Lately, I’ve been on a young-adult-books-featuring-LGBTQ+-protagonists kick. Pantomime by Laura Lam, which came out two years ago, was on the outskirts of my radar for a while, because how often do you find a fantasy novel about a bisexual intersex transgender teen? Pantomime was definitely the first for me. It surprised me quite pleasantly with the inclusion of many other queer characters in a rather fascinating world, despite the fact that both the LGBTQ+ representation and the worldbuilding leave a little something to be desired at the end. But Pantomime is the first book in a trilogy, so here’s hoping that some of the potential will still be realized. Spoilers after the jump!
I don’t know about you, but one of the main reasons I read fantasy is to escape reality. I want to be transported into worlds that are full of magic and excitement. I want to know that I can be an elf with perfect aim or a magician with the power to control the weather. Unfortunately, as a queer person I often run into a problem—I apparently don’t exist in most of the worlds I want to visit. There is enough bigotry and ignorance in the real world. The point of a fantasy world is that it’s different from the real one. But how different is it, really, if there is no place for LGBTQ+ people in it? (Same goes for many other minorities, but that’s a topic for another post, perhaps.) And I’m so tired of it.
I am also particularly tired of people trying to justify the lack of LGBTQ+ characters in fantasy. Setting aside arguments about “the gay agenda” and queer characters being “distracting”, which you see in any kind of fiction, one of the most common and frustrating lines that comes up when discussing fantasy is “labels such as gay, lesbian, etc. wouldn’t make sense in a fantasy world”. All this argument does, in my opinion, is betray a lack of creativity and abundance of bigotry in both the readers and the authors. Not only do these labels make sense, they’re extremely easy to add in.
Spoilers for the Circle of Magic books by Tamora Pierce and Pantomime by Laura Lam below the jump.