This Cover Is Gay (and here to stay)

The letters I’ve been getting about THIS BOOK IS GAY are blowing my mind. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure who was going to read it but it seems lots of you are and it seems it’s helping. That was all I ever wanted. Especially touching are the letters from young people who have just come out as LGBT* or are planning to do so. Thank you as ever for your feedback, it really means the world on a drizzly day in South London.

I just wanted to write a brief note about the cover. A couple of doubting Thomases have expressed the following opinion about the cover:

IF I WAS A CLOSETED 13-YEAR OLD I WOULDN’T BE SEEN DEAD WITH THAT BOOK.

Let’s address the cover. It took us a *really* long time to come up with that cover, as striking and simple as it is. The word that kept flying around the cover meetings is that we wanted it to be a PROUD cover because the book is a proud book which encourages young LGBT* readers to be proud of themselves and their achievements. 

But what about those readers who aren’t feeling out and proud? Is that cover alienating them? Maybe it is! Honestly, I wouldn’t have picked it up when I was 13.

BUT. I was 13 in 1994. There was no Will Young; no Brian Dowling; no Graham Norton or Ellen Degeneres or Ellen Page. There were no internet support forums. A lot of the cover critics are men and women MY AGE. Things are different today.

Even if a young person isn’t proud enough to pick up THIS BOOK IS GAY at 13, they might be at 15, and for two years, they knew it was there if they needed it. The visibility and defiance of the cover are vital here. It’s almost enough that young LGBT* people see the book in Waterstones and recognise they are now a part of mainstream publishing culture.

Detractors of the cover almost seem to be suggesting we should hide this book. I believe hiding never furthered progress. The gay rights movement was pushed forward by an angry transexual at the Stonewall Inn, not by politely, quietly hiding.

THIS BOOK IS GAY will not hide, and nor should LGBT* people. Ever.

That said, totes available on Kindle, innit.

The Dawson Diversity Test | James Dawson

Following my Patrick Hardy lecture for the Children’s Book Circle last week, how do we simply monitor and track the diversity of children’s and YA books?