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Celebrate National Coming Out Day With Some LGBTQ YA Literature!

By Appraisingpages @appraisjngpages

October 11th, 2015 marks the 27th annual National Coming Out Day! This day celebrates those who have come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and allies. October 11th was chosen as the official day because it also the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian rights. Check out the campaign video for this year’s coming out day:

So, why is coming out so important? Why is it necessary to make your stance known or to let others know your true feelings? It is important for a variety of reasons, but one reason that resonates with me is visibility. Growing up in a Catholic household I knew very little about homosexuality or even just sexuality in general. It wasn’t until I got much older that I started critically thinking about the struggles of my LGBTQ friends and of my struggles with finding a sexual identity. Stories give visibility to these struggles and it is thanks to this day that we get a chance to highlight the importance of coming out stories. It is stories that helped me, and so many others have the courage to come out as LGBTQ or as an ally. It is stories that give voices to the millions of teens and young adults struggling with hiding such a big part of their identities and it is stories that can change a person’s mindset or at least advocate acceptance. Now that we have covered the importance of visibility and the power of stories, lets dive it to some LGBTQ novels that center on coming out.

One of the major themes in LGBTQ is often coming out and the struggles that happen with coming out. While the LGBTQ genre is relatively new, it has gotten major steam in the past few years. But what exactly makes a good YA coming out novel? I read an article a couple years ago that highlighted some of the aspects that a good coming out novel and one of the things that the writer mentioned was “A good coming out novel is about more than just coming out.” I agree, the best LGBTQ novels I have read do a good job of interweaving the main narrative and the coming out aspect. At the same time, these novels have the power to educate and a good coming out novel does just that. It educates the reader without alienating them and allows them to emotionally connect even if the reader may not be going through the same issues that the protagonist is facing. So, what are some good YA coming out novels? Glad you asked! Here are some of my favorites:

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Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden’s is a great story about two young girls that fall in love. What I liked most about this story is that their love begins like a friendship, which I am a total sucker for. The protagonist Liza meets Annie one day while she is on suspension. The two bond and soon their friendship begins to grow into something more. Liza has never thought that she may be gay, but she just can’t seem to get Annie out of her head. When Liza and Annie finally do take their relationship to the next level they realize that just because they are happy doesn’t mean everyone else is. This is a great novel for people just getting into the genre.

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Hero by Perry Moore is a unique coming out novel because it deals with….wait for it….superheroes!!! I personally freaked out when I found out catwoman was bisexual. There are not many LGBTQ novels that stray from realistic fiction so if you are one of those people who love superpowers, supernatural or things of that nature I recommend this book for you. The story centers on the main character Thom, who is the son of a disgraced superhero. Thom has many secrets such as that he has developed superpowers, he is a member of an elite superhero team and the biggest secret of all: He’s gay. His father does not approve of homosexuality, so Thom decides to keep that a secret but is his dad anger really worth lying to himself?

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz focuses on the lives of two young teens with some very philosophical names. Dante and Aristotle are two Mexican-American teens trying to find their way in this crazy world. Ari is an angry teenager who lives up to his name. Dante is a poetry-loving swimmer who seems to have nothing in common with Ari. When these two loners start hanging out a wonderful friendship develops, and they soon realize their friendship may grow into something more. The characters in this book are beautifully written, and I guarantee the ending will give you all the feels.

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Luna by Julie Anne Peters is a great story about a teen named Liam. Liam hates who he is during the day, but at night he transforms into Luna. Liam is transgender, and it is only at night that he can be who he really is. When Liam makes the choice to finally come out, is his family and friends ready to accept him for who he truly is? This novel is one of the first LGBTQ novels I ever read, and I think it is still one of the best I have ever read. There are not too many novels that focus on the lives of trans teens, but this story does a great job pf covering trans issues such as acceptance and self-identity.

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Ask The Passengers by A.S King tells the story of Astrid and how she tries to sort her sexual identity in private. The only people she tells are thousands of miles in the air in the airplanes she watches pass overhead. When her cover is blown, she starts getting pressured by the people are her to choose a label so that they can put her is a box. Sexual identity is not that simple and Astrid learns that the hard way. While this story is not one of my favorites, I really liked the character of Astrid and the idea of how labels seem to have so much power. The magical realism presented in this story is also very good, and I recommend it if you enjoy that genre.

For some reviews of some of the books I recommended and some more recommendations check out the video below.There are many other LGBTQ books and coming out novels, but we still have a way to go. While there are more novels than ever covering lesbian and gay characters, there is still a lack of transgender and bisexual characters that I hope will be resolved with time. Do you have any favorite coming out novels? Stories?  Share your comments below and happy national coming out day!


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