More than 40 of us took over the north row of gazebos by the pool at Friday's lunchtime to mingle and meet and talk Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allied Characters and Themes in Children's and Teen literature. We were joined by Arthur A. Levine and Tony Valenzuela, who were gracious and candid in their answers and comments.
We went around the circle and everyone introduced themselves to the group, sharing what they were working on and mentioning what (if any) GLBTQ content was included in their work.
A few illustrators wondered what opportunities existed for children's book illustrators to include queer content, and we spoke about Marla Frazee's "Everywhere Babies" and a new picture book Arthur A. Levine has coming out (as an author) "Best Best Colors" as examples of the power illustrators have to show diversity in their art and in the books children experience.
Arthur fielded questions on how to include a gay character in a way that wasn't stereotypical (make sure the character is a fully realized character - i.e., if they're muscular - why? how did they get that way?) and about the challenge of including queer content (and diverse content in general) in middle grade books where it's not the main character's focus.
Tony shared that this past year, there were more Childrens/YA submissions than 21 other categories (second most out of 23) for the Lambda Literary Award.
And I brought up, from my perspective blogging at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" that the tide is shifting - we're no longer in a world with only one or two books representing Queer characters - and with more representations, the pressure to make any one GLBTQ character representative, or perfect, lessens. (And who wants to read about perfect characters anyway?)
All in all, everyone's appetites were whetted for tomorrow's 11:15AM Workshop, when we'll be able to dive in even deeper!
A Look At The LGBTQ Marketplace - Palisades room
With Aaron Hartzler,
Arthur A. Levine
yours truly, Lee Wind.
Hope to see you there!