alex beecroft

Gay Character in Kids Book Causes Kerfuffle

Gay Character in Kids Book Causes Kerfuffle

Just when we see a positive gay character in a kids book, the heavens explode and all the adult content warning labels come out. From what I gather, Better Nate than Ever isn’t a gay book, but there’s minor sub-plot that deals with coming of age and the character is starting to realize he’s attracted to boys and he’s not certain why. (I think any gay man alive can relate to that feeling.)

And then librarians started pulling the book. After that, in a blog post, an amateur book reviewer who is a Christ Follower gave the book a good review, but also put a warning on the book stating that it contains homosexuality in a positive manner…as if that’s grounds alone for a warning label.

This what the blogger said:

  • Throughout the story, Nate slowly realizes that he might be interested in men. You might want to have a conversation with your child about what your family believes about sexuality and specifically about homosexuality.
  • This isn’t all that unfamiliar to me. I know there are web sites that classify anything with LGBT content with warnings about adult content…yes, even if the book doesn’t contain sex scenes and it’s completely g-rated material. Author Alex Beecroft wrote a post about this topic not too long ago in a way that I found interesting and well executed. Just the fact that there’s a gay character in a book makes it adults only, as if kids aren’t gay. Trust me, Mrs. Kids Book reviewer, I knew I was gay when I was three years old and my parents didn’t have to explain it or tell me about it. I got it then, and I get it now. It wasn’t sexual either. Most openly gay adults would agree with me.

    In an odd way, this all reminds me of what happened on Big Brother, the TV series, a few years ago when Jeff Schroeder decided that Dumbledore in Harry Potter couldn’t be gay because it wasn’t appropriate for kids to read. And Schroeder was very passionate about it. I posted about that here. I had to remove Schroeder’s photo for copyright reasons (my own decision), which is why there’s a blank in the post.

    To say this news took Jeff by surprise would be an understatement. Noting at first that Dumbledore “doesn’t have any gay tendencies,” Jeff grew increasingly agitated and irate. “He’s in school with little kids!” he shouted. “You don’t want to make that guy gay!” Asked to expound, Jeff explained, “It isn’t right to have it in a little kid’s book, and have the head master locked away in this magical land, be gay.

    In any event, now the author of Better Nate Than Ever is dealing with this, too. And I thought it would be interesting to let my readers know how some of these people in the mainstream view gays, or anything with a hint of gay content…they view it with adult warning labels.

    But there is a bright note. From Tim Federle’s post:

    Happily, there are many more educators, booksellers, young readers and parents who have been supportive of this book and books like it, books that tell stories that star diverse characters who aren’t just relegated to the sidelines as the sassy sidekick or the tomboy cousin. And some of Better Nate Than Ever’s most noted reviewers celebrated its “inclusive” storyline or didn’t even mention the gay thing at all, which I kind of loved. If anything’s to be picked apart, let it be my exuberant usage of exclamation points and parentheses, not my character’s maybe-he-is-or-maybe-he-isn’t sexuality.

    Alex Beecroft Talks About M/M Books; Monkey Jockeys; Gender Neutral Rest Rooms

    Although the article to which I’m linking where M/M historical romance author Alex Beecroft talks about M/M Books is a few weeks old, I think it’s the kind of post that can stand up to time and remain relevant without a time restriction. It’s an issue we all deal with a one point or another.

    For my LGBT blog readers who don’t know what “M/M” (Male/Male) is…and I know there are a lot of you because I get e-mails all the time about it from gay men…the best way to describe it (fast) is that M/M is a sub-genre in the romance world for books mostly written by straight women about gay men. It’s not exclusive to straight women writers. I’ve written some books that have been classified as M/M. But if you look at blog posts like the one to which I’m linking now where Alex Beecroft talks about M/M you’ll see that the side bar links mostly to women who write M/M and most of the comments left are from women who read or write M/M. Again, this is just a fast definition of M/M.

    From what I gather, this post discusses the way M/M books are classified when they are released and sold on various web sites. Beecroft isn’t fond of being classified in “erotica” when her books aren’t erotic at all.

    Alex: I’m not a big fan of erotica myself. For a start, I’m asexual (but not aromantic) so to me the sex part is pretty uninteresting unless it’s doing something necessary for the plot. In erotica the plot exists to further the sex, so that’s not really for me. I respect erotica as sometimes a beautiful and certainly a highly skilled thing to write. But in general erotica only points up to me how profoundly I’m not like normal people.

    You can read more here.

    Actually, just to be clear, in my erotic romance, the sex exists within the plot to further the romance. In other words, the sex moves the story and the romance forward. I can’t speak for other authors, but that’s how I do it.

    I wish there were better ways to classify books, too. I write a great deal of erotica and I get just as annoyed when I don’t see accurate heat ratings on my books. I do try to give out all the product details here on this blog so readers who vet their purchases know they aren’t getting something they didn’t want. But I found out last year that search engines seem to be the culprits here, and a lot of books are discovered through search engines. It’s a complicated process to get into in-depth in a short blog post like this. And it’s also a good reason why readers need to really vet their books before they make purchases. But then another problem comes into play with what is considered erotica. I’ve read M/M books that are supposed to be erotic and found myself wondering what these authors/publishers think gay erotica is really all about.

    I’ve come to the conclusion there’s no simple fix, but I do think that M/M books with no erotica whatsoever should be classified that way so readers know what they are buying. And authors and publishers might want to think about putting tag lines on covers to let readers know this. I made this abundantly clear when I released Chase of a Dream in two different versions last year. I released the sweet non-erotic version of the book clearly marked as “abridged,” and the version with erotica clearly marked as “unabridged.” I also mentioned this in the book descriptions. Readers can see this wherever these books are sold. I did this for my readers, so my readers would know the difference and I didn’t depend on search engines or retail web sites to make this clear for me. It is perfect? Not at all. I still wish retail web sites where e-books were sold would make it clearer for readers. But at least I feel I did something to rectify the issue in a small scale. As a side note, the non-erotic version of Chase of a Dream is only 7,000 words less than the erotic version, and I’ve only had one customer issue that I know of so far where someone made the wrong purchase on iTunes. When this happened I promptly exchanged the book myself without making it more complicated.

    Monkey Jockeys Riding Dogs

    In a totally unrelated post to Alex Beecroft, I had absolutely no idea this next event was going on anywhere. Monkey’s riding dogs! I guess I’ve been remiss in my carnival posts. But when I saw this mentioned somewhere earlier today I thought I’d post something about it.

    Banana Derby is a “family show” in Greenville, South Carolina that stages races with monkey jockeys riding on dogs. For a fee, you can have them come to your next party or public event.

    You can read more here.

    And this article goes into more detail.

    Lepard had dreamed of working with monkeys ever since reading the “Curious George” books as a kid. The dream was postponed, though, by a career in rodeo, where for years he electrified crowds as both a bullfighter and a clown.

    Gender Neutral Rest Rooms

    I’m feeling so prescient this week I’ve been taking deep breaths to calm down. Last week I posted about a transgender person who was banned from a supermarket for using the “wrong” rest room, and I suggested that I wouldn’t mind seeing unisex rest rooms.

    Frankly, I’ve always wondered why there weren’t unisex bathrooms designed, with completely private stalls where doors can be locked, for everyone. Maybe that sounds a little way out there to some, but I’ve never been too fond of urinals myself, and I rarely ever use them. And maybe men’s rooms wouldn’t look so awful compared to women’s rest rooms.

    And now I hear they are actually talking about doing this, and referring to it as gender neutral…and right here in my own proverbial backyard in Philadelpha.

     PHILADELPHIA—A Philadelphia city council member wants to require new or renovated city-owned buildings to have gender-neutral restrooms in addition to men’s and women’s restrooms.

    You can read more here. 

    It’s nice to see the transgender community getting some recognition for a change. And I wish people would just pay attention to me more often when I say things like this (smile).