A Hidden Light: Surplus LGBTQ+ Characters in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
This panel will bring together scholars interested in the intersection of gender studies and young adult literature, investigating this surplus of surplus characters as authors scramble to include LGBTQ+ perspectives in their work. What is the effect of this surplus nature on the reader, whether queer or not, and how can writers avoid this cursory diversity in their own writing. The counter-example is the authors that manage to successfully write queer characters in contemporary Young Adult Fiction. How do these two sides of the coin impact a reader as they see queer characters presented as supplemental versus central? If we are supposed to view literature as both a window and a mirror, it is unfair to young and experienced readers alike to see LGBTQ+ characters portrayed as a small speck of stained glass in an otherwise large window or one single shard of an otherwise full mirror. As we continue to read and write in this vein, how can we transform these surplus characters into full-fledged people who can walk through the sliding glass door of literature and lead others through it as well. As queerness is an identity that fluctuates for many people and may be realized at a young age or later in life, how can these specks of hidden light show us the way?