Quick Things You Need To Know:
- We have a growing collection of books featuring gay uncles (thanks, 90’s!) and gay parents (thanks 00’s!) But not many books featuring gay protagonists. So these are those
- I’d like to normalize homosexual crushes as much as heterosexual crushes (and if I can ever find it – pansexual crushes!) nice and early before kids get the idea that heterosexuality is the default, and that kids somehow convert to bi/pan/homosexuality in their 20’s.
- These books involve actual relationships, crushes, or romance. There are books out there that attempt to ‘code’ characters as gay (Jack not Jackie, Small Saul) but I’m not interested in creating stereotypes of what ‘gay’ looks like for my kids. Gayness looks like loving someone of the same sex (or at least finding them attractive) – not limp wrists and vests.
Quick & Messy Book List:
Books featuring gay protagonists (not parents or uncle/aunts)
- Jerome By Heart
(scotto) – more vague than i wanted. Jerome could just be a best friend, and Q & R2 feel this way about each other already. i like the story, but it kind of blurs the line between crushes and regular best friends. but it was a helpful jumping off point to discuss crushes, and Q got a chance to talk about (and mourn) his past and current crushes and broken heart from unrequited love. parents seem more like they just want him to stop chattering for a second at the table and it’s not clear that htey’re being homophobic. both 4 & 6 were mostly distracted by his obscenely fancy toy collection, and Q loved the book because htey are blitely blocking traffic, which is more of a derailment than a help understanding the story. original is in french. lgbtq+, validating gay boys. best friends, crushes, love
- Maiden & Princess
- When We Love Someone, We Sing To Them
(Martinez) bilingual english/spanish. Great book for kids looking for healthy ways to handle crushes – in this case, it’s a serenade. Character is gay and it’s normalized, not addressed as unusual. multiracial latinx boy with dark-skinned mom (afrolatinx?) and fair blonde haired father (Papi), has a crush on a black boy. smart and gentle brown boys / #BrownBoyJoy. written by a gay Latino immigrant because of the lack of serenades for gay boys, touches on serenades as they relate to Latinx culture. at 4.5 & 6.5 the kids weren’t that into it – I think it’d be a powerfully validating book for #OwnVoices LGBTQ+ but I’m still glad we got to read a book normalizing gay boys.
- Tea Dragon Society
(O’Neill) I perceive protagonist to be south asian or possibly Black, feminine. Mentor uses ‘he’ pronouns, wears skirts, and earlier in the story presents as feminine (skrits, puffy sweaters, feminine stances, dangly earrings, artificial breasts (no breasts when shirtless)). another character is physically disabled (uses a wheelchair) and how he got that way is in the back story. this would be a fun independent read for readers normalizing nonbinary trans characters. gorgeous illustrations, background character (dead tea dragon person) had a hijab. thought this would be too slow paced, but Q loves it at 6.9. has been talking about tea dragons nonstop since. illustrations are adorable. trans characters, normalizing LGBTQ+. weak storytelling but gorgeous illustrations. mild theme of a crush between two girls
- Prince & Knight (Haack)
- Santa’s Husband
- A Day in the life of Marlon Bundo – keller – actual book is way more entertaining than the video for some reason. hilarious AND effective, shows our kids how unfair laws against gay marriage are, and how taking control with voting works. when the stinkbug is a douche, the animals realize they get to decide who is in charge, and they vote him out. the end page where they are dreaming of being fathers with a baby bunny made our entire family squeal and kinda almost cry. i didn’t expect to like this as much as I did – thought it would be too adult-centered or talk down to kids, but instead it was PERFECTION. silly, books adults enjoy, gay rights, lgbtqi+ history, gay marriage, animals bunnies, politics, voting, democracy, falling in love.
- Princess Princess Ever After
- Happy birthday, alice babette – kulling. quirky story of two elderly (well, 50/60’s ish) women, Q enjoyed at 6.5, which I didn’t expect. historical fiction on gertrude stein & Alice toklas – codes more as a friendship than as lovers, but whatever, women’s history, interdependence. aside from knowing that stein was a poet, we don’t learn much about the women’s careers, but more about their relationship. more about gifting really – if you want to make a gift for someone, stick with what you’re good at (stein burns food and leaves a mess for alice but makes a lovely poem). thoughtful gifting
- The Answer (Stephen Universe) – way too abstract and confusing. need to know what jewels are and what it means to merge them together, not helpful unless you’re familiar with steven universe characters.. nice that it normalized lesbian romance. lgbtq+, maybe 7.5+ backstory of a character
- Princess Li – amavisca – Not wild about this – both because the story is a little unengaging, but also because of the orientalism / domineering chinese father trope. feels like it’s written for adults.
- Backyard fairies – wahl – boring, but includes brown and black fairies and even two fairies kissing – feels more like a lesbians fantasy than a story that normalizes or destigmatizes lesianism.
- America – the life and times of America Chavez – villalobos – terrible, messy storytelling. third illustrator was actively hideous. all over the place, made no sense, and ham-fisted (I liked how campy it was, but we never get an idea of WHY we’re naming a sorority after leelumultipass when that movie was fucked up from a feminist standpoint.) the ‘big reveal’ was SO obvious and painful, th main character is obnoxious, and none of the dialogue or relationships make any sense. not much sex (some lesbians kissing and getting out of bed), some violence (mostly punching etherial beings and hitler). story was too piecemeal for even me to easily follow, so definitely not for kids. super heroes, latinx, graphic novels, LGBTQ+ queer/lesbian character, gay moms