Canadian GLBT YA Books

In response to a speech by David Levithan, Australian YA author Justine Larbalestier is compiling a list of Australian GLBT YA books.

So, I decided to put together the Canadian equivalent.

Full annotations would be nice at some point, but until then, a lot of the titles are links from CM: Canadian Review of Materials, from the U of Manitoba because the reviews there are fairly extensive and often include short excerpts from the books. At this point, the division between the significant GLBT content and secondary characters and themes is pretty arbitrary.

I’ve tracked down most of the titles using google, keyword searches on CM (which is more difficult than you’d think, given the proliferation of articles featuring noted children’s illustrator Marie Louise Gay), The Last Taboo: Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Law in Canadian Libraries presented at CLA 2006 by Dr Alvin Schrader from the U of Alberta, and the index of books in The Heart Has Its Reasons: Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004 by Michael Cart and Christine A. Jenkins.

Additions and corrections gladly welcomed!

(Updated July 2009 w/ Out, Will’s Garden, Inferno, Evil?, Girl from Mars, The Uninvited and Skim)
(Updated May 2008 w/ Big Boy and Big Big Sky.)
(Updated Nov. 2007 w/ Another kind of Cowboy and Out of Order)

Canadian GLBT YA novels with gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered themes, or primary characters

No Signature by William Bell, 1992.

Bottom Drawer by David Boyd, 1996.

S.P. Likes A.D. by Catherine Brett, 1989.

The Hemingway Tradition by Kristin Butcher, 2002.

Big Big Sky by Kristyn Dunnion, 2008.

Mosh Pit by Kristyn Dunnion, 2004.

In the Garage by Alma Fullerton, 2006.

Hello Groin by Beth Goobie, 2006.

Stitches by Glen Huser, 2003.

Touch of the Clown by Glen Huser, 1999.

Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby, 2007.

Gravity by Leanne Lieberman, 2008.

Crush by Carrie Mac, 2006

Degrassi Junior High: Snake by Susin Nielsen, 1991 (2006 reprint).

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai, 2005.

Big Guy by Robin Stevenson, 2008.

Bad Boy by Diana Wieler, 1989.

Truth and Lies by Tamara Williams, 2002.

Box Girl by Sarah Withrow, 2001.


Hear Me Out: True Stories of Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia, a project of Planned Parenthood of Toronto, 2004

Short Story Collections, with at least one story with significant GLBT characters or themes

“Toxic Love” in Toxic Love by Linda Holeman, 2003.

“Queen of Spades” in Take the Stairs by Karen Krossing, 2004.

“Between Mars and Venus,” “Waiting for Brian,” “Micheline and Renee,” and “Ferris Wheel” in 101 Ways to Dance by Kathy Stinson, 2006.

“Father by Mail” in Friendships by Budge Wilson, 2006.

GLBT characters in a significant secondary role

Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks, 2007.

Out by Sandra Diersch, 2009.

Boy O’Boy by Brian Doyle, 2003.

The Beckoners by Carrie Mac, 2004.

Out of Order by Robin Stevenson, 2007.

The Game by Teresa Toten, 2001.

What Gloria Wants by Sarah Withrow, 2006.

GLBT minor characters and plot points

Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen by Glen Huser, 2006 (the title characters stay with a gay couple while in Seattle)

Alice, I Think; Miss Smithers; Alice MacLeod, Realist At Last by Susan Juby (one of Alice’s parents’ friends is gay)

The Droughtlanders, 2006; Retribution, 2007 by Carrie Mac (Triskelia series) (I have not read–though am much looking forward to–book two, and am assuming it also has GLBT content)

Telling by Carol Matas, 1998 (I have not read this one, and I know something somewhere must have indicated that I should add it to the list, but now I can’t find the reference.)

Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson (One of the main character’s friends has two moms)

One Year Commencing by Kathy Stinson, 1997 (in this interview, Kathy Stinson says that the main character’s mom can be assumed to be gay)

Want more? YA fantasy author Justine Larbalestier has a list of Australian GLBT YA books, and there are some great lists of mostly US books like the one from author Alex Sanchez, the Multnomah County Library, and part of ALA’s Young Adult Library Association 2006 Popular Paperbacks, and this GLBTQ booklist from Horn Book is a great resource, too.

Also! Blogs! There’s I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell do I read?: the place to find out about Young Adult fiction books with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning characters and themes. …and other cool stuff from Lee Wind, Teen Action Fantasy author, and Worth the Trip, queer books for kids and teens.


12 responses to “Canadian GLBT YA Books

  1. Delighted to see two of my books on your list! Especially 101 Ways to Dance which main characters with a range of sexual orientations. In One Year Commencing, the sexuality of the main character’s friend’s mother is just hinted at, so I’m pleased you felt it belonged on your list.

    You’ve got some great selections here and I look forward to checking out those I haven’t come across yet!

  2. I just finished 101 Ways to Dance last week, and I was thrilled at the diversity of sexual orientations! (Though I think my favourite was “Everyone Loves a Clown.”)

    I’ve included books with fairly minor same-sex characters (like One Year Commencing and Kit Pearson’s Awake an Dreaming) because I think that simple visiblity and inclusion is every bit as important as having books for teens with gay protagonists. So yes, I am happy to include One Year Commencing in the list!

  3. Pingback: New additions to the big list o’ Canadian GLBT YA « what Elisabeth is reading

  4. hey there:

    i love what you do and put a link up from my new web site. I hope that’s alright with you!

    Plus, I’d love to send you a copy of my new YA book BIG BIG SKY. It’s hot off the press.

    xo kristyn

  5. Ooh, cool, post-apocalyptic YA! I would love to see a copy. Email me at ehegerat at telus dot net and I’ll send you my mailing address. From your website, it looks like it has queer content, yes?

  6. Pingback: New GLBT Canadian YA books! « what Elisabeth is reading

  7. Seems to me that the only time people focus on someone’s sexual orientation is if that person is homosexual, and that’s just crazy. People should relate to one another on whatever level brings them into contact — work, sports, music … whatever. We are so much more than our sexuality. That’s what I was trying to say in The Hemingway Tradition.

    • Kirstin, that’s very true! However, there’s been such a negative stigma attached to being gay for so many years that there haven’t been many (if ANY) places in teen fiction that a gay teenager can actually see themselves, which is an incredibly alienating experience. (Heck, in most of the problem novels of the 80’s, IF there was a gay character, which amounts to about a dozen books, the gay kid inevitably died at the end–not so much a reassuring, positive message!) So I do count every book with GLBT characters in it as a step in the right direction towards getting to that point where sexual orientation only matters if you’re interested in dating someone.

  8. Hey, great list – I’m excited to see some new ones to me on it!
    hurray for getting the word out about great GLBTQ books for Teens!

  9. Pingback: New Canadian GLBT YA books « what Elisabeth is reading

  10. Pingback: Linkalicious: a GLBTQ assortment… « what Elisabeth is reading

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