There’s been a lot of discussion in the book community recently about diversifying LGBTQIA+ representation and including more own voices rep.
For pride month, I wanted to delve deeper into this, and look at what queer readers themselves want to see more of in LGBTQIA+ books.
I asked a group of fantastic bloggers, bookstagrammers, and booktubers, who all identify as queer or somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ scale, what they wanted to see in upcoming books. These were their responses.
Ruby // Ruby’s Books
It’s such a difficult thing to narrow down, but what I’d love to see in queer books is normalisation. This is probably easier in fantasy, but I want to see situations where people are casually queer, and there’s love and acceptance and it’s nothing out of the ordinary. (I’m thinking like Priory here). As much as I connect to how homophobia is prevalent, it’s sometimes difficult to read about so I’d love queer positive settings, especially in fantasy!
Kirsty // Kirsty Reads Blog
As a pansexual person I obviously would love to see more pan rep in books and I’ve read some great ones, but I think we’re a few years away from it being more common. But in addition to that what I really want to see in general is more messiness. I feel like there’s so much pressure on authors for their characters to be perfect, well-behaved angels when they’re writing an LGBTQIA+ book. I want some mean characters, I want more morally grey characters. I live for people who maybe don’t make the best choices but learn from it.
Following this, I also want to see more books where characters go from thinking they’re one label to another because sexuality and gender are a spectrum and it can change over time. But after what happened with Ramona Blue, where people piled on the author because the main character realised she was bi but they thought she had been “turned” by a boy, I would be concerned about how people would take it.
Imi // Imi Reviews Books
In queer books, I want the world. I want to see people discovering their sexuality, deciding how or if they want a label, feeling comfortable in themselves. I want confident bi boys who realise they aren’t straight (like in RWRB), I want quiet girls who are kinky as heck and crazy sure of their sexuality while falling in love with an insanely outgoing girls who have no idea. I want trans and bi pairings, I want more pansexuality everywhere, I want someone to have a deep meaningful speech about the similarities and differences of pan and bisexuality so people GET IT, I want ace people finding love without compromising their sexual identity (like in Sawkill Girls), I want ace people being happy and content with platonic friendships.
I want enby people who are confident with themselves and assert their pronouns and speak out (like authors Victoria Lee / Cori McCarthy / Amy Rose-Capetta) I want enby romances and soul searching and happily ever afters. I want enby people realising they may be trans, or leaning more towards gender fluidity. I want readers to see that all of these eventualities are normal and acceptable.
There is such a wide spectrum of outcomes and possibilities and readers want to see their feelings represented. There’s a lot of work to do, but there are so many stories and own voices stories especially, that can explore these. Why aren’t they being published? We must demand more from the publishing industry.
LaRonda // Flying Paperbacks
I want more characters who are questioning. I want to see Google searches and uncertainty before finally finding a term that feels right.
Hollie // Hollieblog
As a lover of sci-fi and fantasy, I find it strange that most sci-fi/fantasy novels don’t have LGBT+ rep. You’d think if we can imagine dragons we’ll be fine with imagining LGBT+ people going on epic adventures. If fantasy could get on the same level as contemporary, that’d be great!
Lea // Drums of Autumn
I really like to see a spectrum of identities and experiences in queer books. Including several queer characters exposes the reader to different experiences and I find that such an important aspect of reading queer books. Be it someone questioning or not wanting to use labels, people who are closeted and those who are out and can be loud about it, happy experiences and sad experiences, and obviously the wide spectrum of both orientation and gender. It’s all out there and I love to see more than one represented in a book! But also…pirates. Queer pirates all day every day.
Jo // Jo Scribbles
I’ve found I’ve read quite a lot of M/M, or M/F with bi protagonists over the years, but not anywhere near enough F/F, so I’m trying to correct that now. But I want even more. More F/F YA high fantasies where nobody blinks an eye at anyone’s sexuality, like Furyborn by Claire Legrand (bi protagonists, but no F/F pairing). More F/F YA thrillers (but where no-one dies because of their sexuality), like People Like Us by Dana Mele. More F/F YA stories that are atmospheric and creepy and magical and wonderful, like The Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle.
But what I am absolutely desperate for is a YA novel where the protagonist is completely confused about their sexuality, because they’ve not yet come across the hetero/homo/biromantic identities, and don’t know that romantic attraction and physical attraction are separate, and don’t always match up.
Even if it’s a small part in a wider story, I would just love to see this aspect of my identity- as a heteroromantic bisexual – explored, because I’ve not yet seen it. And it took until my 30s to figure what the hell was going on and that no, I wasn’t straight. I would just so love to see this, so maybe it doesn’t take someone else as long to figure things out.
Lauren // Northern Plunder
I would love to see more and better rep for ace people and poly relationships. Seeing these explored in fiction is likely to give more people a better understanding and contextualised view of how these fit and work in the real world.
Sexuality is fluid and identifying as ace was a really odd path to walk down, as I spent most of my life thinking I was broken. Seeing it on page introduced me to something I was able to research into, find more facts on, and realise: I’m OK. I also think it would be good to see more of those who already identify as asexual and aren’t struggling, as well as figuring it out in a safe environment!
Michael // Fandom Forever UK
My favourite queer stories are ones that show that LGBT+ people are more than just their sexuality; I’ve read many stories where being gay is the main characters only personality trait, but we are so much more than that!
Find Michael on Twitter.
I would love to see more stories with queer characters, especially main characters where their sexuality isn’t used as a huge plot point. For example, yes that girl is a lesbian but she’s also a space pirate who’s parents think she’s at a posh boarding school, she has a baby space dragon called Fizz and she could shoot a pine cone off your head from 100ft away.
On a more personal level, as a pansexual myself who happens to be married to a cis male, I especially love to see characters who are bi or pan experiencing attraction for multiple genders, but that are still considered valid no matter the gender of their partner.
Lowe the handsome, pansexual bounty hunter with stunning blue eyes shouldn’t be considered less queer because he fell in love with Lola, the sassy, frizzy haired, thick-thighed robot mechanic and not Markus the shy but loyal pastry chef who collects gemstones, even though he had a crush on them both.
Also, relationships don’t necessarily define someone’s sexuality. Maybe Markus (the shy pastry chef) is gay, but he’s only dated women before. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’d love to see just how broad sexuality and gender identities can be reflected in the stories I read with interesting characters who are more than their labels.
Alice // Married To Books
As a queer reader and writer, there is an immense shortage of stories with queer rep that are told in verse form. I would love to see some more queer poetry/novels in verse published. I would love to read more queer stories set in universities/sixth form settings and involving more real-life events, such as renting a flat or house for the first time. I love reading scenes where queer characters open up about their sexuality and what they want from life.
What do you want to see more of in queer books? Are there certain topics or types of rep you’d like to see more of?
Huge thanks to all the bloggers and readers who shared their thoughts in this post! Don’t forget to check out their blogs/channels/social media, all of which are linked next to their name.