Oh, I know they’re out there. Goodreads, one of the largest online reading websites has dozens upon dozens of lists of LGBTQIA+ books, and many of these titles grace my own To Be Read list.
But my question is: where are they?
I walk into a bookstore. On display I can see The Fault in Our Stars, Game of Thrones, the ever present Harry Potter, and a range of other novels that consumers are cracking open their wallets for. But where, on display, are the LGBTQIA+ novels? The novels that represent gender diversity and sexuality?
Well, to be frank – they’re nowhere. Even when I walk beyond these wildly popular book-to-movie adaptations about heterosexual characters, the LGBTQIA+ books are nowhere to be found. There’s no specific LGBTQIA+ section (although that comes with its own problems), and there are no LGBTQIA+ books in the general fiction sections, either.
So I try my hand at the library. I search the title I’m looking for, and the ever-infuriating search terms found no matches pops up on my screen. I finally give up and order online, and even then it’s only available at the supplier and takes three weeks to arrive.
Sure, there are some exceptions to this. Once I saw an LGBTQIA+ book in the Young Adult section of my local chain bookstore and I grabbed my friend’s arm and practically squealed. “I’m so excited!” I said. “They’ve actually stocked an LGBTQIA+ novel.”
Should I be this excited about one sexual/gender diverse novel (and by a popular author at that) in one chain bookstore? No. Because novels which showcase the diversity of the human race, with differing sexuality and gender identity being some of the most defining diverse features, should be on the shelves. They should be on display next to The Hunger Games and Nicholas Sparks. These books shouldn’t be hidden away from view at the supplier, never to see the harsh fluorescent light of a bookstore (or library, for that matter). I should be able to walk into a store, LGBTQIA+ novel title in mind, and find it right away. I shouldn’t have to special order, or come away disappointed in the lack of diversity expressed by my local bookstores.
Where are the LGBTQIA+ novels? Why aren’t they on display, or on shelves in bookstores and libraries?
The book industry is taking baby steps, in the way that LGBTQIA+ novels are actually being published and that these titles are selling, too. But sometimes baby steps aren’t enough. Sometimes giant steps need to be taken for the baby steps to matter.
And one of those giant steps is to provide these titles for the everyday consumer without asking them to jump through hoops to finally get their hands on that coveted diverse title.
P.s. Please don’t forget to check out my welcome post, where you can win an LGBTQIA+ novel :D