Sunday, 6 January 2008

Queer Children: Courage

A PS to the previous post, about the way that (though this is not JKR's fault) I was also enraged by people responding to the outing of Dumbledore by saying that JKR was 'brave'. No, telling people after your books have sold a trillion copies that actually one of the characters was gay, even though it's not mentioned in the books, is not 'brave'. Having a gay supporting character in children's literature in 2007 is not actually terribly 'brave', either: in Diane Duane's very popular So You Want To Be A Wizard series (first book published in 1983), the main wizardly mentors to the child characters are a gay couple, Tom and Carl. Jacqueline Wilson - an incredibly popular and commercially successful UK children's writer (and the most borrowed author in British libraries, having finally overtaken Barbara Cartland about five years ago) - has minor gay characters in many of her books, in addition to Cam, the woman who adopts Tracy Beaker in the wildly successful The Story of Tracy Beaker and its sequels, who is never actually explicitly said to be gay, but seems to me not to be one of those short-haired straight women with no interest in men who don't go home for Christmas because their mother disapproves of their 'lifestyle' and whose best friends are a butch/femme styled pair of women. (Jacqueline Wilson has also just written her first explicitly gay-themed novel, Kiss, which by the way is fucking awesome - her best book by miles.)

Let's end on a cheering note. Most of you probably know that my splendid and shiny girlfriend J is in fact Jenny Pausacker, the author of the 1985 lesbian YA novel What Are Ya? (which is still one of the best queer YA novels ever. Well, the week that the Dumbledore story hit, J's best friend Kerry was on TV or something, and hence had to be made up, which she was, by a young man in a very tight pink t-shirt saying WHAT CLOSET? Kerry asked him about it, and he said: I read a book called 'What Are Ya?' when I was a kid which made me determined never to hide. Which... yayy.

While I'm blowing Jenny's trumpet, by the way, here's a link to an audio file of the speech David Levithan made at an Australian YA conference, which he starts by saying that after a conversation with Jenny he tore up his notes and started the speech again. And in which I'm pretty sure he calls Jenny brave, an adjective that I think she genuinely deserves.

1 comment:

nixwilliams said...

thank you for all the links! the podcast is awesome, as is the story about the 'what closet' guy. :D

and of course i agree with you re: jkr's supposed "bravery".