Representation in literature gives readers a sense of identity – Inklings News
Many may not realize it, but all around us there are people and media that portray heterosexual relationships and effectively act as guides (for better or worse) for heterosexual roles in the society. So for those like me growing up queer, it can be hard to find role models. Therefore, I am always on the lookout for high quality products. media with queer representation. The following four books are among the best literary portraits of queer experience, relationships, and struggles that I have found.
Emily M. Danforth’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” follows the life of Cameron Post, a gay teenager growing up in conservative Montana. The first half of the story vividly documents her struggle with identity and discovering her sexuality as she grows up. The second half follows her journey after being discovered and sent to a conversion camp. Heartbreakingly similar to many queer teens, the book features beautiful prose and a thrilling journey documenting childhood innocence to discover one’s identity and sexuality amid a culture of religious homophobia. This book was adapted into a movie also with Chloe Grace Moretz.
“What they teach here, […] if you do not trust him, then you are told that you are going to hell, that not only everyone you know is ashamed of you, but that Jesus himself has abandoned your soul. And if you believe all of that, you still can’t make yourself good enough, because what you’re trying to change isn’t changeable. (Danforth)
Samantha Shannon’s “Orange Tree Priory” is an epic fantasy that, amidst magic, dragons and war, tells the love story of two women on opposite sides of history. Ead Duryan, lady-in-waiting to the queen, is also a member of a hidden society of mages sent to the Capitol to protect the queen with the very magic she has forbidden. Queen Sabran, meanwhile, is under pressure to conceive a daughter and continue the matriarchal lineage that has kept the kingdom safe for a thousand years. Don’t confuse this story with a romance. It deals with the complicated struggle of two women trying to fulfill the duties they are held to amid a time of great political turmoil, while exploring the potential of their relationship.
“Some truths are better buried. Some castles better guarded in the sky. There is promise in tales that have not yet been told. (Shannon)
“This is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone tells the story of two rival agents in a war across time. The story begins as Agent Red leaves a taunting letter on the battlefield for Agent Blue, and continues as their written exchanges become more intimate amid their growing disloyalty to the factions they represent. . This groundbreaking title is arguably one of the best queer romance books out there, with immersive prose and unparalleled character complexity.
“Books are letters in bottles, thrown in the waves of time, from one person trying to save the world to another” (El-Mohtar, Gladstone).
Tasha Suri’s “The Jasmine Throne” tells the story of a revolution in an ancient Indian fantasy empire. It follows a servant girl who hides her connection to a persecuted mystical religion as she serves in the prison of a disgraced princess. Princess Malini spends her drugged days in the Hirana, an ancient temple connected to the entrance to the magical, hidden ‘deathless waters’. Priya, a servant, is caught up in Malini’s manipulative quest to escape when her abilities are accidentally revealed. This tale sees the evolution of their unlikely relationship as the two characters’ goals increasingly align. Priya wants to survive. Malini wants to rule.
“After all, power makes everyone monstrous. At least a little.” (Suri)
Ultimately, the power that queer representation in books has over individuals cannot be underestimated. Seeing someone like you in a book can give a sense of belonging and identity to young readers who are still coming to terms with their sexuality. These books are some of the best queer representation out there, so get reading!