The importance of representation and community to LGBTQ+ teenagers

When I was little, I yearned for stories with people like me in them. I grasped at anything that seemed like representation of women who loved other women, even if the portrayal was judgmental and not at all uplifting. I fixated on isolated lines of fiction, on characters who weren’t even supposed to be women (in opera, women often play young male characters), and I lived in terror of existing stories in which we all met the horrible fates that TVTropes calls “Kill Your Gays.” They fed me a narrative in which our lives were destined for tragedy, and I’ve been clawing my way out of that narrative into adulthood.

It’s important that LGBTQ+ kids be surrounded by peers, role models, allies, and stories that include them, because only then will they have the confidence to demand respect in a world that is still under many circumstances hostile and stifling. An isolated queer youth, cut off from other kids like them, cut off from adults like them to look up to, with no straight people valuing them for their full selves and no characters like them to reassure them that they have a right to exist and have adventures — this is a child in danger. This is one of the reasons I told my mother that the true villain of my queer feminist fantasy novel The Second Mango isn’t any one human being — it’s ‘life being unfair’, or ‘the difficulties of life’.

Read the rest of my post over at Death, Books, and Tea.

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About Shira

Queer Jewish feminist author
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