trying to find stories which include strong LGBTQPA characters like Dekka which aren’t classed as ‘gaylit’ or ‘homoromance.’ I find it shameful that the Western world concentrates so much on the idea of “the hero/heroine must find love with the opposite sex to be happy!” when it comes to literature. This ignores the many other gender identities in the many different cultures that inhabit this planet, and as such I believe that it is an author’s duty to explore as many identities as possible. There is a name for this duty: character development.
“Runes Shalt Thou Dream” is told from the perspective of an LGBTQPA youth named Matthew. His love interest, Ryan, has had no previous experience in relationships with either gender and does not have any interest in pursuing a relationship. In the few books I have read which introduce LGBTQPA characters (only five or so, I’m counting the Gone series as one), the LGBTQPA characters have had the most interesting personalities but are left unexplored and often ignored. In fact, the only LGBTQPA character who has been explored is Dekka. In “Runes Shalt Thou Dream” Matthew is explored in a psychological sense – his dreams slowly become reality and he struggles to find the line between them. The fact that he is gay is rarely if ever mentioned. Being a child born into the Norse faith, Ásatrú, Matthew has no religious obligation to feel ashamed about his homosexuality – the Vikings, in fact, celebrated homosexual sex as it was a display of dominance over the weaker men. Ásatrú has no literature condemning particular identities to an eternal doom, so all Matthew has to worry about is his father’s personal reaction to the news.
The continuing debate on marriage equality would be greatly helped by the inclusion and exploration of LGBTQPA characters in modern teen fiction; exploration is the best friend of the author, and if the author can help such a worthy cause it would be a great boon to Western philosophy.
Runes Shalt Thou Dream is now available on Amazon