Gay college students need their own genre
Gay or straight, your life changes when you go off to college. It’s your first time truly on your own – no parents, no rigid structure of daylong classes and activities. Just you, trying to find your own way, trying to make your own decisions, trying to be an adult for the first time.
The shackles of your hometown are lifted. You’re no longer surrounded by kids who’ve known you since kindergarten. You’re not living with a past. You’re making a future. You will make terrible mistakes and amazing memories over the next four years. You can experiment however you see fit. Your friends all live a five-minute walk away. All with an end date looming before you make the leap to real real world. It’s an exciting time.
Right now, we have gay romance novels, and we have new adult novels. The former can run the gamut on age and characters, while the latter is primarily stories about straight women. There has to be a venn diagram sliver where both genres can intersect.
Because that exciting time I previously mentioned? Well, it’s extra momentous for gay teens.
College is where many people come out. It’s where they have their first experiences with other gays, either as friends, lovers, or that sticky in-between area. Social and romantic scenarios their straight counterparts experienced in high school are all new to them. They’ll mingle with their fair share of bisexual, bi-curious, pansexual, aesexual students. As transgenderedness (um, that’s a word, right?) becomes more widespread, trans students will shake things up even more. Even for those already out, they’re not used to this level of outness.
You’ve probably figured out that I’m a little biased when it comes to gay new adult. I had never met an openly gay person until I went off to college. It’s where I came out and had my first gay experiences. All awkward, of course. I was lucky to go to a liberal four-year university, which I know isn’t the case for everyone. But I believe those post-high school years are a scary, sexy, and exhilarating time, no matter how you spend it. There are so many stories that can be and need to be told from this period.
Let’s make Gay New Adult a thing.
I’m not the first author to write about gay college students, and I’m probably not the first one to use the term gay new adult, either. My hope is that gay new adult can grow to become a viable subgenre. It shouldn’t have to exist in the gray area between other, bigger genres. I believe there is an audience for these books. Like the characters we write about, Gay New Adult is just trying to stand on its own two feet.
Do you consider Gay New Adult a thing? Give it to me straight (ha) in the comments!