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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Dee Michel, a friend and colleague in Oz scholarship, is giving a talk at the Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts, next 14 November:
My son is 9 (or 5 or 7 or 11) years old, and I think he’s gay. Can you recommend any children’s books for him?

If you thought you had a gay son, what kinds of stories would you want to read to him or have him read for himself? For a few decades now GLBT young adults have been able to see images of themselves in young adult novels from Annie on My Mind (1982) to Parrotfish (2007). But are there any books for kids younger than adolescents that have representations of gay adults or gay kids in them? Let’s talk about the barriers to getting books with gay children as characters published, and imagine what a book with gay kids as characters would look like!

Equally important are stories that don’t have explicit gay images, but have themes that would resonate with a gay child who feels different, or doesn’t fit the typical gender mold. These might be less threatening and more accessible for kids, parents, librarians, and teachers. After corresponding with dozens of experts in children’s literature, and interviewing over 100 gay male adults, I’ve come up with a list of children’s stories with “subterranean gay content,” as well as those that have gay adults in them.
Dee has a Ph.D. in library and information science and has been researching the varied appeal of The Wizard of Oz for gay men and boys. His talk starts at 7:00 P.M.

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