Quite a while ago, Shannon @ Typically Shannon and I talked about her doing a guest post for my blog. Obviously, it happened, but our communications were a bit confused for a while there, and her post got a tad lost (totally my fault, oops!). You’ll see very quickly when this was written. 😉 However, it’s absolutely still relevant, as Trump’s inauguration is still quite fresh in most of our minds. And I, for one, cannot wait to read this book! Aaaaaaand over to Shannon:
Only a few days ago, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. With policies against same-sex marriage, plans to get rid of the Gender Equality Act that allows transgender people to use the bathroom they feel they identify most with, and a Vice President that supports conversion therapy, the LGBTQIAP+ community are severely under threat, their sexualities and genders being made out to be unnatural. With thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people protesting day and night against Trump and his horrific ways, it is important that we too focus on the positive and beautiful aspects of the LGBT+ community, and help amplify their voices in such a tough and negative time. As this is a book blog, I decided to look into one of my favourite books that has an LGBT+ couple, Solitaire by Alice Oseman.
Solitaire follows the story of Tori Springman and Michael Holden, two teenagers that are following Solitaire, an anonymous, havoc-wreaking gang terrorising their school, all whilst balancing regular teenage life. Whilst the book mainly focuses on their friendship and Solitaire’s menacing ways, another aspect of the book focuses on Tori’s brother, Charlie, and his boyfriend, Nick.
LGBT relationships, whether it be in books or movies, are often stereotypically characterised as extremely camp, and although there is nothing wrong with this, it can often feel overdone or too similar to famous LGBT+ characters. I found it extremely refreshing when reading about Nick and Charlie, mainly because they just weren’t the same as other LGBT+ characters or couples I’d read about previously. They were very normal people with different lives, regular hobbies and a very close and sweet bond. They weren’t going all out with camp catchphrases, nor were they dressed in extremely feminine, tight-fitting clothing like the stereotypes I’d been exposed to a million times before.
Of course there is nothing weird or wrong about either of these stereotypical behaviours, but I just loved it how Oseman took a more modern and common approach to her LGBT+ characters in order to create more realistic characters that don’t necessarily fit into the stereotypes. I personally feel this is really important as so many people believe they aren’t ‘properly gay’ if they don’t fit into the personality types and appearance of the LGBT+ characters they are exposed to, which could lead to them repressing their own sexualities or being even more confused or uncertain of who they are. Oseman’s fresh and modern approach is so much better for teenagers and adults alike who are able to relate to Nick and Charlie better than the characters they see on television. Whilst Trump portrays LGBT+ people as abnormal, this book clearly shows that LGBT+ people are very much normal, regular people like anyone else and there is nothing unusual or strange about them.
Oseman’s characters are not only realistic in sexuality, but she also takes a more realistic approach to mental health. Her main character, Charlie, suffers with anxiety and depression, as well as bouts of OCD. Solitaire is perfect for anyone who is struggling with mental health issues, as the book does not romanticise these illnesses but is very straight to the point and real about it. Despite the negative associations with mental illness, Solitaire actually puts Charlie and Nick’s relationship in a very positive light, showing their strength as a couple as they help each other through Charlie’s tough mental health problems. This further puts LGBT+ relationships in a more positive light to how they are being portrayed by Trump especially, as it shows just how strong relationships can be despite hardship and struggle.
Overall, I feel Nick and Charlie’s relationship show a very positive and strong bond between two men. With the negativity surrounding the LGBT+ community at the moment, we have to remember to remember the positive impact LGBT+ people have had and continue to have on the world. Nick and Charlie’s relationship show just this, throwing the LGBT+ community into a more positive light full of strength and passion rather than abnormality.
I love Oseman’s way of creating fresh, new characters that defy expectations and push stereotypes to the side in order to let us relate further to her characters and I feel their relationship is a perfect example of why the LGBT+ community should be accepted. In the face of adversity, we have to stand united and amplify the voices of those who are being drowned in negativity, and so by having positive images of the LGBT+ community, I really feel that this creates a better idea of them rather than having a stereotype stuck in our minds. Oseman’s work creates realistic characters that mirror today’s LGBT+ community and I feel this is really important.
Shannon, thank you so much (again) for making an appearance! I hope you all enjoyed this post. If you’re interested in a guest post, shoot me an email, or just comment on this post! I’d love to have you. 🙂