Here’s a sample draft of a blog post I have read several million times:
There’s no diversity in YA fantasy and sci-fi!! We need to change that. Here are the only lgbtq fantasy books I like and have read:
- The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
- The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
- Six of Crows by
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Uh… huh. Let’s talk.
So here’s the thing: These posts are really great and fun, and I’m glad people are beginning to read more diverse YA lit, and I really do understand that it’s hard to find good diverse lit, as it often goes under the radar.
But those being the only four lgbtq genre fiction books you’ve read is sort of… part of the problem?
Let me explain: posts like this being so freaking constant normalizes not trying to read diversely. It’s an attempt to rationalize and make it totally socially acceptable to say “hey, I don’t make any effort to read diversely, but I still complain about it a lot.” When I’m reading that as an actual lgbtq person, my immediate reaction is to remember that there’s a good chance you don’t actually care that much and you’re writing this for clicks.
Or, better yet, there’s a good chance that you only care about lgbtq novels because you like reading m/m and have no intention of never reading f/f!! Which also… feels bad, dude. Like, don’t get me wrong, we all have reading preferences, but just “not being interested” in reading about sapphic girls is. homophobic.
And please don’t think the sapphics on your feed don’t notice the people who have never read an f/f book and never plan to. We do.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love the intent of pointing out lack of diversity in fantasy novels. That is very real problem. It is relatable as hell. I also recognize that many readers and bloggers don’t read more than a few books per year and it’s really difficult to prioritize in that situation. But there are a lot of problems with this kind of post!!
First of all, diverse and lgbtq are not synonyms. If you’re talking about the lack of lgbtq fantasy series, talk about that, because when you title posts like these with “diverse book list,” you are actively ignoring that diversity also means characters of color, disabled characters, mentally ill characters. The term “diversity” has so many meanings. Be specific unless your post is purposefully unspecific.
Second of all, these books are often… not exactly the holy grail. Gotta be honest, it seems very, very weird to point out a lack of diversity while mentioning only four fantasy series, none of whom are by authors who are publicly out, all four of which are m/m by white women (we won’t assume they’re all straight; none are out). That’s not to say those books aren’t great – I’ve read and enjoyed all four of those books!! – but it seems veeeeeery weird, and super super super not-intersectional.
And yes, this example list was quite specific, but this is not just one blogger or just one list!! I have read far longer lists with literally not one wlw book and literally not one book by an author of color.
Third of all, YOU JUST WROTE DOWN FOUR BOOKS!! and there are a lot more out there!! and I don’t think this is usually the intent, but when you write a post like this ranting about the YA lit market, it reads like the implication is that no other queer fantasy books exist.
So let’s say you had good intentions. First of all, if you needed recs for really good fantasy and/or genre fiction novels with lgbtq leads, I have an entire shelf dedicated to this subject! But here are some that I never see mentioned:
- The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson, which is weird and funny and all about the goodness of humanity, and the lead is latina and bi!!
- Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore, postcolonial lit & magical realism by a queer latinx author, with an all-bi cast and genderqueer & trans side characters!!
- Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle, a magical urban fantasy book that won’t work for everyone about sexual assault, self-hate, and with two leads, a bi girl who ends up with a guy and a lesbian who ends up with another bi girl
- Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore, which is weird, and sapphic, and fantastically compelling, and genuinely glorious
- The Abyss Surrounds Us (#1) by Emily Skrutskie, an angsty two-book duology about sapphic pirates falling in love. this has everything!! an amoral sapphic lead, a really badass complex pirate villain, environmentalism, m o r a l c o n f l i c t s
- Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, a fascinating Neverwhere-esque urban fantasy series with trans and ace and lesbian leads, by a bi woman
- Reign of the Fallen (#1) by Sarah Glenn Marsh, the beginning of a fantasy duology about a bi necromancer and also, trauma, with a main f/f romance
- The Wicker King by K. Ancrum, an urban fantasyish suspenseish biracial black bi woman and very weird and creepy and gay?
- Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust, a wonderfully dark snow white retelling focused on the relationships between women, where snow white herself is gay and her prince charming is a girl!!
- Nevernight (#1) by Jay Kristoff, a fantasy book essentially about Hogwarts for assassins, starring a bi lead and a sapphic couple in book two!!
- Girls of Paper and Fire (#1) by Natasha Ngan, a very angsty very good fantasy novel about sapphic!!! !!!! Asians !!!! and has a sapphic Asian author, and talks a lot about rape and trauma.
- Into the Drowning Deep (#1) by Mira Grant aka Seanan McGuire, a scifi horror suspense book starring a biracial Native Hawaiian professor and one autistic lesbian and one bi scientist. also, sapphic love. it’s GREAT.
- The Brilliant Death (#1) by Amy Rose Capetta, a fantasy book starring an Italian genderqueer main character, with a genderqueer love interest, and guess what? it’s by a genderqueer Italian author who has a genderqueer partner !!!!!!!!! I LOVE THAT
And then some books I haven’t read yet, including NEW RELEASES:
- Timekeeper by Tara Sim, historical urban fantasy by an Indian queer author (WHICH I OWN AND I NEED TO READ IMMEDIATELY IM SO EXCITED)
- We Set the Dark on Fire (#1) by Tehlor Kay Mejia, an upcoming fantasy book about a school for girls and the sapphic latinas who take it down together!! the author is sapphic and latina.
- Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria, an upcoming fantasy book all my friends have been loving containing an m/m relationship between two characters of color!! the author is latinx and I think is also queer? but I’m unsure.
- Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, women-driven fabulism about rape culture with several lead characters of color and a sapphic romance. the author is bi!
And here’s the thing: even this list is not enough!! We still need to do more. There aren’t enough authors of color on this list!!