Writer / Reader / Fandom Extraordinaire
Chiara / May 17, 2015 , Sun / books & reading, lgbtqia

This has been on my mind for a while now – and when I say a while, I mean a few months – and mainly pertains to reviews of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Several bloggers have simply not stated the fact that this is actually an LGBT novel about two boys who fall in love because it is a “spoiler”.

No. No, it is not a spoiler. Being something other than heterosexual is not a spoiler. Being gay or bisexual is not a spoiler. Falling in love with someone who is not a member of the opposite sex is not a spoiler. The fact that Ari and Dante fall in love is not. A. Goddamn. Spoiler.

It’s the reason why I read the book. It’s the reason why the book is beautiful. It’s the reason why there are stickers for LGBT YA book awards on the front cover. It is the reason why you should read the book.

Because it is beautiful. Because Ari didn’t know he was in love with Dante until he finally admitted it to himself and realised that there is nothing wrong with love between two boys. That the love between these two particular boys is the once in a lifetime kind of love that everyone – regardless of sexual orientation – wants.

It’s not a spoiler.

And making it a spoiler – by taking away one of the most important aspects of this novel – is erasure. It’s erasing the fact that Ari and Dante is an LGBT novel. That a boy (or girl) out there needs this book to show them that it is okay to love whoever you love because it’s love. And it’s right. It’s erasing the importance of this novel in the bookish world, and it’s erasing the role this book might play in someone’s life. And that erasure is not necessary. It’s horrible.

Sexual orientation of any character in any book is not a spoiler. Just because they are attracted to someone and that this attraction doesn’t conform to society’s expectations and norms does not mean that that attraction is a spoiler. It’s no more of a spoiler than the colour of their hair, or their sex. It’s simply part of who they are.

So please, if you’re thinking of hiding the sexual oritentation of a character because it’s a “spoiler” think twice before you do it. Because LGBTQIA+ novels need all the exposure they can get. People who want to read LGBTQIA+ novels need to be pointed towards these books. Because the erasure of sexual orientation is taking two steps back for the one step forward that was taken to publish the book.


13 Responses to sexual orientation is not a spoiler

  1. Romi says:

    Chiara, you write the most beautiful, right, fantastically wonderful posts I’ve ever read. I’m very much in love with all that you write, and I want you to know that. I truly adore your posts and you always pinpoint something that is so important, and you show how important it is so, so well. I’m not a little in love with your work. I have fallen for it utterly and truly.

    This is a standing ovation kind of post. So that’s what I’ll give you.

    • Chiara says:

      Romi, this comment is the most precious thing I have ever received. Thank you SO much. I’m so glad that you like my posts; it makes me truly happy. <3

  2. Alyssa says:

    Fabulous point. Unless the book itself frames it as a plot twist, which it doesn’t seem like it is, it’s super important that we blaze the diversity everywhere. I’ve picked up books simply because of diverse representation, and it’s terrible not to tell the world about that.

    • Chiara says:

      Thank you! I think diversity should be showcased and pointed out whenever it is present in a book – it’s so important to make these books known as much as possible.

  3. To me it still is a spoiler but not because of the LGBTQIA+ aspect. If that’s the reason reviewers don’t mention it, then I completely agree with you that it’s erasure. The reason I see it as a spoiler is the falling in love part. I like to go into a book not fully knowing yet who the love interests are and I like to indulge my imagination while I read, considering which characters fall in love or if they will even fall in love at all… Unless they fall in love in the first chapters and the rest of the story is premised upon that. If that’s the case, then yeah, falling in love isn’t a spoiler to me.

    • Chiara says:

      But sexual orientation is not synonymous with falling in love. If a character is gay, he’s not going to immediately fall in love with the next male character that is introduced to the story, just like a straight guy isn’t going to fall in love with the first female character introduced.

      In the case of Ari & Dante, the whole book is centred around the two boys, and it’s made pretty clear from the get go that Dante is gay and in love with Ari. And there’s also the fact that the book has been awarded two different LGBT awards – that didn’t happen for no reason.

      There’s no such thing as a spoiler when it comes to sexual orientation. When people write reviews of novels featuring heterosexual couples, no one keeps the love interest/s of the main character a secret. There shouldn’t be double standards when it comes to the same thing in LGBTQIA+ fiction.

  4. I can kind of see why they would want to say it was a spoiler though, seeing as it happens at the very end of the book. But yeah, I think it’s important as you said to portray that it is a beautiful, positive LGBT book <3

    • Chiara says:

      I can see why them ending up together might be a spoiler, but not their sexual orientation – just because they both like boys doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily like each other.

      It is really important! <3

  5. I agree and disagree with you all in one. Firstly, a fantasic post, like it’s really good.
    So I agree that a characters sexual orientation shouldn’t be hidden – not in any way, shape or form. The world needs to know about these books more than anything – they should not be hidden.
    However I think the falling in love, to me at least is considered a spoiler.
    I haven’t read Aristotle and Dante yet so I don’t know what happens. But I personally don’t like to know what characters fall in love with who – i like to find out for myself – I guess with this book it’s harder to say that they like boys because of the whole concept of the book. It’s about them two – they are in the title – so I guess by telling thier sexual orientation is a spolier.
    i think with other books it is easier to say what characters sexual orientation is without giving too much away. if you get what I mean.
    But I totally understand where you are coming from; it shouldn’t be hidden
    Thanks again for the post

    • Chiara says:

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it, Angel :)

      I think that people view LGBTQIA+ books and who the characters end up with under a different light to heterosexual books. For example: who are the love interests for Rose in Vampire Academy? Celaena in Throne of Glass? We can all name those love interests STRAIGHT away (no pun intended), and not one reviewer hesitates to mention any kind of romantic attraction between the characters, either. So why should it be different for LGBTQIA+ books? It feels like a bit of a double standard, to be honest.

      I consider whether people END UP together as a spoiler, but their sexual orientation and who they fall in love with don’t necessarily point to who they end up with at the end of the book.

      No problem, Angel! Thanks for your thoughts, dear ^.^

  6. This is lovely, Chiara – and so true! I actually had a think about this because I just read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and was recommending it to people and wondering what to tell them and what not to. You’re definitely right – it’s not a spoiler!

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