It’s hard to find ourselves in books.
It’s a real challenge to look, scour for some Latine representation that doesn’t fall into stereotyping; and, it’s hard to find any good queer Latine representation. Trust me, I’ve looked.
In a 2017 CCBC study, it showed that out of 136 queer books less than half were actually written by someone from the LBGTQ+ community. Out of every 100 romance books only 7% were written by people of color. And, whoo knows what that looks like today or in different genres because no one is talking about it. No one is talking about or researching the percentage of queer Latine authors writting for queer Latine youth. That makes me feel alone. Disempowered by the status of things as a queer Latine writer and member of this very complex, intersected identity.
Most protagonists in books today assume the role of maintaining this false idea that our identities don’t exist, that the Latine queer population could just be silenced into erasure. That’s what makes books like “They Both Die at the End” so monumental. Its author Adam Silvera is the person behind the book and someone to watch out for this weekend at the L.A. Times Festival of Books.
Born in New York, Silvera is Latino and gay. He became a writer, writing about books that have characters with queer and brown identities in a new nuanced way. His three dimensionality in how he characterizes queerness with normality or the baseline makes any other less representative characters just seem silly.
In this novel, “They Both Die at the End” two boys who are Puerto Rican and Cuban American who were also queer on their own terms. Mateo, one of the protagonists, never explicitly defines his queerness which is such a valid and occurring reality for a lot of queer people. Rufus’s bisexuality is explicit and empowered. Also a valid reality. Both are Latine kids, both have storylines outside of their identity but not ignoring the intersections of it. This should be the norm.
Why can’t queerness and brownness coexist as a given, accepted, and empowered identity?
Silvera’s characters center dimensionality over meeting the check marks of diversity and handle these identities, which he holds himself, with so much care and compassion.
It will be interesting to see how Adam Silvera, best-selling author of “More Happy Than Not” “History Is All You Left Me”, “They Both Die at the End” and others, will continue to center our storylines.
Silvera is set to talk about young adult fiction: sexuality, friendship and queer romance at the YA Stage. The talk is Saturday, April 22 at 4:40 p.m..