Young adult fiction writer Patrick Ness says there’s a lack of same-sex romances in books written for teenagers.
In an interview with The i, Ness says it’s something he longed for as a teen growing up in the 1980s, but that fiction writers still shy away from describing meaningful gay relationships.
“A book with two boys being intimate, still – still! – in 2017 feels risky,” the author exclaims.
“Why should that be? Why doesn’t the 17-year-old me deserve to see himself in a book? And there are a lot of 17-year-old mes around. A lot of us.”
Ness has written a new book - Release - that explores the life of a 17-year-old gay teen in a small town who discovers love and sex with another boy.
“If you don’t talk to an LGBT teen about sex honestly and frankly and with the same lack of judgement, and with care, compassion and humour as Judy Blume does, then you’re abandoning them to porn and Grindr,” says Ness.
“How can that be any good – to the kid, to their self-image, to their relationships with people, to society?…It’s neglectful.
“Being a teenager is probably the most awake we are in our entire lives. We’re still discovering stuff, our hearts are big and open and easily bruised. Every day feels as intense as Mrs Dalloway,” the author adds.
Ness says he hopes that his book can help gay teens feel less insecure.
“That’s the kind of thing you want to tell a teenager: Worry a little bit less. There will always be somebody who thinks you’re just the bee’s knees and is really attracted to you.”