Mental illness and (in)visible male homosexuality in recent adolescent fiction

Mental illness and (in)visible male homosexuality in recent adolescent fiction

Ms Emma Salt-RaperZoom

Whilst the increasing visibility of non-normative sexualities in recent young adult fiction has received a range of critical attention, such novels which contain the added distinction of mental illness and recovery represent an under researched area Though the increased representation of queer characters in adolescent literature is vital to the genre, the forms of visibility these characters take within texts which feature the theme of mental illness can be problematic. This paper focuses on the way that depictions of mental illness and recovery impact upon the (in)visibility of young, male homosexual identity within adolescent literature. The paper will produce readings of two recent young adult texts which feature gay male protagonists who experience mental illness: Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not (2015) and John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behaviour (2016). These readings will uncover the texts’ embedded power structures of male gender and (in)visible homosexuality to ascertain how these structures are complicated by the fictionalisation of mental illness. The paper will track the protagonists’ recovery trajectories in relation to the visibility of their homosexual identity and will examine how the novels construct models of mental illness and recovery which at times both reveal and conceal the characters’ male, queer identities.

University of Leeds, UK
Wed 14:30 - 16:00
Gender and Sexuality, Mental Health
Standard paper