Celebrate National Coming Out Day with Queer YA Lit


Last week, we celebrated Banned Books Week, seven days of promoting challenged books and speaking out against censorship. As I read list after list of banned books and the reasons that people want to remove these texts from libraries, I noticed the repeated suppression of queer narratives. Today we honor National Coming Out Day, a day of support and awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. Readers must push back against the challenges that aim to eradicate queer literature by reading, discussing, and sharing narratives that feature LGBTQ+ characters. 

The most well-known YA books featuring queer characters are contemporary fiction stories where the queerness of the central character contributes to the conflict. For example, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was a smash-hit YA romance where the titular character reckons with his sexuality and how to express himself honestly to his friends, family, and crush. While realistic stories are invaluable for spreading empathy and awareness, LGBTQ+ literature does not have to be tied to trauma, insecurity, and turmoil. Queer representation should be found in every genre, from historical fiction to high fantasy.

The first book I ever read featuring an out queer character was The Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. Nico di Angelo was first introduced in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse but tended to hover in the darkness as a side character until the Heroes of Olympus series. As a fantasy lover, I continue to seek out magical stories containing queer characters. What I love about queer fantasy is how queerness is treated as just one facet of the character’s identity. Fantasy conflicts rarely revolve around the sexuality or gender identity of the character, unlike many contemporary LGBTQ+ books. Queer characters can exist safely and unapologetically, usually more concerned with fighting physical monsters than mental ones. Instead of perpetuating a monolith of queerness and limiting queer narratives to identity crises, fantasy books featuring LGBTQ+ characters show that exciting adventures exist for everyone. Queer people deserve escapism too! 

We all want to see representations of ourselves in the texts we read. Literature functions as both a mirror and a window, allowing us to find characters we relate to while also exploring unfamiliar experiences. I especially appreciate the authentic representation found in #OwnVoices literature, where authors create characters that share aspects of their identity. Queer YA books helped me embrace my own sexuality and deepened my understanding of gender presentation. In honor of National Coming Out Day, head to your local library or bookstore and explore their selection of YA books featuring queer characters! 

For some titles Pine Reads Review loved, check out the following blogs:

Queer Books That Impacted Us

18 Kidlit Books by Trans, Nonbinary, & Genderqueer Authors

10 Sapphic YA Novels to Add to Your TBR List

10 More Sapphic YA Novels to Add to Your TBR List

A Closer Look at Bisexual Representation in YA Fiction

How I Fell In Love With Queer Historical Fiction (And Why You Should Too)

Ashley Amacher, Pine Reads Review Assistant Director, Lead Editor, & Writer