Understanding Sexual Orientation
In the past, few young adult authors wrote about sexual orientation, in part because of the nature of the topic and, perhaps, the fears of censorship. However, an increasing number of writers now provide frank looks at differing sexual orientations and their surrounding challenges. One of the first books to address this topic was Nancy Garden’s classic Annie on My Mind (1982), in which two high school girls accept their feelings for one another as their relationship develops and they fall in love. In Deliver Us from Evie (1994), M. E. Kerr explores the reactions of Evie Burrman’s family and the small town in which she lives when Evie reveals her sexual orientation and her affair with Patsy Duff, the daughter of a banker who holds the loan on the Burrman farm. Dirk McDonald confronts his sexual identity in Francesca Lia Block’s Baby Be-Bop (1995), and Heavenly Faith Simms learns who she really is in Julia Watts’ Finding H. F. (2001).
Some young adults are challenged to understand the sexual orientation of friends and other family members. Mel in From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (Woodson, 1995) keeps detailed notebooks telling of his anger, confusion, and denial in this story of mothers, sons, and lesbians. In Brad’s Universe (Woodbury, 1998), Brad’s father sexually harasses boys; and in True Believer (Wolff, 2001), LaVaughn finds out why the boy she likes is not interested in having a girlfriend.
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