I love #ownvoices. It’s lovely and important and something that I want to see more of. I’m so glad that more authors are #ownvoices and that there is an easy-ish way to find the stories that features characters that are akin to the author.
However, for all that, I’m not sure that #ownvoices LGBT+ representation is exactly the best. Not because there’s anything wrong with it inherently, but because I’ve heard about readers contacting the author to find out if a story with LGBT+ rep is #ownvoices. Which means the reader is asking if the author fits under the LGBT+ umbrella.
Now some authors are out, loudly and proudly. They have their marginalized sexual/gender identity on their Goodreads page, or on their website. I am so happy for those authors because they feel comfortable enough and safe enough to come out online. And I feel like us readers should be honored by that trust.
But there are some authors that can’t safely come out – either because of their society or because of their family. Or they are just not ready to. (And might never be, and that’s okay, too.) Having #ownvoices (and especially the people that contact the author to ask if the book is #ownvoices) makes it seem like us readers are owed the author coming out. Even if they’re not ready. Even if they can’t safely. Even if they don’t want to.
Some of this entitlement also happens with non-LGBT+ #ownvoices questions as well, naturally. But it seems more prevalent in the LGBT+ side of #ownvoices. (Or maybe I just spend more time here.)
I’d also like to mention the fact that I believe sexuality is fluid. An author might have written a story that was #ownvoices at the time – but has since found another label (or no label at all). That does not invalidate the previous book being #ownvoices, but it does suitably muddy the waters.
In short: I like #ownvoices. I will probably note it if the author says the story is #ownvoices. But I will not go ask the author if they fit this marginalization or that marginalization.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in #ownvoices!
Stay tuned for next time when I will be coming at you with a list of books with F/F romance!