As a teenager, I read “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” a coming-of-age novel about a young girl’s journey to find herself through the affections of another woman. The relationship allowed me to look beyond heterosexual couples to see that two women in love are no different than heterosexuals in love.
Books were my gateway to educating and understanding not only who I was, but who others were. There are roughly 10 million American adults who identify as LGBTQ yet people and the media tend to oversexualize the most innocent of romances.
We need to stop oversexualizing the LGBTQ community because it will only continue to ostracize the youth that could potentially identify as such.
The American Library Association recently published 2016’s list of the top 10 most challenged books. Of these 10 books, the top five novels were LGBTQ-related. The explanation given for the attempted removal of these books was that they were deemed to have “sexually explicit LGBT content,” the inclusion of LGBTQ characters or “an offensive viewpoint.”
The attempted removal of the books reflects the negative image some individuals have regarding the LGBTQ community, when in all actuality, heterosexual and homosexual couples can experience a pure and innocent love that is not explicit. Books that contain homosexuality or gender identity issues should not be treated differently from other novels that contain heterosexual couples because it only continues to shun youth that might potentially identify as LGBTQ members.
There’s a need for the humanization of the LGBTQ community and the realistic representation through depictions of different kinds of couples. Books are vital to understanding the emotional aspects of LGBTQ love, not just the physiological aspects that they are typically associated with. English junior Morgan Southworth, who is bisexual, said she remembers becoming aware of the LGBTQ community at 12, but didn’t truly know she was bisexual until 16 or 17. The gap between her knowing about the community to self-awareness could have been bridged if there were more educational resources offered, like queer-friendly books.
“I feel like I learned early enough for myself, but obviously if something is normalized in childhood it has a much higher acceptance rate,” Southworth said. Otherwise, you end up hearing too many biases from family and the community as you grow up, whether you want to or not.” The bias that can be heard can easily shut out the youth from coming out of the closet, which can be detrimental to their character.
Books are critical in avoiding the stripping down of LGBTQ couples to just sexual beings. They are beyond normative perceptions, and it’s our duty to ensure our youth, queer or not, have access to this knowledge. Homosexual couples are simply couples — stop sexualizing love.
McLean is an English junior from Houston.