Thursday, May 12, 2016

My Gay Agenda

So The War That Saved My Life just got its first one-star review on Amazon. The reviewer thought my book was relentlessly depressing, thought no mothers are really as evil as Mam, and felt that descriptions of child abuse should not be read by children. Then she [it's clear from the writing the review is an adult woman who homeschools her children] says, " Just when I thought this book couldn't get any worse, a central character turns out to be a lesbian. Could you be any more cliché??? I absolutely hate it when authors use children's books as a way to push their views on sexuality."

I've already discussed why I chose to make Susan Smith gay, and why I didn't discuss her homosexuality more openly in the book. I don't know how to cite my own blog, but the post is titled "A Touch on Lesbianism."

I'm trying to figure out how having a gay character is a cliche. Can't, quite, but I'd welcome opinions.

Mostly I've been thinking about the last sentence: an author using children's books as a way to push their views on sexuality. At first I thought, no, I wasn't doing that. I was just writing the best book I possibly could.

Then I thought, of course I was doing that. The  reviewer might really hate my views on sexuality. Here they are:

1) Our sexuality--the people to whom we're sexually attracted--is inborn.
2) Our gender identity--whether we see ourselves as male or female--is inborn.

You can argue this all you like. I don't care. I've read up a bit on the current science of it, because I find it interesting. I also know that there was never a moment when I myself made a choice to be cis-gender or straight. I was born this way.


3) Being gay/straight, cis/trans, not a pedophile/a pedophile, evil/virtuous, Christian/atheist/Muslim/whatever are all things that run on separate axes. They are not tied to each other. A gay person is not necessarily evil. A straight person is not necessarily a pedophile.

4) There have always been gay and transgender humans across every human society. Their number as a percentage of the population does not seem to be increasing anywhere.

5) Just as people of color are underrepresented in current children's books, so are gay people, transgender people, and people with disabilities.

6) This is a disservice to our children, who need books that reflect their reality.

7) My main goals as an author are to write books children want to read and to write books that tell the truth.

8) Demonizing people we disagree with is not useful.

9) Not even if they give me one-star reviews.

10) Susan Smith is the fullest adult character I have ever created. She's the farthest thing on earth from a cliche.


  1. I agree 100 percent. I have neglected to leave a review on Amazon, but will remedy that.

  2. You had me at "homeschools her children."

    Okay, that is probably unfair to some people who homeschool their children, but if she can toss around the word cliche... She is a bit of a cliche.
    Many people homeschool their children in order to protect them from the real world. Maybe if she keeps her child illiterate, she can continue to be the child's only perspective for another few years.

    (I'd love to homeschool my own children, but I teach in the real world all day, so I don't have that option. But my reasons would have nothing to do with protecting them from reality; I'd want the opportunity to expose my children to much more of the real world... more than is possible in one room for 180 days a year.)

    I loved "My Gay Agenda" - very thoughtful!

  3. Jennifer Davis-KayMay 28, 2016 at 10:47 AM

    Kimberly, I just read your book and ADORED it. I thought your treatment of Susan Smith's sexuality was so graceful and deft. And what a lovely closing to this post. Yes, even one-star reviewers are people too, as maddening as we may find them. You are a class act.

    And now I'm going to go reserve everything else you've ever written -- I've already pushed "The War that Saved My Life" into my daughter's hands!


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