Unproud Feelings; Negative Affects and their Unruly Pedagogies in 1960s to 1980s LGBT YA Novels
Stebbins, Anne Elizabeth
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In this dissertation, I explore negative affects including shame and betrayal in gay themed young adult novels published between 1969-1982 in North America and the United Kingdom. I suggest that these early novels illustrate a darker and more realistic version of what life was and still is like for some LGBTQ youth. In contrast to modern campaigns such as the “It Gets Better Project,” which promise eventual acceptance and success for unhappy young queers, these early novels do not offer messages of hope and futurity. Instead, novels such as Isabelle Holland’s The Man Without a Face (1979) and Jane Futcher’s Crush (1982) narrate the ways in which same-sex sexuality has historically been associated with negative outcomes such as shame, betrayal, social isolation, and death. I suggest that these novels have pedagogical value in that they remind us that denying the significance of negative feelings and experiences only tells queer youth that happiness and pride are the only acceptable emotions to feel. I offer an in-depth investigation of shame and betrayal and argue that gay and lesbian life, past and present, is not free of these negative emotions and experiences. Part of the project of cultivating a supportive world for queer youth is to make room for and value the bad feelings and experiences that are part of living a queer life. Further, by recognizing the negative inheritances of our past, youth and those of us who teach these youth can work together to live through the complicated narratives that are, and story making that is, intrinsic to everyday life.