Honoring Their Stories, Too:
Literature for Gay and Lesbian Teens
Michael CartLet me start with an understatement: our society does not make it easy for young people, regardless of their sexual orientation, to find accurate, nonjudgmental, comprehensive information about homosexuality; it makes it even more difficult for young homosexuals to find positive role models in fiction either written and published expressly for them or - if published for adults - relevant to them and to their lives.
We know that in 1990 the Census Bureau found 24.6 million people between the ages of thirteen and nineteen living in America; we don't know how many of those are gay and lesbian, though a 1994 Louis Harris poll pegged the number at two million. Since many kids are either closeted or uncertain of their sexual orientation, no one can know for sure, but, obviously, the number is sizeable - vastly more sizeable than the picayune number of novels with homosexual characters or themes that have been published since 1969, the year that the first book for young readers to deal with this tender topic appeared. It was, of course, John Donovan's taboo-busting I'll Get There; It Better Be Worth the Trip, published by Harper & Row. Since then less than seventy-five others have appeared.
If you believe, as I do, that literature has the power to save lives, perhaps you will agree that seventysomething is a shamefully small number - or perhaps I should say "tragically" small number of titles - when you consider that 30 percent of the teenagers who commit suicide do so because of fear, confusion, anxiety or even persecution resulting from their being - or suspecting that they might be - homosexual. This is not just my opinion. Paul Gibson, writing in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services's Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, declared:the root of the problem of gay youth suicide is a society that discriminates and stigmatizes homosextuals while failing to recognize that a substantial number of its youth has a gay or lesbian orientation. ( p. 110 )
Why do we read? T.S. Eliot offered three reasons: the pleasure of entertainment, the enjoyment of art, and the acquisition of wisdom.
To those three I would add two more that are, I believe, essential components of viable fiction for young adults - especially homosexual young adults. One is the shock of recognition, the sudden, amazing realization that one is not alone, that there are others like me out there. The second is, simply, hope for acceptance, for happiness and, as the eponymous protagonist of Australian writer Kate Walker's splendid novel Peter hopes, for being loved and cared about "like everyone else."
Kids who - like Peter - are still uncertain about their sexual orientation and desperate to discover who they are and what it means to be homosexual have far too few "safe" places to look for answers. One such place should be books. Sasha Alyson, founder of Alyson Publications, which specializes in gay and lesbian fiction and non- fiction, affirmed this notion when, in 1993, he told the New England Association of Independent School Librarians that librarians (and teachers, I would hasten to add) are in a unique position to help lesbian and gay teenagers. Reading a book is safer for a gay teenager than talking to a person, Alyson explained, because there's no risk of rejection from a book.
Ironically Alyson has the dubious distinction of being the publisher of two of the most frequently rejected books of the 1990s: Daddy's Roommate and Heather Has Two Mommies, both of which, as I'm sure you know, feature children living with homosexual, same-sex parents. Francesca Lia Block has dealt movingly with this same situation in "Dragons in Manhattan," one of the stories in her most recent work of fiction for young adults, Girl Goddess # 9, while Chris Crutcher has brought rueful good humor to his treatment of the topic in "A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune," which appears in his collection of stories titled Athletic Shorts.
Censorship aside, the sad fact is that, not only are there simply too few books that give real faces to gay and lesbian kids, but too many of those that have been published over the last quarter century may inadvertently perpetuate stereotypes. It may, for example, come as a shock to you to learn that not all gay men are antique dealers, though books for young readers ranging from the picture book Losing Uncle Tim to Bette Greene's young adult novel The Drowning of Stephan Jones would seem to suggest that they are.
Rachel Pollack and Cheryl Schwartz, in their fine non-fiction book The Journey Out, devote a chapter to myths and stereotypes and how to fight them. They also provide a list of selected stereotypes, including the following:
"All lesbians play softball," "All gay men hate sports," "All lesbians have cats,"
"All gay men have small dogs" and - my personal favorite - "All homosexuals get along with each other - and they're all Democrats." ( p. 68 )
It's easy to laugh at such stupidities, but the fact is that many people accept them as the truth about all homosexuals. Sadly, many such stereotypes and, worse, stereotypical attitudes, misperceptions, and misinformation have been perpetuated by many of the precious few gay and lesbian books for young readers that have been published. There is no evil intent here - just the simple fact that books are social artifacts and, as such, reflect - sometimes unconsciously - the social attitudes prevailing at the time in which they were written and published.
I'll Get There; It Better Be Worth the Trip, for example, may have been published the same year as the Stonewall riots and the birth of the gay liberation movement; but there is too little else that, by today's standards, is liberated about it. Consider, for example, that Davy, the thirteen-year-old protagonist and his friend, Altschuler, kiss each other and, several days later, when Altschuler spends the night at Davy's apartment, the two boys do something together that Davy can only bring himself to call "it."
"That's how 'it' happened," he tells the reader the morning after (p. 152). Subsequently Davy's beloved dog Fred is run over by a car and inevitably the boy - and the empathetic reader - infer that this is a cause-and-effect punishment for doing the now obviously awful "it."
At the end of the book the boys talk about this "queer" business - as they call it - and agree "the important thing is not to do it again" and, further, that "if we made out with some girls, we wouldn't have to think about, you know, the other..." (p. 188). Talk about the love that dares not speak its name!
These lines are quoted out of context, of course, but even in context it seems to me that they convey guilt and shame and the unrealistic expectation that all one has to do is "it" with a member of the opposite sex and, voila! one will be healed, whole, and heterosexual. A reader would draw the same conclusion from the first lesbian novel for young adults: Rosa Guy's Ruby, for despite Ruby's passionate devotion to her friend Daphne and despite the fact that their friendship becomes a "love affair" (p. 172) and finds physical expression in "lovemaking" (p. 124), when Daphne capriciously decides to end the affair, Ruby is clearly prepared simply to forget her lesbian rite-of-passage and turn to an old boy friend, Orlando, as a prospective new lover. And when we next encounter her in Edith Jackson, the third novel in Guy's trilogy, there is no suggestion that Ruby is anything but the vivacious, popular, heterosexual girl we had first met in The Friends, the book that precedes Ruby.
The curiously recurring idea that homosexuality is nothing but a matter of choice was reflected not only in early homosexual novels but also in the so slender as to be anorexic body of criticism that began to appear in the seventies. Consider this well intentioned but, I think, oddly misinformed article that appeared in the March, 1976, issue of Wilson Library Bulletin. Titled "Can Young Gays Find Happiness in YA Books?" it (quite rightly) notes that a prevailing theme of these books is that being gay has no lasting significance, that it is a phase to be outgrown. The authors, Frances Hanckel and John Cunningham, go on to say, "This may be fine reassurance for insecure straight youths, but it cheats the ones who want to be gay by presenting such experiences as 'phases' instead of the first step toward a valid choice" ( p. 533 ). Coincidentally, that same year the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association's Social Responsibilities Roundtable drew up guidelines for the evaluation of gay and lesbian literature. Called "What To Do Until Utopia Arrives," these guidelines contained language consistent with Hanckel and Cunningham's: "Librarians should be aware of the need for portrayals of growth and development of gay identity as a valid life choice."
But who in their right minds would want to choose the kind of life depicted in the first decade of homosexual fiction?
Consider that in each of the first four gay-themed books - I'll Get There; Isabelle Holland's The Man Without a Face; Trying Hard To Hear You by Sandra Scoppettone; and Lynn Hall's Sticks and Stones - either the gay character or someone (or something in the case of poor Fred) close to the gay character dies, usually in a car crash. It is obvious that early gay literature featured the worst drivers this side of my grandmother.
Nine years after the publication of Trying Hard To Hear You, Scoppettone commented on this:
The ending, in which one of the homosexual boys dies, was misconstrued by many people. Perhaps this was my fault; I should have made the reason for this clearer. My intention was to show that he died trying to be something (heterosextual) he wasn't and not because he was a homosextual. ( p. 391 )
If you've read the novel, you may remember the boy in question has asked a girl out on a date. Be that as it may, the boy does die - and violently. But gay characters in young adult literature are still dying - violently - these twenty and more years later, most recently in Bette Greene's rather shrill novel, The Drowning of Stephan Jones ( 1991 ), although the cause of death here - gay bashing - is at least more au courant.
Unfortunately when a book features gay characters who not only do not die but live on, nourished and supported by a loving relationship, the author may be the one who gets "punished" by having her/his work castigated and censored. The most recent case in point is Nancy Garden, author of Annie on My Mind, a landmark lesbian novel published in 1982, landmark because of its bold suggestion that to be homosexual is not to be doomed to death or a life of desperate solitude. Garden had the courage to insure that not only do her protagonist, Annie, and her lover, Liza, survive; but their love for each other does, as well.
This has excited endless controversy, the latest beginning in 1993 when a copy of the book was burned by religious fundamentalists in front of the Kansas City (MO) school district headquarters. Three months later all copies of the book were removed from the shelves of the nearby Olathe, Kansas, school libraries. As a result, a group of seven brave students and their parents sued the School Board for restoration of the book, charging that their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments had been violated. After a long trial, U.S. District Judge Thomas Van Bebber found in their favor, ruling on November 30, 1995, that the School Board action had been "viewpoint discrimination." In other words, books cannot be removed simply because school officials disagree with certain ideas they contain.
Perhaps because the matter of homosexuality had so long been considered taboo or perhaps because its first decade of literary life, the 1970s, coincided with the rise of the problem novel, most early homosexual fiction focused more on the problem than on the fiction. A happy exception is Hey, Dollface by Esther Hautzig. Published in 1978, four years before Annie on My Mind, it is a lively, character-driven story of the awakening love between Val and Chloe. It was not until 1982, however, that a gay-themed novel distinguished in literary terms, appeared: that was British novelist and critic Aidan Chambers' Dance on My Grave. Distinguished by its original (occasionally experimental) structure, its artful development of theme, and its vividly memorable characters, it is, nevertheless, flawed - at least to some degree - by the still seemingly obligatory death of its gay - and highly charismatic - protagonist.
And then there's Artie, a supporting character in Judy Blume's 1975 novel Forever, which will be read and remembered forever as the first YA novel to present explicit (heterosexual) sex scenes between a girl named Katherine and a boy with a penis he's named "Ralph." Bless Judy Blume for her courage; but, still, there is the matter of poor Artie, a brilliant teenage actor but a failure when he tries to have sex with his girlfriend, Erica. Finally, a frustrated Erica tells her friend Katherine,
"When he took me home from the party and kissed me good-night on the cheek, I came right out and asked him, 'Artie, are you queer?'
"What'd he say?" Katherine asks.
"He said, 'I don't know, but I'm trying to find out." ( p. 64 )
Erica decides it is incumbent on her to help him find out and, when Artie continues to fail, to hang himself. He fails at this, too, and his parents have him institutionalized. Which reminds us, of course, that until 1973, only two years before Forever was published, the American Psychiatric Association continued to list homosexuality in its official Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders.
More significantly, though, the inclusion of a gay secondary character in Forever anticipated a sea change that would visit gay and lesbian literature in the decade of the eighties. Prior to that time, the homosexual was usually the (troubled) protagonist or the question of his or her sexual orientation was the central theme of the book. However, beginning in the eighties, the gay/lesbian character often became secondary (like Jerry in Robert Lipsyte's 1981 novel, Summer Rules, for example) - the character becomes a friend of, neighbor of, teacher of, or relative of the heterosexual main character.
In two memorable cases they are adult relatives of and give us two of the best, least stereotypical and - praise God! - funniest books in the literature: Ron Koertge's 1988 title, The Arizona Kid, and A.M. Homes's 1989 novel, Jack. In the former, the gay character is sixteen-year-old Billy's Uncle Wes, the best role model, gay or straight, a boy could have. In the latter, the gay character is Jack's father who takes his son for an unforgettable boat ride.
"As soon as we were out there in the middle of nothing," Jack tells us, "he started getting the look fathers get when they're about to say something they know is gonna make you lose your lunch. I wanted to get up, to run, buyt thanks to my dad we were in the middle of a goddamned lake." ( p. 18 )
Of course, this is when Jack's father admits he's gay. Sometimes the father doesn't come out to his son, though; sometimes the son discovers it and comes gracefully to terms with it only later - such a novel is George Shannon's Unlived Affections, a book that is not only emotionally satisfying but engaging in its literary structure and use of family letters as a device for revelation. A fourth novel in which the homosexual character is a relative is M. E. Kerr's Deliver Us from Evie. In this case, Evie, a lesbian, is the older sister of the protagonist, a fifteen-year old farm boy named Parr. Evie's sexual identity is a major theme of the book but not the only one - the precarious plight of the family-owned farm in an age of agribusiness is also artfully addressed and skillfully integrated into the plot. What truly distinguishes this novel, however, is how Kerr handles a consideration we discussed earlier: sexual stereotyping. M.E. Kerr writes about the evolution of her own attitudes toward this issue in her foreword to Roger Sutton's book Hearing Us Out: Voices from the Gay and Lesbian Community:
In our East End Gay Organization group, we talked about how, early into our own self-acceptance, we could not yet tolerate those among us who "looked it." I remember one of the first appearances of male and female homosextuals on an afternoon TV talk show in the 70s. We sat waiting for it to begin, holding our breath and hoping the men wouldn't be too nance, the women too butch. It took a while to to grasp the mening of gay pride, and that it did not mean looking and acting as straight as possible." ( p. ix )
And so Evie drives a tractor - and she can repair it, too. Here's how her brother Parr describes her:
When Evie appeared she was in jeans, boots, and a heavy sweatshirt that said Get High on Milk! Our Cows Are on Grass! She wore her hair very short, with a streak of light blond she'd made with peroxide. That was as close as she'd ever come to make-up. You could see the blue of her eyes all the way across the room. I thought she looked a little like Elvis Presley. ( pp. 5-6 )
Or another singer - k. d. lang, perhaps. The point is that beneath the look there is a fully developed, multi-dimensional human being who may choose to look the way she wants and is not doomed to die - perhaps in a tragic tractor accident - because of it. As Hazel Rochman observes in her enthusiastic Booklist review:
We've come a long way from the stories of homosexual love that end in disaster. Evie has to leave home and she misses the farm; but then she and Patty get an apartment in New York City. Patty drives a fancy car. And it doewsn't crash. ( p. 125 )
All four of these homosexual lives - Evie's, Uncle Wes's, and the two fathers I've mentioned - are observed at a remove by a straight character. Would these be stronger works of homosexual fiction if there were less narrative distance, if these four characters told their own stories in their own first person voices? Perhaps. But we need to remember that not only do gay and lesbian kids need to see themselves reflected in the pages of books but so also do straight kids need to meet and get to know authentic gay and lesbian people in the pages of books. And sometimes a certain narrative distance may be necessary to make that possible.
If there is a trend in the nineties, it may be the growing body of nonfiction books for young adults in which teen-agers tell their own real-life stories. Books like Roger Sutton's Hearing Us Out: Voices from the Gay and Lesbian Community; Kurt Chandler's Passages of Pride; Linnea Due's Joining the Tribe: Growing up Gay and Lesbian in the '90s; Two Teenagers in Twenty edited by Ann Heron; and Being Different: Lambda Youths Speak Out by Larry Dane Brimner.
Other recent nonfiction books that include the authentic voices of gay and lesbian kids - along with useful, even vital, information about being gay, lesbian and bisexual - include The Journey Out (already mentioned), Free Your Mind by Ellen Bass and Kate Kaufman, and The World Out There by Michael Thomas Ford. And lest we forget that adults have voices, too, and are still victimized by prejudice and stereotypes, let me mention another book: The Last Closet: The Real Lives of Lesbian and Gay Teachers by Rita M. Kissen.
That the experience of being homosexual is international, if not universal, is clearly evidenced in the work of Aidan Chambers, whom I've already mentioned, and that of his countryman David Rees, who began writing gay novels in the late seventies and who like Chambers, is also a distinguished critic of books for young readers. More recently we have Damned Strong Love by Lutz Van Dijk, a novel based on the true story of a Polish boy named Stefan who, during the Second World War fell in love with a Nazi soldier named Willi. In a letter appended to the novel, the real Stefan writes, "Beyond my own personal case, I believe that people in all the countries of this world must grasp that it is always a crime to punish love and to tolerate violence" ( p. 134 ).
Love and violence figure, as well, in Kate Walker's contemporary novel, which I've already mentioned, Peter.
When we first meet fifteen-year-old Peter Dawson, his ambitions are simple: finish school, get a road license for his dirt bike, and find a job with cameras. But then he meets his older brother's friend, David, an engineering student at a local college, and suddenly nothing is simple any longer. For David is gay, and Peter gradually realizes that his strong attraction to the older boy means that he, too, might be gay. Set in Australia, Peter is a powerful and memorably universal novel of an adolescent's struggle to discover his sexual identity. In Australia, as everywhere, it's an agonizing process. Wondering at one point if he is, indeed, gay (or a "poof" as his friends contemptuously put it), Peter despairingly thinks, "I don't want to be a poofter joke, a social outcast, a candidate for AIDS" ( p. 144 ).
It's no surprise that this is what being gay initially means to him, since the society he inhabits has defined sexuality only in terms of ignorant and mean-spirited stereotypes of both gay and straight behavior. If being gay is to be a "poof" and social outcast, being straight - and socially acceptable - means having repeatedly to prove your manhood by performing empty-headed and dangerous feats of derring-do on your dirt bike and by having urgent, impersonal sex with girls you scarcely know and certainly don't care about. Otherwise you're automatically labelled a "poof," and your name and alleged availability are spray-painted on bus shelters by other kids who are themselves frightened and vulnerable. "You could die of this," Peter thinks despairingly ( p. 144 ).
Fortunately for him he finds, in David, a gay man who is not a stereotype but a warm, caring human being: "David wasn't a creep," Peter thinks wonderingly, "he was nice. Ordinary" ( p. 42 ).
Peter also discovers that sexual identity is more than the simple sexual act (David gently rebuffs his awkward advances): it's one of the most complexly ambiguous aspects of being human. Indeed, at the book's end, Peter is still uncertain about his own sexuality; but, at David's suggestion, he is prepared to give himself more time to make his own discoveries. The reader understands that, whether Peter ultimately finds himself to be gay or straight, he will be - like his role model, David - nice and "ordinary" on his own terms. And, most importantly, he'll be loved and cared about "like everyone else." In this first novel Kate Walker has created a rich work of fiction filled with incidents that illuminate the difficult and sometimes ambiguous choices of her sympathetic, multi- dimensional characters. Not every troubled teenager will be fortunate enough to meet an understanding older friend like David; but, with luck and help from caring adult professionals, many of them will be introduced to wise and compassionate novels like this and, through reading them, will find self-understanding and self-respect.
The gay and lesbian novel for young adults has come a long way since 1969. But it has a long way to go. Looking retrospectively at the literature, one is struck, for example, by the fact that almost all the faces represented in it are white. With the notable exception of such novels as The Dear One and From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun, both by Jacqueline Woodson, there are almost no homosexuals of color represented. It's good news, then, that Jess Mowrey's newest novel, Babylon Boyz, published in April, 1997, features a gay black teenager named Pook, who - along with the other members of his posse - struggles to realize the dream of escaping their soul-destroying life in the inner city.
Happily, the consideration of gender, on the other hand, has become more balanced. While it is true that in the first decade almost all homosexual characters were male, more and more lesbian characters are appearing. Stacey Donovan's Dive, published in 1994, is a lesbian coming of age novel (and, yes, Stacey Donovan is the niece of the late John Donovan, who started it all with I'll Get ThereÉ). Nancy Garden has just published a new lesbian love story, Good Moon Rising. In spring 1997, Irish novelist Emma Donoghue's Kissing the Witch, a collection of richly reimagined fairy tales re-told with a lesbian slant, was published; and Marion Dane Bauer's celebrated 1994 anthology Am I Blue? Coming out from the Silence offers a wonderful balance of gender, theme, and stories by both homosexual and straight authors.
It is probably true, as Marion writes in her Introduction, that "ten years ago an anthology of short stories dealing with gay and lesbian themes probably would not have been considered by any major young adult publisher" ( p. ix ).
And I share her dream that "ten years from now such an anthology will not be needed, that gay and lesbian characters will be as integrated into juvenile literature as they are in life."
In the work of one exemplary author, Francesca Lia Block, that has already happened, if "integrated into juvenile literature" means including the presence of gay characters who, though not always center stage (with the exception of Francesca's latest novel Baby Be-bop) are an accepted part of daily life, even of one's nontraditional, extended family as in the case of the lovers Dirk and Duck in Weetzie Bat and Witch Baby (Dirk is the protagonist of Baby Be-bop, a kind of prequel to Weetzie Bat) or as in the case of the elderly life partners Mallard and Meadows in Missing Angel Juan. Francesca's great gift to every reader - not only young adults - is to remind them that homosexuality is not just about sexual preference or orientation; it is not just about coming out or staying in the closet; it is not just about social opprobrium or acceptance; in the final analysis it is about love and friendship. And I hope you'll remember that.
Though Francesca's work has been described as punk fairy tale, it is firmly grounded in realism - though magic often visits that realism - and it acknowledges that, for the last fifteen years, since AIDS emerged like a demon from the darkness, love can also kill. And, sadly, I cannot talk about homosexual literature without mentioning AIDS, even though it is not an exclusively gay disease. Yes, in the early years of the plague, some 75 percent of those infected were gay men, but the balance has shifted in recent years. What is particularly alarming, given the long gestation period of the disease, is that half of the now more than 6.5 million people worldwide who have been infected since 1981 contracted the disease between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four. Since December, 1994, AIDS has become the leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 25 and 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been a number of good nonfiction books about AIDS - books like Michael Thomas Ford's The Voices of AIDS, which combines factual information about the disease with the voices of twelve individuals talking about how the disease has changed their lives. As for fiction, however, it's a different story. Through 1994 no more than a dozen young adult novels had been published that dealt thematically with AIDS. Indeed, it wasn't until 1986 that the first novel appeared; not only was it the first, it's still one of the best. It is, of course, Night Kites by M.E. Kerr. Another beautifully written and deeply felt novel that I recommend is Earthshine by Theresa Nelson, whose love for her characters also shines from every page.
If there is a shortage of books about AIDS, there continues to be more than a shortage - almost a vacuum - of critical and evaluative work about homosexual literature for young readers. There is one monographic work, Allan Cuseo's Homosexual Characters in YA Novels, a Literary Analysis; however, its coverage stops with the year 1982. There is also an annotated bibliography, originally published in Australia, called Out of the Closet and Into the Classroom by Laurel A. Clyde and Marjorie Lobban; there is one exemplary journal article by Christine A. Jenkins; titled "Young Adult Novels with Gay/Lesbian Characters and Themes 1969-1992," which appeared in the Fall, 1993, issue of The Journal of Youth Services in Libraries; and there is Nancy St. Clair's article "Outside Looking In; Representations of Gay and Lesbian Experiences in the Young Adult Novel," published in the Fall, 1995, issue of The ALAN Review. There are fragmentary other bits, pieces, and oddments scattered about but nothing that I have been able to find that offers a comprehensive, critical evaluation of the entire body of literature to date in context.
We urgently need more serious attention given to books for and about gay and lesbian and - yes - bisexual young people. We need more good novels that give faces to gay and lesbian young people; we need more good novels that offer them the shock of recognition, the knowledge that they are not alone; more good novels that also inform the minds and hearts of non-homosexual readers, that offer them opportunities for insight and empathy by shattering stereotypes and humanizing their gay and lesbian peers. Not to have such books is an invitation to ignorance, which leads to fear, which leads to demonizing instead of humanizing, which leads to violence against not only the body but the spirit. If I leave you with only one thought, let it be what Nancy Garden wrote fourteen years again in Annie on My Mind: "Don't let ignorance win; let love win" ( p. 232 ).
Bass, Ellen. and Kate Kaufman. Free Your Mind. HarperPerennial,1996.
Bauer, Marion Dane, ed. Am I Blue? Coming Out from the Silence. HarperCollins, 1995.
Block, Francesca Lia. Baby Be-bop. HarperCollins, 1995.
_____. Girl Goddess #9. HarperCollins, 1996.
_____. Missing Angel Juan. HarperCollins, 1993.
_____. Weetzie Bat. Harper & Row, 1989.
_____. Witch Baby. HarperCollins, 1991.
Blume, Judy. Forever. Bradbury, 1975.
Brimner, Larry Dane. Being Different: Lambda Youths Speak Out. Franklin Watts, 1995.
Chambers, Aidan. Dance on My Grave. Harper & Row, 1982.
Chandler, Kurt. Passages of Pride: Lesbian and Gay Youth Come of Age. Times Books, 1995.
Crutcher, Chris. Athletic Shorts. Greenwillow, 1991.
Cuseo, Allan. Homosexual Characters in Young Adult Novels, a Literary Analysis, 1969-1982. The Scarecrow Press, 1992.
Dijk, Lutz van. Damned Strong Love. Henry Holt, 1995.
Donoghue, Emma. Kissing the Witch. HarperCollins, 1997.
Donovan, John. I'll Get There; It Better Be Worth the Trip. Harper & Row, 1969.
Donovan, Stacey. Dive. Dutton, 1994.
Due, Linnea. Joining the Tribe . Growing up Gay and Lesbian in the '90s. Anchor Books, 1995.
Ford, Michael Thomas. The World Out There: Becoming Part of the Lesbian and Gay Community. The New Press, 1996.
_____. The Voices of AIDS. Morrow, 1995.
Garden, Nancy. Annie on My Mind. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1982.
_____. Good Moon Rising. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996.
Gibson, Paul. "Gay Male and Lesbian Youth Suicide," Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1989.
Greene, Bette. The Drowning of Stephan Jones. Bantam Books, 1991.
Guy, Rosa. Edith Jackson. Viking, 1978.
_____. Friends. Viking, 1973.
_____. Ruby. Viking, 1976.
Hall, Lynn. Sticks and Stones. Follett, 1972.
Hanckel, Frances, and John Cunningham. "Can Young Gays Find Happiness in YA Books?" Wilson Library Bulletin. March, 1976, pp. 528-534.
Hautzig, Deborah. Hey, Dollface. Greenwillow, 1978.
Heron, Ann, ed. Two Teenagers in Twenty: Writings by Gay and Lesbian Youth. Alyson Publications, 1994.
Holland, Isabelle. The Man Without a Face. J.B. Lippincott, 1972.
Homes, A. M. Jack. Macmillan, 1989.
Jenkins, Christine A. "Young Adult Novels with Gay/Lesbian Characters and Themes 1969-1992." Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, Fall 1993, pp. 43-53.
Jordan, MaryKate. Losing Uncle Tim. Albert Whitman, 1989.
Kerr, M. E. Deliver Us from Evie. HarperCollins, 1994.
_____. Night Kites. Harper & Row, 1986.
Kissen, Rita M. The Last Closet: The Real Lives of Lesbian and Gay Teachers. Heinemann, 1996.
Koertge, Ron. The Arizona Kid. Little, Brown, 1988.
Lipsyte, Robert. Summer Rules. Harper & Row, 1981.
Lobbon, Marjorie and Laurel Clyde. Out of the Closet and Into the Classroom. Thorpe/Bowker, n.d.
Mowry, Jess. Babylon Boyz. Simon & Schuster, 1997.
Nelson, Theresa. Earthshine. Orchard Books, 1994.
Newman, Leslea. Heather Has Two Mommies. Alyson Wonderland, 1989.
Pollack, Rachel and Cheryl Schwartz. The Journey Out: A Guide for and about Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Teens. Puffin Books, 1995.
Rochman, Hazel . "Review of Deliver Us from Evie," Booklist. September 15, 1994, p. 125.
St. Clair, Nancy . "Outside Looking In: Representations of Gay and Lesbian Experiences in the Young Adult Novel." The ALAN Review, Fall, 1995, pp. 3843.
Scoppettone, Sandra . Trying Hard To Hear You. Harper & Row, 1974.
Shannon, George . Unlived Affections. Harper & Row, 1990.
Singer, Bennett L., ed. Growing Up Gay/Growing Up Lesbian. New Press, 1994.
Sutton, Roger. Hearing Us Out: Voices from the Gay and Lesbian Community. Little, Brown, 1994.
Walker, Kate. Peter . Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
Willhoite, Michael . Daddy's Roommate. Alyson Wonderland, 1990.
Woodson, Jacqueline . The Dear One. Delacorte Press, 1991.
_____. From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun. The Blue Sky Press, 1995.
Michael Cart is the President of the Young Adult Library Division of the American Library Association and the author of From Romance to Realism: 50 Years of Growth and Change in Young Adult Literature and My Father's Scar. He delivered this article as a talk to a session at the 1996 NCTE Fall Conference.