Thanks to Platform’s collaboration with WRAP this year, the Platform Book Club held a “Platform Takeover”, discussing LGBTQ+ literature in celebration of LGBTQ+ history month.
Last week (Monday 15 February), Platform Editor in Chief Faith Pring, Creative Corner editor Robbie Nichols, and Platform Book Club member Scarlett Acres joined our Culture and Entertainment Editor Katie Green in a takeover of NTU WRAP’s book club.
The book club was celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month. Our writers came armed with a list of their favourite LGBTQ+ books, ranging from a gay Harry Potter inspired fantasy series, to a historical gay romance set in the early 20th century, and a book about a school doing a non-traditional version of Romeo and Juliet.
Our writers shared their thoughts on more than just their favourite books however – soon the conversation turned to LGBTQ+ representation in fiction, TV and film. Many of the books discussed were romance focused, with their story being driven by one or multiple central couples. This raised a question of whether there was the same level of representation outside of romance books.
Thoughts on LGBTQ+ representation in books was also shared by our writers, as they thought a lot it lies within the romance genre because it’s a lot easier for authors to write and pitch LGBTQ+ love stories as it gives the characters a reason to exist.
LGBTQ+ characters need no reason to exist in a story, just as heterosexual characters do not. However, romance books do create a space where LGBTQ+ can exist without someone saying “well, why is their sexuality important?” It’s important because the book is about who they love.
This isn’t to say there’s no representation of LGBTQ+ in sci-fi, fantasy and crime novels, because there is – in fact a couple were recommended by members of the book club. You just sometimes need to search a little harder because the focus isn’t the character’s sexuality.
A follow up question asked our writers what they thought of retconning representation – the act of retrospectively making characters diverse after a piece has been published (J.K. Rowling is a good example of this). For example, making Dumbledore gay and making Nagini an Asian woman who was cursed to become a snake.
Retconning isn’t inherently bad – see Dumbledore being gay – but our writers had a much simpler answer to whether retconning is good or bad – just write good and inclusive characters from the start. Simple. It gets rid of the need to retcon and makes a piece of work so much more accessible and readable.
Before the end of the book club meeting, each of our authors gave their recommendation of which of each of their books people should read first. Scarlett Acres told everyone to read Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston first. She believed that it’s the perfect book for anyone trying to break into the LGBTQ+ genre as it focuses on important themes, such as coming, but also looks at the lives of high profile celebrities. Robbie Nichols recommended The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo for its depiction of a Hollywood A-lister climbing her way to the top in the 50s. Finally, Editor in Chief Faith Pring recommended Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt, the real-life account of a couple’s journey to accept and nurture their transgender daughter.
The first Platform Takeover with WRAP was a success, and we look forward to holding many more in the future.
By Robbie Nichols
Some words from our hosts…
Faith Pring (Editor in Chief)
I really enjoyed Platform’s takeover of WRAP for LGBTQ+ history month. Not only was everyone in attendance extremely supportive and interested in what we were saying, but they asked some great questions about our book choices and gave recommendations as well. Attending an event like that which felt so inclusive and collaborative, I would recommend it to anyone. Also, walking away with a few books to add onto my to-read list is an absolute bonus! I’ll definitely be attending another WRAP workshop soon, and I’d suggest anyone with an interest in reading pops along as well. It’s a great community of people.
Robbie Nichols (Creative Corner Editor)
I really enjoyed our takeover of WRAP’s book club. It was so nice to be able to share some of my favourite books with a group of people looking for recommendations and who were passionate about reading good books in the LGBTQ+ genre. I think we managed to include a diverse range of books, that could appeal to anyone – whether they were trying to break into reading more inclusive stories or were simply wanting to read some great fiction. The discussion about LGBTQ+ representation of people in media and how often a lot of representation is retconned will change the way I consume media now. Overall, it was a great takeover and I hope we can do more events with WRAP!
Scarlett Acres (Platform Book Club Member)
The Platform takeover with WRAP was a great event to take part in and felt extremely rewarding to be able to recommend books to others. The LGBTQ+ community continues to be unrepresented, so it was great to discuss this with others, particularly the problems of the way the community is or isn’t represented. It was amazing to share my personal recommendations and to get recommendations from other members too, whilst also sharing our views on the importance of representing the LGBTQ+ community in media. It was a very fun and enjoyable event and I hope to take part in more events in the future.
Katie Green (Culture and Entertainment Editor and Organiser)
Our collaboration with WRAP this term has been a great addition to Platform. When we were offered this Platform Takeover, it was an opportunity we could not miss. The night was a success as predicted, and it is with many thanks to our Platform members that brought their recommendations to participants. Personally, it opened my eyes up to a genre I have not read before. Platform look forward to holding many more events with WRAP in the future.
If you would like to find out more about WRAP you can find it out here.
Feature image: annadoesdesign