Language, of course, is constantly being redefined, not just by demagogues, but by people who employ it. Language is we realized. Each word has passed mouth by mouth over the centuries, changed by intonation and accent, changed by wit and utility. Those before us decided that a certain thing—an amaranth, a colander—needs naming. Naming, as Emerson argues, is a poet’s undertaking. It is not happenstance that the poet’s job is the job of language itself—to reach beyond the impossible chasm of two minds, of multiple times, and make known the inner things. And language, like the other democratic things—freedom of assembly, habeas corpus—is among first casualties of war. The maiming and obliteration of language preempts and attempts to excuse the maiming and obliteration of bodies. Poets, as the caretakers of language, if by no other contested purpose of poetry—to humanize, to emote, to demand a ‘total reaction’ as Muriel Rukeyser puts it—are called upon to respond, to defend their medium.
We should see color. We should see religion. We should see homosexuality. We should see gender identity. We should see all the things that make people and the world different and not pretend that we are colorblind or that one story is enough to represent a whole group of people.
But we should also remember that most people have the same kinds of feelings and wants. Everyone wants to be the hero sometimes.
I was really tempted to ignore this because I don’t believe in giving anon wangs a platform, but the term “unnecessary lesbianism” made me laugh so hard that I caved.
Authors can write good books and make statements. I’m going to make some statements now. (Get ready.)
Queer people and queer relationships aren’t less necessary to narrative than cishet people or relationships. In fact, given the lovely emails and messages I’ve received about Tamar and Nadia (and given the existence of anon wangs like you), I’d say making queer relationships visible in young adult fiction is an excellent—and yes, necessary—idea.
I do agree that story trumps statement or we’d all just write angry pamphlets, but queer people exist both in my world and the world of the Grisha trilogy. I don’t see how including them in my work is making a statement unless that statement is “I won’t willfully ignore or exclude people in order to make a few anon wangs happy.” If that’s the statement I’m making, I’m totally down with it.
Also, I’m going to take this moment to shout out Malinda Lo, Laura Lam, Alex London, David Levithan, Emily Danforth, Emma Trevayne, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Clare, and to link to Malinda’s 2013 guide to LGBT in YA. Because why just give attention to bigots when you can talk about awesome books and authors instead?
fuck yeah, Leah Bardugo!
It’s a total cliché, but it’s important to be true to yourself. That’s where your power is. That doesn’t mean “Don’t take advice, don’t work on your skills.” It just means find what you’re passionate about—what you can devote your life to—and take it from there. (Here, I might add that talent is overrated, and a sense of purpose and dedication maybe underrated, for a creative career.)
Suddenly her mom’s silence matched Jackie’s own. “Oh, my God,” she murmured in disbelief. “Are you gay?”
"Yeah," Jackie forced herself to say.
After what felt like an eternity, her mom finally responded. “I don’t know what we could have done for God to have given us a fag as a child,” she said before hanging up.
She got a call from her older brother. “He said, ‘Mom and Dad don’t want to talk to you, but I’m supposed to tell you what’s going to happen,’” Jackie recalls. “And he’s like, ‘All your cards are going to be shut off, and Mom and Dad want you to take the car and drop it off at this specific location. Your phone’s going to last for this much longer. They don’t want you coming to the house, and you’re not to contact them. You’re not going to get any money from them. Nothing. And if you don’t return the car, they’re going to report it stolen.’ And I’m just bawling. I hung up on him because I couldn’t handle it.” Her brother was so firm, so matter-of-fact, it was as if they already weren’t family.
One thing you notice very early on is that conversation is how we become human. The word “infant” literally means “without the possibility of phatic expression.” We begin our lives by being spoken to and then slowly by responding. It’s what makes us come together as a kindred species. Without this dialogue, without this possibility of exchange, part of our humanity — that which makes us truly human — is lost. So for me conversation is a way of going back to that initial moment. Conversation is a giving and a taking, back and forth.
I suspect… that one would not be far wrong in saying that in addition to the people to whom it has never occurred that a novel ought to be artistic, there are a great many others who, if this principle were urged upon them, would be filled with an indefinable mistrust… One would say that being good means representing virtuous and aspiring characters, placed in prominent positions; another would say that it depends for a ‘happy ending’ on a distribution at the last of prizes, pensions, husbands, wives, babies, millions, appended paragraphs and cheerful remarks. Another still would say that it means being full of incident and movement, so that we shall wish to jump ahead, to see who was the mysterious stranger, and if the stolen will was ever found, and shall not be distracted from this pleasure by any tiresome analysis or ‘description.’ But they would all agree that the ‘artistic’ idea would spoil some of their fun. One would hold it accountable for all the description, another would see it revealed in the absence of sympathy. Its hostility to a happy ending would be evident, and it might even, in some cases, render any ending at all impossible.