Happy TTT everyone! This weeks topic was a freebie, and since it also happens to fall on the first day of Pride Month, I figured it would be a great time to share my favorite non-hetero characters! I’ve been reading LGBTQ+ books for a long, long time, back when the rep wasn’t nearly as as good as it is today, and half of what was published was essentially tragedy-porn. Back then, if you wanted to write about being gay you usually had to do a “serious” book- there was no room for joy and celebration, or at least that is what publishers were pushing. The closest thing to gay comedy I could find back then was Dave Sedaris, who just happens to be gay, and doesn’t actually focus a lot of time on it in his works.
Of course there were exceptions! Lynn Flewelling, Mercedes Lackey, Ellen Kushner, Fanny Flagg, these women and a handful of other authors were creating stories where being gay wasn’t the main focus. Of course, these stories also had their problems, but at least their protagonists were allowed to live their lives without having to contend with a rash of prejudice and hate… mostly. If you were lucky enough to into the manga and manwa (Korean comics) scene, then you’d have an even broader selection of reading material- as Japan and Korean creators have been writing LGBTQ+ stories for a long time. Granted, most of them are not Own Voices novels, and a lot is to be said for how much fan service goes into these characters and their stories, but if you were patient and persistent, you could find some really lovely gems scattered throughout the thousands of scans and fan translations that existed (it took several years for Western publishers to quit straight-washing characters).
Sorry this is such a long intro! I’m usually already at the list by now! But, I figured this was deserving of a little backstory, especially because while it doesn’t feel like that long ago, we have made so many huge strides towards representation in literature! Graphic novels, comics, novellas, full-length books! You name it, and it’s available in some form or another! And the diversity of stories nearly matches the diversity of authors! Speaking as someone who had to live through a vast wasteland of nearly nothing, we are lucky to have the options we do! But enough of my babble! Let’s get to the good stuff!
Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by That Artsy Reader Girl.
This and it’s follow up, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain are two lyrical and lovely books (though I did enjoy Empress more than Tiger). In it we join our hero- Chih, a nonbinary monk from a place called Singing Hills. We witness the world through their eyes, as they gather interesting stories from across the land and record them. Chih is brave, smart, and kind, often using their skills as a story teller to sooth anger and save themselves from… uncomfortable situations. I’m really looking forward to seeing where they end up next!
No list of heroes is complete without the miracle that is Rune Saint John, last member and heir to the Sun House, prodigal scion and general cinnamon roll. You want brave? You want kind? You want honorable? Rune has got you covered, and if he doesn’t, then Brand, his Companion, friend, bodyguard (and hopefully something more someday, please), has got you covered. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- The Tarot Sequence has got some of the best Rep I’ve seen in a male driven cast. We’ve got ace, we’ve got gender neutral and fluid, bisexual, gay, and probably more to come because Edwards is a gift that keeps on giving. But back to Rune, he is handsome, kind, and you can’t leave the books without wanting to be by his side, like a lot of the supporting cast!
Gideon likes two things- her huge, ridiculous sword, and ladies. Gideon is also far cooler than me, maybe you? and everyone else, even though she would probably argue that she is incredibly lame and hopeless. All it takes is one read through of this story to tell you otherwise. She might be hiding it behind a facade of sarcasm, face paint, and aviators, but our girl is just desperate for something nice, something good, something more than the dying planet she was born on and the tomb she has been forced to live in. This story was dark and sordid and complicated, but balanced with humor and heart, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the conclusion to the trilogy when it comes out (next year)!
Alex might be a lot of people’s go to for this one- he is certainly more relatable, but it’s Henry who stole my heart (like he did Alex’s). Our delightfully gay Prince (“I’ve been gay as a maypole since the day I came out of mum…”) is all broken edges and trauma and poetry, but also charm and wit and scathing attitude. How could you not love every moment with this man? Endlessly quotable, intelligent and kind- you will want to change the world for him, just like Alex did by the end.
Dr. Mensah may not be the main character of the series- she may not even be around in a couple of the novellas, but that doesn’t stop her from being my favorite supporting character of the series. Bisexual, poly-amorous, and wicked-smart, the Murderbot stories are like porn for people who like competence instead of sex. Nothing makes me happier then when Murderbot and Mensah are just… talking, it’s like a breath of fresh air every time.
Sinjir Rath Velus might be a former Loyalty Officer for the Imperial army- but he’s left a life of torture behind for better things. Having joined the Rebellion, Sin is more than a little lost and grumpy, and I love that this story gave him the space to be those things. A dark, complicated man with an even darker passed (Imperials have a… certain way to enforce loyalty in the ranks), we watch him slowly learn to accept his history and begin to move forward, making the right choices along the way, while also falling for a badass Rebel. He’s sarcastic, but it’s just to hide his soft, gooey center, and the rescue scene in the final book might be my favorite scene from any Star Wars series of all time, which is saying a LOT, considering we exist in a world with Finn and Poe.
Another book from the Tarot Sequence! This time the shout out goes to Ciaran- gender fluid, pansexual, and ab-so-lute-ly fabulous. They are quiet possible the strongest character that we’ve met in the series (so far), with vast, far-flung power that has yet to be fully revealed. They are also wonderfully dressed, perfectly coifed, dolled up, and full of killer one liners, come backs, and scathing remarks. They are also kinder then they want anyone to know, super brave, wise, and clever. You know things are going to get very interesting and/or exciting when Ciaran arrives, and they never disappoint.
The Japanese truly won the cover art game with this one! But they tend to win with aesthetics anyway, so I don’t think anyone is surprised! Seregil e Korit is many things, an exiled noble, a thief, a warrior, and long-lived elf-adjacent being, and bi. He’s also gorgeous, smart, funny, and kind. I really love the first three books in the Nightrunner series, sadly they turned into grim-dark-torture-porn after awhile and I just couldn’t hang, but Luck in the Shadows still stands as one of my favorite gay fantasy novels, even though the first book is little more than a slow burn experiment with how much sexual tension someone can create while being completely unaware that they are creating that tension at all. Someday I’ll get the gay fantasy I want, with thieves and glamor and HEA, but for now, at least I’ve got the start of this series.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is such an underrated hero, and this book is so beautiful, but so different from The Night Circus that I think a lot of people look down on it for that. While I admit that I initially loved The Night Circus more, a later reread changed my mind. Marco is a toxic love interest who lead on one women while admitting obsession with another. Zachary, on the other hand is a college student who loves cupcakes and video games- immediately more relatable. The Starless Sea sees him wondering through myth and legend, peeling back layers of old story to reveal the truth behind the mysterious land he finds himself in. The imagery Morgenstern creates in this story is beautiful and layered, full of symbolism and metaphor, like many fairy and folk tales. It’s a little less linear then The Night Circus, but I feel like the story is more substantial here, and Zachary’s love interest- Dorian, is just so DASHING. Like… what? Forget meet-cute, let’s start a trend of meet-mystery, where your future love is masked and whispering strange tales at a gala.
There it is folks! Hope you enjoyed this little peek at my favorite LGBTQ+ characters! I’ve got some really popular titles on here, have you gotten around to reading any of them? If so, what did you think about the representation and characterization? I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys chose for you topics this week, it’s always exciting when it’s a freebie! Until then, happy reading, and I’ll see you in the comments!
Previous Top Ten Tuesdays…
- Bookish Quotes About Identity & Change
- Books I’d Give a Theme Song To
- Books with Nature on the Cover
- My Ten Most Recent Reads