Gay characters remain a minority in television and film, but they have become a sensation in young adult fiction over the past seven years. Teenage readers have gobbled up books with titles like One Man Guy and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Queerness has always existed between the lines in novels about teenagers. Authors like Nancy Garden, Jacqueline Woodson, and Francesca Lia Block all highlighted gay undertones in their young heroes and heroines. In 2003, David Levithan—the author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and now the publisher and editorial director of Scholastic—ushered in a golden age of gay young adult (YA) fiction. His debut novel Boy Meets Boy told the classic boy-meets-girl love story, but with two boys. The book became a cult classic among both queer teens and adults, inspiring a new generation of YA authors.
“It just showed me there was an openness to the YA LGBTQ world that was very flexible and cool,” says gay YA author Jeffrey Self. Novelist Simon Curtis agrees: “[Levithan’s] phenomenal. He’s kind of like the fairy godfather [of gay YA].”