Gay Teens in YA Books with Calum McSwiggan

It’s a BONUS episode of Doing It! where Hannah joins writer, digital content creator & LGBT+ advocate Calum McSwiggan for a book chat . They share their thoughts on the book Jack of Hearts (& Other Parts), which Calum read for Penguin’s LGBT+ book club. Exploring sex education and how sex is represented in YA, they ask: “Where else do young people get depictions of sex?” They also look at a nuanced vision of homophobia, talking about prejudice within the LGBT+ community itself. Finally, they discuss their uncomfortable reading about Jack’s first time having anal sex – was this as consensual as Jack seems to say it is? Do we look back when we’re older on ‘bad sex’ and reframe that experience?

SHOW NOTES

What we chatted about…

  • The LGBT+ YA book Jack of Hearts (& Other Parts), including the wokeness of Jack’s advice, the reveal of Pinky, why Jack didn’t tell people he was getting the letters, and Jack’s relationship with his mum.

  • Sex in the book vs real life -- do teens have that much sex?!

  • The availability of sex education, and where we get that sex education.

  • Considering the man's feelings in sex.

  • A nuanced vision of homophobia -- fetishising gay men, respectability politics, self-policing with in the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Coming out at school, looking at then vs now - is the amount of out LGBT+ characters portrayed in Jack of Hearts reflective of school now?

  • The book Simon vs the Homo Sapien’s Agenda, and chatting comparisons between this book and Jack of Hearts.

  • Representations of sex in YA, and how these representations may be changing, with there being positives of having more graphic descriptions of sex between LGBT+ people in YA.

  • Distinguishing bad sex from non-consensual sex, and how do we look back on ‘bad sex’ experiences.

  • Gay teens and cruising spots, discussing why gay teens may end up having their first sexual experiences with an older guy.

  • Penguin LGBT Book Club and how you can get involved!

Useful Links…

More about Calum McSwiggan

Calum is a writer, digital content creator, radio presenter & LGBT+ advocate. He celebrates LGBT+ culture, with his work championing LGBT+ representation in film, literature, music, fashion, and travel.

Find out more about Calum on his website, Twitter, Instagram, or his FUBAR Radio show.

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