Where are the gay and lesbian characters in books?

I read, because I enjoy it, but as I move from page to page and book to book, a small part of me hopes to find characters like me: a gay man, living a pretty normal life. I actually look for more than this. I look for characters who are lesbian, transgender, disabled, Aboriginal and more, because I believe in equality, tolerance and acceptance. I expect books to be representative of our society and times.

I don’t expect the GLBT person to be the main character, I just hope they will get some visibility. I’ve read 18 books so far this year and of these I’ve found gay characters in only four of these books.

The Green Road. One of the four children is gay and his character development is pivotal to the story. Enright does it well.

Notes from and Exhibition. Again one of the four children is gay and his character is believable and complex. His partner also plays a part in the story. Gale does it very well.

The Dry. I loved this book, and Harper does include a couple of gay characters, but the secrecy of their relationship forces them into creating false alibis. Harper has nailed it. Gay men who are not ‘out’ frequently lie to hide their sexual orientation.

The Sense of an Elephant included a gay man as one of the main characters. Missiroli, an Italian author, has masterfully included a gay character.

The other 14 books I’ve read in 2019 don’t have any gay characters.

In the 18 books I’ve read, there are no lesbian, bi, trans or disabled characters. But there are Aboriginal characters in three of these books. Considering 8 of the books are by Australian authors, I would have expected more.

Taboo, Spirit of the Ghan and Sorry have included Aboriginal characters and often they are pivotal to the story.

So what do I want? I want today’s books to represent today’s society as it really is. I don’t want to see gay and lesbian sex scenes in mainstream literature. Nor do I want minority groups to be invisible. Why not have a woman refer to her wife? Why not have a man give his boyfriend flowers? At the check-out, why not have the woman in the wheel chair in the line ahead of the main character? And if you’re an author, why not be part of the solution, instead of perpetuating under-representation or invisibility. My book, The Maiden Aunts has lesbian, gay, straight and Aboriginal characters. I haven’t ticked all the boxes, but at least my book doesn’t perpetuate the white heterosexual status quo.

So here’s a challenge for you. Please message me the titles of any good books that include minority group characters, even in bit-parts. I look forward to reading your suggestions.

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