How LGBTQ+ People Are Conveyed In Literature

LGBTQ+ people have been around since the dawn of time, but it is only in the modern era that they have begun to be accepted and appreciated for who they are. If you time traveled back to the beginning of the 19th century, which is not that long ago, you would find that literature during that time portrays LGBTQ+ people, specifically targeting homosexuals, as widely unaccepted and disliked people. Often, people working for an employer were forced to hide their identity in fear that they would lose their job due to their employer sharing the popular opinion.

There are still people who do not agree with the equality between LGBTQ+ people and cisgender/heterosexual people, however, it is common in certain places like our very own Seattle that the majority of people either have no opinion or are allies to LGBTQ+ people. Literature in modern times often refrains from conveying these people in such a way that is of no offensive meaning or even positively. 

For instance, a common known novel which has been made into a popular, or as one may even say, “classic” movie, “IT” by Stephen King, has a chapter near the beginning of the story where a homosexual man becomes victim to Pennywise, the main clown antagonist, after he is nearly beaten to death by a group of homophobic bullies. His boyfriend is shown later telling the police officers about the incident, and he is described by the author’s own perspective as “just a queer”. Whether or not the author wrote this as his own opinion or simply to state the character’s view of the man for the sake of the matter is unclear, but it is obvious that either way the man that was killed was viewed as an unequal person to the other heterosexual people. This is an example of how LGBTQ+ people were thought as in the 17, 18, and 1900’s. 

However, a more recent book that I can think of is, “To Night Owl From Dogfish” by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer. This book is about two young girls who start writing emails and letters to each other because their single dads fell in love with each other. It is a beautiful story about family and going against all odds to be together. This book is entirely centered on an LGBTQ+ theme in a positive way. More and more of these books are beginning to pop up in libraries.

Although there are more examples of negative perspectives on LGBTQ+ people than positive in most places, often due to religion or common opinion(Islam, Christianity, etc.), it is crucial to remember that in many of the most ancient and important mythologies, most of the gods are actually LGBTQ+ and known to have no boundaries to their genders or romantic partners. The Norse god of mischief, Loki, was even represented by two snakes entwined, which was a symbol for gender fluidity, and often changed his physical gender. This means that not all ancient or older stories from the past had a negative outlook on LGBTQ+ people, but also, not every book today has a positive outlook either.

Overall, people’s opinions on LGBTQ+ people really come out in literature and others are beginning to accept LGBTQ+ people more. Online book resources like Sora have been highlighting books featuring LGBTQ+ families and characters and in some cases, people are feeling more comfortable coming out of the closet because of how LGBTQ+ people are conveyed in literature, relating to those books in a way that could not happen otherwise.