TOP 10 YA LGBT CHARACTERS

In a previous Top 10 post, we have shared some of our (and the community's) favorite LGBT-themed Young Adult books. Thankfully (and mercifully), we have found the choices to be plenty, and the list still left us with many more to read, explore and choose from.

Our picks of our top 10 LGBT-representative characters in YA was, therefore, inevitable. These are the characters whose understanding of themselves and their sexuality was a new and refreshing take on how we see the LGBT community in general, and what we all should aspire to, gender and sexuality regardless. From gay to bi, from transgender to asexual, we've come across a bit of everything in our

Is the LGBT community fairly and commonly represented in literature? Clearly not. But are we taking steps in the right direction? Definitely. And the authors on this list are the ones we can thank the most for it (in terms of YA).





1. Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter)


Albus Dumbledore's sexuality has never been a point of discussion in the Harry Potter series. Apart from a few minor hints, the story of Dumbledore's youth has mostly revolved around other aspects of his relationship with Gellert Grindelwald. Nevertheless, since J.K. Rowling's reveal that Dumbledore was, in fact, a homosexual man, the discussion in the bookish community (and beyond!) has sparked debates, arguments, analyses, and - most importantly - a new wave of acceptance and understanding. To have one of the wisest, bravest and most noble characters in modern literature be gay was a huge step in the LGBT book culture, and we were not the least surprised that it was J.K. Rowling who sparked a trend which many have since followed.


2. Ronan Lynch (The Raven Cycle)


"Ronan Lynch lived with every sort of secret," begins the second book in The Raven Cycle series, "[His secret] was perfect in its concealment. Ronan did not say it. Ronan did not think it. He never put lyrics to the second secret, the one he kept from himself. But it still played in the background."

It is important that Ronan Lynch is gay. Important, because it was never explicitly stated, but - as author Maggie Stiefvater puts it - it plays prominently in the background. Important, because Ronan Lynch, with a shaved head, tattoes, a vocabulary made 50% of swear words, and a penchant for illegal substances, illegal racing, illegal everything, contests the media's frequent stereotyping of a gay man as essentially and necessarily effeminate. Important, because Ronan comes to terms with his secrets as one does with all necessary self-realization - slowly, gradually, and then with abandon. Important, because Ronan's tenderness rears its head in the oddest of times, and in the most beautiful of ways.


3. Magnus Bane (The Shadowhunter Chronicles)


Cassandra Clare's Magnus Bane thinks of himself as "a freewheeling bisexual". Magnus has dated old (Vampire) women, and young (Shadowhunter) men. He has worn glitter while casting the deadliest of spells, and shown up in underwear for gatherings bound to end in outright war. Magnus is, in other words, the picture of being comfortable in one's own skin, which extends to his sexuality. In an interview, Cassandra Clare has one said that she sometimes gets hate mail where people argue that her LGBT characters "don't suffer enough". This is why Magnus Bane is so very, very necessary on this list, and in YA literature in general.


4. Valentina (The Coldest Girl In Coldtown)


Coldtowns are not particularly hospitable places. They are exactly what you imagine would happen if you attempted to quarantine and seal hundreds of Vampires in very close quarters. It ends poorly for most. But one of the characters managing this world gracefully, and doing well for herself in the process, is Valentina, a transsexual woman and clothing store owner in the Coldtown where the lead characters end up. Holly Black's inclusion of a transsexual character was so new in the world of YA, especially paranormal YA, that it warranted a slow clap and a standing ovation. Her refusal to have this character become a convenient plot point (and die, as it usually happens) to benefit the other, more conventional characters - all the more so.


5. Sarah Dunbar (Lies We Tell Ourselves)


There are thousands of accounts daily about how difficult it sometimes is to be different in the community of the same - even today. In some parts of the world, homophobia runs rampant and LGBT rights are all but non-existent. But never does it strike us what strides we've made, however slowly, than while reading Robin Talley's Lies We Tell Ourselves, an account of one of the first African-American girls to attend a previously all-white high school in 1959 Virginia, especially as she falls in love with a white girl, the daughter of the leader of the segregationist movement. Sarah's strength is encouraging, inspiring, empowering. And we're better off as people for having experienced it with her.


6. Jamie Roth (Mara Dyer)


Arguably, Mara Dyer's Jamie didn't necessarily need to be the token black friend and the token Jewish friend and the token gay friend, as he refers to himself at one point in this series. But Jamie's defining feature in this trilogy is not his race, or his religion, or even his sexuality - it is his charisma, his power, his incredible rightness. As some of the more conventional characters barely manage to stay sane, Jamie exudes an ease which once again underlines the message that being gay doesn't mean having to suffer for it.


7. Petra West (Beauty Queens)


First and foremost, Libba Bray's decision to include a transgendered woman in a book like Beauty Queens was a huge statement in the industry where transgendered characters are still woefully underrepresented. That Petra has qualities, talents and abilities that extend way beyond her sexuality and that she isn't defined by it alone is another commendable aspect for which Libba and Petra deserve a place on this list.


8. Patrick (The Perks of Being A Wallflower)


Patrick, said Stephen Chbosky, was an amalgamation of various friends he has had over the years - and various gay men he has known who have slowly but surely learned to be comfortable in their own skin. The message of "even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there" is a particularly powerful one for all principal characters of The Perks of Being A Wallflower, and particularly relevant for Patrick, who learns that sexuality is not a matter of choice, nor can it be willed away - but it can be explored freely, safely and with those who deserve us in return.


9. A (Every Day)


By the nature of the circumstances, David Levithan's 'A' is essentially asexual, and essentially agendered. Every day, 'A' inhabits a new body, a new soul and a new life. Some days, they are a man. Other days, they are a woman. Thus has 'A' failed to identify with any gender and any sexual orientation. Given the utter misrepresentation of such characters in fiction and non-fiction alike, 'A' is a tremendously important character. As 'A' slowly falls in love with a girlfriend of the most recent body he embodies, we cannot quite bring ourselves to refer to him as fully asexual. But 'A' certainly challenges and brings forth the question of gender and sexual identity in a new and powerful way. As such, they are wholly deserving of a place on this list.


10. Syd (Proxy)


We said this for just about every character on this list so far, but Alex London's Syd is tremendously important. Syd is important not just for being a gay character in a YA book. He is important because he is the lead character in a YA dystopian book (series). He is important because his strength and his relevance to this world and this rebellion are akin to Katniss's in The Hunger Games. And as Katniss is praised for her strength and resolve, so should Syd be. Neither, admittedly, has much chance to fall in love. But both manage to, regardless, and Syd's marrying of love with instilling a change in the world is something even this non-dystopian (arguably) world needs so, so desperately. Syd is a revolutionary, a hero, a game-changer. And Syd is a gay man. It has not been done enough. But hopefully, just as Syd has sparked a revolution, he will also spark a trend.





Who are some of your favorite LGBT characters in YA (or any genre at all)? What are your favorite books which tackle the subject of gender, identity and/or sexuality? Let us know in the comments below, or find us on social media and leave us a message.

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TOP 10 YA LGBT CHARACTERS
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1 comments:

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Sarah
11 October 2015 at 17:36

This entire list. OMG.
What you wrote about Ronan is so perfect.

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