Oz GLBT YA books (updated)

David Levithan’s speech at Reading Matters inspired me to put together a list of Australian gay and lesbian young adult books.

I could not do this on my own. Thank you Lynndy Bennett, Kate Constable, Susannah Chambers, Pamela Freeman, Simmone Howell, Judith Ridge, Penni Russon and Ron Serdiuk for all your help and suggestions.

This list is definitely not complete and is not annotated. It’s just a start. If you can think of any more titles, please let me know! And if you’ve read any of the books on the list and can say a bit more about them that’d be great too.

Lili Wilkinson has said that the Centre for Youth Literature will give the list a permanent home.

So here it is:


    Will by Maria Boyd 2006
    Settling Storms by Charlotte Calder 2000
    The Rage of Sheep by Michelle Cooper 2007 (It will be released in August—so soon that I figured no need to stick it in the forthcoming list.)
    The Tiger Project by Susanna van Essen 2003
    A Trick of the Light by Susanna van Essen 2004 (Lili Wilkinson says “two dads”.)
    The Other Madonna by Scot Gardner 2003
    White Ute Dreaming by Scot Gardner 2002
    Square Pegs by Nette Hilton 1991
    Out of the Shadows by Sue Hines 1998 (Lynndy Bennett says, “From memory—it’s years since I read this—it is not the teenage characters but some of the parents who are gay or lesbian.” Update: I’ve now heard from a few people that there are gay teenagers as well.)
    A Charm of Powerful Trouble by Joanne Horniman 2002
    Obsession by Julia Lawrinson 2001
    Suburban Freak Show by Julia Lawrinson 2006
    Tumble Turn by Doug Macleod 2003 (Lynndy says “there is the assumption the protagonist is gay”.)
    Hot Hits: The Remix by Bernie Monagle 2003
    Thriller and Me by Merrilee Moss 1994 (Lynndy says, “From memory—it’s years since I read the book–it is not the teenage characters but some of the parents who are gay or lesbian.)
    Mr Enigmatic by Jenny Pausacker 1995
    What are ya? by Jenny Pausacker 1987
    Sky Legs by Irini Savvides 2003
    A Candle for St Antony by Eleanor Spence 1977 (Penni Russon says “a friend said it was a memorable book about an intimate relationship between two boys, though I think the homosexuality is very understated. It’s more about love than sex, I think the boys actually tell each other that they love each other and then kind of have to deal with the intensity of their emotions in the face of their peer groups.”)
    Peter by Kate Walker 1991
    Camphor Laurel by Sarah Walker 1999
    The Year of Freaking Out 1997 by Sarah Walker
    Loose Lips by Chris Wheat 1998

    Forthcoming novels
    Truly Mackenzie by Kate Constable 2008

    Clouded Edges by Nette Hilton 1997


    Ready or Not: Stories of YA Sexuality edited by Mark MacLeod 1996
    Hide and Seek edited by Jenny Pausacker 1996


    Holding the Man by Tim Conigrave 1995 (Penni Russon says “it wasn’t published as YA, it’s also not strictly fiction I think. But it is about two young men (a lot of it is about the relationship they have at school) and it’s such a beautiful beautiful weepy wonderful book.”)

    Inside Out: Australian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered People Write About Their Lives edited by Erin Shale 1999


  1. Lawrence Schimel on #

    If you’re open to other Oceania authors, there’s also New Zealander Jerome Taylor’s THE BLUE LAWN and JEROME.

    I think you’re also missing at least one Pausacker novel (when I was visiting in 99 I bought a copy of her entry in a YA series, that had lesbian content, but it’s back in NYC and I’m blanking on the title just now…)

  2. Lawrence Schimel on #

    Also, there’s an anthology titled INSIDE OUT, which is an Australian collection of coming out stories; not YA-specific nor ficiton, but relevant and of interest, I think.

  3. simmone on #

    also sarah walker’s ‘the year of freaking out’ … god. there must be more. surely.

  4. Justine on #

    Lawrence: Thanks! Have added the antho. Can’t find another Pausacker, but I’m sure someone will know.

    I’m not including anyone but Australians. Poor New Zealanders are always being lumped in with us as if we were all exactly the same. I’ve now seen three reviews of Elizabeth Knox that assume she’s Australian. Very rude.

    Simmone: Ta. Added the Walker—which is sadly out of print. I’m sure there’s more, too. Hopefully there’ll be linkage and more folks will chime in with more titles.

  5. Angie on #

    Sky Legs by Irini Savvides
    and should you wish to make it a Oz/NZ list, there’s
    50 Ways of Saying Fabulous by Graeme Aitken

  6. Elisabeth on #

    What a fantastic project! I am woefully unversed in Australian YA fic (and now I have a whole bunch of new authors to try to track down), but have decided to try the same sort of thing with Canadian GLBT YA books.

  7. Justine on #

    Elizabeth: That’s great! So pleased this is spreading.

  8. Kirsty M. on #

    I haven’t read all the titles on the list but I think it’s drawing a long bow to include books that have very peripheral gay characters or ones that subtly infer that a character may be homosexual. Doesn’t that perpetuate the problem that gay characters are rarely the hero of the stories? Padding out the list with books like ‘A Candle for St Anthony’can actually feed homophobia. Surely we need books that are honest and upfront, not obtuse, about gay youth.

  9. Ika on #

    Jenny Pausacker’s awesome and heinously overlooked Dancing on Knives should be on there too.

    I’d disagree strongly that with kirsty m about not including books with peripheral gay characters on the list. To me a problem with queer YA lit is that being GAY is too often the central “problem” in a character’s arc (I have a whole riff about how this actually single-handedly delayed my coming out by about ten years). Having gay characters whose role in the narrative is not “to be gay omg how will they deal with this terrible burden???” is a huge step forward in YA lit – and that means, among other things, more peripheral gay characters.

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