I was in Word Bookstores the other day to price the next novel in the series that I’m reading and noticed they had an endcap dedicated completely to LGBT authors and books. It brought up the same internal (and sometimes external) debate I’ve had for awhile now.
I’ve thought a lot about how to shelve LGBT books–whether to give them their own section or just integrate them in with all the other books. And I think I’ve finally come to a decision on that.
While I agree that there should be an even 50/50 split of books (gay vs straight) in every book store, I think my final position in this matter is that I prefer LGBT books to have their own section. Just because it makes them easier to find.
As a teen who was questioning her sexuality I would comb the shelves for LGBT books and come away empty handed. That is until I found the LGBT section. Then I had books galore to read (though admittedly a lot of them at the time were porn, which I didn’t really want). Even these days it can be hard to find a book with a lesbian MC in the store unless you know authors to look for. But if you’re looking for a book with a queer character for the first time it can be really daunting and very disheartening. My search when I was a teen led me to believe LGBT books just didn’t exist and that saddened me.
So I think until a time comes that we truly have a 50/50 split of straight and queer literature, it’s better to have a section where LGBT books are prominently displayed. (Note that I say prominently. I don’t mean some dark corner of the bookstore.) As bookstores often stock more than one copy of a book–especially more popular books–it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if they put one of those copies on the shelves with the straight fiction.
What are your thoughts on this issue?