LGBT in the UK…

Posted April 15, 2014 by Brin in LGBT Month / 12 Comments

LGBT movies

LGBT Month is hosted by Cayce at Fighting Dreamer and Laura at Laura Plus Books. It runs throughout April and it’s here to celebrate LGBT readers, LGBT authors and of course LGBT books!

LGBT in the UK…

Untitled copy

…Where are all the British LGBT books?

I had an idea for a discussion post for LGBT Month. I thought I would focus on LGBT books set in the UK (being a Brit myself!). One early problem I encountered was that I could find very few LGBT books that were actually set in Britain. Most of the ones I have read myself tend to be set in the US. I thought to myself: ‘surely I should be able to find some examples?’. I did but I was discouraged to find that there was very few, at least compared to what is available stateside.

I did find some amazing looking books (I haven’t read all of them yet but I do intend to try to get to them soonish). Here is what I have discovered so far:

uk lgbt 1

uk lgbt 2

What is slightly worrying for me is WHY there are so few books focussing on LGBT in the UK (at least for YA readers)? Most of the examples shown above have only secondary LGBT characters. I wonder why there is such a lack (or perhaps I have just missed them somehow?!). Could it have something to do with differing attitudes? Are we Brits less accepting and inclusive? I really hope that is not the case.

I found an interesting post on Malinda Lo’s blog here by guest poster Erica Gillingham which raised some really interesting points but I am interested in hearing other views (and if anyone has any other book recommendations for me!).

What are your thoughts?


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12 responses to “LGBT in the UK…

  1. I know right, I wanted to do a post about South African LGBT YA. But I couldn’t find any, really. Then again, we have so few YA authors here to begin with… it’s shocking though. We have some real issues with LGBT tolerance in Africa, and the fact that people tend not to write about these issues beyond racism doesn’t help…

  2. I had a twitter discussion about this very topic about a week ago with other LGBT month participants. Another British blogger was also asking about the lack of LGBT books set in the UK and I recommended the same post from Malinda Lo’s website. I haven’t really found other books either.
    I personally don’t think British are less accepting than Americans, but what do I know? I don’t live in either country, and from where I’m standing all Western countries are much more tolerant than my own. Sad but true. 🙁
    What I do know is that I’m forever on the hunt for British YA books in general (not just LGBT) because all the more hyped titles are always written by American authors. I assume that’s not so much the case for you. If you live in the UK, you probably here about them first hand, and see them in bookstores too.

    • I am not very active on twitter so completely missed that – I would have loved to have taken part in a good old discussion! I am glad I am not the only person who has noticed this – I was pretty amazed when I tried to hunt out LGBT books. It makes sense though as the YA market (for books set in the UK) is nowhere near as prolific as other parts of the world.

      I am not sure if it is that we are less accepting (more of a pondering really!) – maybe it is more that certain negative attitudes are encouraged from a very young age – at least where I am anyway sad to say. 🙁

      British YA books are harder to come across – even when you live here lol. 😉 They do get promoted more in bookstores but not so much on online retailers – you really have to dig about sometimes!!

  3. jellyfishreads

    There really are very few! ): Although actually my first ever LGBT YA was a UK YA book, way back in 2006 or 2007. It was The Shell House by Linda Newbery. I was 12, and I remember thinking it was amazing. It left a deep impression on me. I read Sugar Rush at around the same time, though I don’t remember what I thought of that. I also read Staring Up at the Sun by Suzanne Bugler, which was terribly depressing.

    The things is, I really like light-hearted and fun LGBT stories, but I feel like the UK market doesn’t seem to have as much room for light-hearted and fun stories? UK YA seems to be really gritty and dark a lot of the time. That’s not to say there isn’t the occasional more upbeat novel, but they seem to be more of an exception than they are in America.

    • I have heard of The Shell House – might need to check it out…it does look good.

      I hadn’t heard of Staring Up at the Sun – will need to look it up. Thanks for the rec!

      You’re right – it seems to be the same across most genres but YA in particular seems to favour depressing and hard-hitting themes. I like thought-provoking books but sometimes I do just like a bit of humour! 🙂

  4. You should check out Vivaldi in the Dark by Matthew J. Metzger (I think you’d enjoy that one ~.~)

    I’d also recommend The Dandelion Clock by Jay Mandal (but that one is more adult!) Oh and if you haven’t read it yet, Acclamation series by Vee Hoffman! (that one is adult too!)

    And I think it’s time that I finally read something Cat Clarke.. Great post!

    • I nearly bought Vivaldi in the Dark last week!! It does look amazing. 😉

      I have come across the Acclamation series (not read it yet) but I hadn’t heard of The Dandelion Clock – will definitely seek it out!!

      I haven’t read Cat Clarke yet either (I have got most of her books though!)

  5. A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke has LGBT main characters. So does What’s Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long. I think James Dawson’s books always feature LGBT characters in some way. There’s also a new book coming out this summer by Keris Stainton called Starring Kitty (aimed at a young teen audience) that has a main character dealing with her feelings for another girl. Also, I think Liz Kessler is publishing a book later on this year with (I believe?) a main LGBT character. So while there not be that many books on your list RIGHT NOW at least that’s changing throughout the course of this year.

    • Thanks for the recommendations – I will check them out! 😀

      I am happy to see more and more British LGBT books coming out – it’s good that the landscape is changing and a wider variety is becoming more available. Now if they were only more accessible – you hardly ever find them in libraries!

  6. Jo

    To the one’s already mentioned, I would add Wildthorn by Jane Eagland and The Traitor Game by B. R. Collins (the contemporary side is set here, at least). You might be interested to read this post on my blog from Non Pratt from last year, when she was editor at Catnip Publishing – she gives the publisher’s view of why there are so few LGBTQ YA novels in the UK. It’s interesting!

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