With the Supreme Court of India declaring that it is going to re-examine Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises same-sex relationships, it has become more important than ever to bring the issues of the LGBTQ community to the mainstream. And what better way is there to foster empathy than through films and books. Here is a list of writers, who are not just strong legitimate voices for the LGBTQ community, but also role models for many young people who might feel alienated. And they have been slowly making a mark in the ‘Young Adult’ (YA) corner of the publishing industry.
A writer and a LGBTQ activist, Harish Iyer was also one of the most vocal opponents of the recriminalisation of homosexuality in India. He has engaged in several awareness campaigns about the impact of the decision, and condemned the ruling via media advocacy. He has written articles and letters on the subject and appeared on top national television news shows to highlight the plight of the LGBTQ community in India in wake of the decision. Iyer was also named as one of the most influential gay men in the world by The Guardian in 2013. He is the author of a collection of short stories, “I’m Coming Out“, where he interviews famous Indian personalities like Pallav Patankar, Praful Baweja, Aruna Desai and Sonal Giani about their coming out stories. These inspirational accounts highlight their struggles and achievements and try to explore what it means to be gay in India. You can read his book here.
One of the far more well-known names in the YA genre, David Levithan’s first book “Boy Meets Boy“ was published in 2003. The book follows the standard romantic trope of “boy meets girl”, except here, both protagonists are boys living in a Utopian world where queerness is openly accepted. Levithan has co-written “Will Grayson, Will Grayson“ with another popular author, John Green. He also deals with gender fluidity in his book “Every You, Every Me”.
Her 2004 book “Luna“ is a sensitive and brilliant portrayal of a transgender teen’s struggle for acceptance. And her book “Between Mom and Jo“ is about a teenage boy growing up with two mothers, who separate due to their differences.
Silvera made his debut with his book “More Happy Than Not“ in 2015. The book revolves around sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto who is dealing with a family tragedy and finds solace in a new friend, Thomas. The book addresses bisexuality, depression, and grief. Following “More Happy Than Not“, Silvera published two books in 2017: “History Is All You Left Me” and “They Both Die at the End“. His latest book “What If It’s Us“ has been co-written with another YA author Becky Albertalli (the author of “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens“.
McLemore made her debut in 2015 with her book “The Weight of Feathers“. Although her first book was not centred on LGBTQ characters, it did establish her as a YA author with a flair for magical realism. Her second book “When the Moon Was Ours“ deals with queer identity and non-traditional families.
Selvadurai is from Sri Lanka and lives in Canada. He has written four books, out of which “Swimming in the Monsoon Sea” is a young adult novel. Set in 1980s Sri Lanka, the book revolves around fourteen-year-old Amrith whose orderly cheerful world topples over when his Canadian cousin comes visiting. Vying for his attention, Amrith fights with jealousy as he discovers that the girls in his town are also head over heels with his cousin.
A former TEDx speaker, Aniruddha Mahale is a published columnist living in Mumbai. He was featured on the Facebook page of Humans of Bombay on which he shared his story –
“I knew when I was 16 and I was sure of it when I was around 20. I told my sisters, cousins and important friends first, and I’m very open about it as well, but the final act only happens once you tell your parents — which I haven’t yet. Speaking with you now, I realise that this is just something I have to do…I don’t want to go through my life buried with a secret. So now that I’m doing this, I know I have a timeline and I have to tell them before your post comes out…so I’m going to do it tonight.”
“What are you going to tell them?
“That I bumped into Humans of Bombay, they asked me about my life and I told them I’m gay, but I’m still your son and I love you just as much.”
His book “Love Therapy” is about a mother who finds out that her son is gay. She decides to take matters in her own hands and ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality before he leaves for his MBA. You can read his book here.
This is a list of 7 LGBTQ Young Adult writers who we believe you should know about. Do you know more who you would want to add to this list? Tell us about them!