LGBT+ reps in Alice Oseman’s novels
After the success of Heartstopper on Netflix, Alice Oseman is hailed as a LGBT+ icon here in the UK
After the success of Heartstopper on Netflix (when will Season 2 arrive?!), Alice Oseman is hailed as a LGBT+ icon here in the UK. In particular, Heartstopper has great bisexuality representation, and an incredibly heartwarming coming out scene. Given that last time we discussed all her book covers, today let’s find out what LGBT+ reps there are in her novels.
In case you are unfamiliar with Alice Oseman’s novels, she has already posted the order to read them on her site (spoiler alert: no specific orders; they basically read like standalones). However, there has been less discussion around the LGBT+ reps in her books, except for the tweet below. So, read on for more information:
Solitaire features Nick and Charlie (so gay and bi characters), Radio Silence features bi, gay, and demisexual characters, I Was Born for This features gay, bi, and trans characters! None of those books are 'about' being LGBTQ+, though.
— Alice Oseman Updates (@AliceOseman) April 9, 2020
Turning first to her novellas, This Winter and Nick and Charlie, these two are spin-off short stories set in the Heartstopper universe. We aren’t introduced any new characters, but we have the usual gang. Hence, we have Nick, a gay character, Charlie, a bi character, and a brief mention of Elle in Nick and Charlie, a trans character, and Aled, whom we will discuss later (AND IF YOU DON’T RECOGNISE ALED — READ THE GRAPHIC NOVELS; DON’T JUST WATCH THE SHOW). However, these stories are not about LGBT+ experiences, but simply stories of the daily life.
Turning to the standalone novels, we have Solitaire, which is again set in the Heartstopper universe. This time, the story centres around Tori, Charlie’s sister and her constant urge to push people away and destroy friendships. Again, this is not a story about LGBT+ experiences, but features Nick and Charlie.
Next on our list is Radio Silence, which is also set in the Heartstopper universe but focuses on Aled and a new character called Frances instead. The book is pretty heavy and has in-depth depiction of depression. Discussing making and losing friends, and the stress that comes from university applications, Radio Silence is an emotional read. Aside from these main themes, there are also brief discussions about bisexuality, coming out in an all-boys school, and demisexuality:
And some people just feel like they’re … like … partly asexual, so …they only feel sexually attracted to people who they know really, really well. People they have, like, an emotional connection with.
Moving on, we have I Was Born for This, which is a story centering around Jimmy Kaga-Ricci, the lead singer and frontman of The Ark, and Angel Rahimi, a die-hard fan of the band. The book is mainly about the relationship between artists and their fandom, but there is some discussions about the LGBT+ experiences, which, given The Ark is a famous boy band here, is more extreme than in Heartstopper where the story is set in a sixth form. For example, Jimmy, being trans, got too much media attention, and another band member, being bisexual, has this outburst:
I know you all think I’m a druggie bisexual slut, […] the classic bisexual stereotype. Just because I like more than one gender, that opens up my dating options, and consequently I sleep with everyone on sight.
Finally, we have Loveless, which is an incredible book for aro ace representation. Georgia doesn’t know much about LGBT+ when she first enters university and it is not until she randomly joins the Pride Society on campus that she learns about asexuality. Hence, there is a lot of discussion around the definition of aro ace spectrum. It’s not all about definitions in the book though, as we also have light-hearted moments like this:
‘But why are, like, most teen movies focused around the fact that teenagers feel like they’re going to die if they don’t lose their virginity?’ I asked, then almost immediately figured out what the answer was. ‘Oh. This is an asexual thing.’ I laughed at myself. ‘I forgot other people are obsessed with having sex. Wow. That’s really funny.’