Recently, I bought the book The Marvels by Brian Selznick. When I started looking through reviews, I discovered that there was a major gay character featured in this book. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure if the fact that this book has a gay character in it is a spoiler or not, but I also don't know how to warn you since you can read the title of this post. So sorry about that.
Almost all of the negative reviews about this book are about the fact that the synopsis doesn't disclose the fact that the topic of homosexuality is discussed. My gut reaction was these homophobic people make me want to punch things, but I quickly realized that all of these reviews said something pretty similar. But first, let's see if you can figure it out (these are all taken from Goodreads by the way):
Did you figure it out? It's that the topic of homosexuality is inappropriate for children. (Gay children don't exist, obviously.) Now, I'm probably a little biased when it comes to this topic, so I wanted to ask you non-gays what you think of gay characters in children's books.
This is probably a good time to point out that The Marvels isn't actually a children's book. It's middle grade, and almost always recommended for 12 and up. I actually think that's a pretty good age considering this book also talks about AIDs (a little more serious than love in my opinion), and I hear there's a bit of death, but here's the thing: these reviewers (as a whole) are complaining about the homosexuality element of the story, not the other parts. So not only can they not read the recommended age, they also don't realize that there are worse things than gay people.
Anyway, let's go to the question: should there be gay characters in children's books? Your opinion is yours to decide, but let me give you some arguments for and against the inclusion of gay characters in children's books:
- Being gay is something that's introduced as normal, therefore avoiding more future homophobic assholes also known as bullies of my gays.
- Gay children will realize that they're not crazy, and they won't spend years of there life being confused and/or hating/killing themselves and contributing to the staggering suicide rate among LGBT youth.
- Gay children will look towards more books that feature people they identify (because they realize that books with LGBT characters exist) with rather than being annoyed by straight romances all the time (me), thus they will become readers. What kind of parent is against that? (Ones that want to keep there money in the bank and not in a bookstore, I suppose.)
Cons (according to the aforementioned homophobic assholes):
- Parents will have to explain what being gay is to their innocent cishet children (supposedly).
Obvious Counterargument: You don't have to explain what being gay is if you introduce them to the idea from the get-go. How about you stop showing them old Disney movies about princes saving princesses from evil queens and start reading them more books what reality's like? I mean, I don't have a source for this, but I'm pretty sure babies don't come out of the womb screaming "kill the homosexuals!" No. Homophobic behavior is learned just like racism or sexism. If you just treat it as normal, they'll know that it is.
- It scares the Goodreads user, Russ Bruxvoort.
Obvious Counterargument: And people say arachnophobia is an irrational fear... Dude. You have a problem. It's just love.
- Homosexuality is sexual content that is inappropriate and shouldn't be allowed in books for children!
Obvious Counterargument: Really? This is one of my main problems with these people. They think that the presence of a gay couple is somehow equal to graphic anal sex. Either these people have never gotten passed first base (how did these people have children), or they actually think gay relationships are all about sex. Being a gay person myself, I wish people would realize how fucked up that is. My sexuality isn't just about sex. It's about love. I enjoy having crushes and falling in love with people of my same gender (actually most genders if we want to get technical here). That's something that I've been doing for my entire life. It's not sexual (always...), and it's not something I chose. (Why would I want to when there's so many people like them in the world?) Gay love, like any other kind of love, is innocent. Are you really trying to teach children that love is inappropriate? Because that's what it sounds like. There's a chance the child you're teaching this to is gay, and guess what? If you continue to push this kind of harmful message on children, you're going to end up with a miserable child. Parents like you are the reason almost half of all gay teens have attempted suicide. I hope you're proud of that.
- The synopsis should make the topics of the book obvious so that the parents can make the decision about whether or not they want their child reading this book.
Obviously Counterargument: And what? Make sure that all the hateful homophobic parents raise hateful homophobic kids? The earlier these topics are brought up the better. Children need to be introduced to the idea that not every experience is like their own, whether that be based on sexuality, gender, race, religion, etc. Parents need to STOP KEEPING THEIR KIDS IN A BOX (and for some, in a box pushed into the back of a closet). I spent so much of my life being completely unaware of the diverse world around me, and that's not okay. Children being shielded from the world around them is what ends up making kids become bullies. They pick on the kids who are part of an unfamiliar community. Children need to know that there are people and communities that are different from their own. How else will they ever be compatible with other humans? If anything, parents should be thrilled at the happy surprise! Seriously though..It's not like they have to tell you there's a straight romance!
- It pushes the homosexual agenda.
Obvious Counterargument: Honestly, I don't have a counterargument for this. It's true, I do have an agenda. What can I say? I just can't remember anything otherwise. I would forget so much homework if it weren't for my agenda. For those of you wondering, I prefer this agenda for all my gay agending.
Well, that's my opinion. Please feel free to leave yours down in the comments.