LGBTQ characters lead popular books recommended in New Bedford

NEW BEFORE – Strong, empowered LGBTQ + characters thrive in the literary world. Here’s why stories like “Hurricane Child” or “Zenobia July” should be welcome on any teenager’s shelf.

“It’s an opportunity to see people like them, who they can relate to, who have had a similar experience to them portrayed in the literature,” said South Coast LGBTQ network coordinator Eileen Dugas. “It may also create a deeper interest in reading for the LGBTQ community. “

Dugas is excited to see the latest increase in queer stories – especially characters within the trans community – rating TV series such as Freeform’s “The Fosters,” which features two mothers as the main protagonists.

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“I think there was a process of learning and accepting the LGBTQ community in culture and religion that must have happened before people accepted it more,” she said. .

Dugas, a former preschool teacher, observed a big shift in the way schools have embraced the subject of LGBTQ stories in the classroom. “In the early 90s, when I was bringing LGBTQ literature into a classroom about different types of family dynamics, I had to have a conversation with parents before I did,” she said.

“Now I think it’s acceptable in our curriculum. We have moved beyond that.

A bookshelf inside the New Bedford Free Public Library.

Dugas is in the early stages of forming a Youth Advisory Council with the network. He will serve as a voice for the needs of young people in SouthCoast’s LGBTQ community and train them to become future members of the network’s board of directors. (If you are interested, contact the network.)

She also hopes to provide a book club for interested young people and says the network is working with the New Bedford Free Public Library on events and programs.

“It’s really exciting to see all ages getting involved in the readings, and I really love the community,” said Bethany Coito, Youth Services Librarian. “New Bedford has so much to offer their families. And it’s so unique to any other community I’ve seen.

The official logo of the New Bedford Free Public Library.

With the support of Library Director Olivia Melo, Coito says the library has an extensive collection of LGBTQ-themed literature and hopes to continue working with the South Coast LGBTQ Network on future events.

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“A few years ago we were able to get a table at New Bedford Pride Day which was held in Buttonwood Park,” she said. “We were able to have LGBT literacy like a pop-up library… it was a fun way to make the collection more accessible to people and more visible that their local libraries have inclusive works for them. “

The Lawler Branch Teen Room at the New Bedford Free Public Library serves teens in the community.

Coito, who also co-chairs the LGBTQ winter film series, says she has been doing development work for the library for over three years and has seen an incredible amount of access featuring LGBTQ characters.

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“The authors explore pronouns. They are exploring different diverse characters, not just a lesbian character, they are exploring different cultures, ”she said. “And it’s really exciting to watch, it’s more relevant for kids.”

Buzzfeed has put together a list of “Mid-Level LGBTQ + Novels You Need in Your Life” and here are five of our favorites. That’s what Coito said about some of our picks.

‘Zenobia July’ by Lisa Bunker

Synopsis: A young transsexual moves from Arizona to Maine to live with her aunts. With the recent discoveries she’s made about her real self, a transition to a new home is just the start of a very unknown life to come.

The cover of "Zenobia July" by Lisa Bunker.

“There is realistic fiction, which a lot of this mid-level enjoys reading, because it’s very relatable,” Coito said. “I really liked the way the author treated neutral pronouns throughout the book. I found it really important because the main character is a transfer.

“And that also included this mystery sleuth story with a change in family life and the main character really flourishes in computer skills, and you can see cyberbullying. There isn’t enough mid-level fiction that really covers cyberbullying.

“A High Five for Glenn Burke” by Phil Bildner

Plot: Weaving the true story of the Los Angeles Dodgers Glenn Burke, the first openly gay professional baseball player, college boy Silas struggles with knowing he’s gay and wants to hang out.

The cover of "A High Five for Glenn Burke" by Phil Bildner.

“Silas’ journey instills lessons in tolerance, genuineness, and genuine love and understanding,” wrote Mike Reed of the New York Times. “As readers search for Diamond wins, the off-court triumphs of compassion, integrity and forgiveness sweeten the delights of home runs and double plays.”

“Hurricane Child” by Kacen Callender

Synopsis: Set in Saint Thomas, on the Virgin Island of the United States, Caroline Murphy – a queer black girl born during a hurricane – discovers her love for another girl. He is a recipient of the Stonewall Book Award.

The Stonewall Book Prize

“These are awarded to books of outstanding merit in the experience of bisexual gays, lesbians and transgender people. So there’s a roundtable that votes every year on all of those Stonewalls, ”Coito said.

The cover of "Hurricane child" by Kacen Callender.

“So this book [“Hurricane Child”] won the Stonewall Book Award in 2019, ”she said. “We don’t get a lot of mid-level readings with this geographic location [St. Thomas]. The main character, she’s really complex, she handled her first flow, she handled the harassment.

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“And she has this relationship with a friend and they want to have this adventure because her mom is missing. It’s not just about being queer. It’s more than that.

“Too Bright to See” by Kyle Lukoff

Plot: Eleven-year-old Bug and Moira take advantage of the summer to prepare for college. For Moira, that means deciding what clothes to wear, how to wear makeup, and which boy is cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But Bug doesn’t seem to care about all that “girlish stuff”.

Instead, Bug uses the summer to determine if a ghost is haunting their house and as she begins to unravel the mystery, she makes a whole new discovery: Bug is transgender.

The cover of "Too bright to see" by Kyle Lukoff.

“Through Bug’s journey to self-realization and self-acceptance, and the wonderfully nuanced understanding of gender he comes to, Lukoff provides a tender rumination on grief, love and identity,” a writes Publishers Weekly.

“The best at that” by Maulik Pancholy

Synopsis: Rahul Kapoor, an American Indian, is on his way to seventh grade. He turns to his grandfather, Bhai, for advice on finding the one thing you’re really good at and becoming the best at it.

The cover of "The best in this area" by Maulik Pancholy.

“The main character is a gay American Indian boy who lives in a small town,” Coito said. “Despite being gay as a first generation American, it has that emotional aspect of dealing with your culture and who you are, and knowing how to embrace your culture.

“The main character has a lot of anxiety and you can see the character develop and have more courage at the end.”

Maulik Pancholy: January 18, 1974.

The author, Pancholy, is best known for being the insane personal assistant of Alec Baldwin on the NBC series “30 Rock” and Sanjay in Showtime’s “Weeds”.

“We actually have an autographed copy. He came to Cambridge, ”Coito added.

Addition to our list

“Graphic novels are huge for the intermediate level and a lot of the youth graphics include LGBT characters,” Coito said, listing books such as “Magic Fish,” “Princess Princess Ever After,” “Flamer,” “Heartstopper” and “Bloom.”

“There is a lot of interest for all ages, not just intermediate levels, to really know how to identify different trans identities and how to use pronouns correctly,” she said. “They want to be more inclusive.

The LGBTQ flag features the word "peace" between.

The library also offers to organize sets of books focused on a specific topic such as LGBTQ literature. There is a Google form to fill out.

“I think it’s important for the LGBT community to have support in the community. And that’s just one way for me to do it, ”Coito said.

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