| By Heather Van |
I grew up in a small town with strict values. There was little room or tolerance for someone who was gay. And so my lifelong best friend, E—fabulously funny, brilliant, and slightly haunted—carried this secret with him until adulthood, when he moved away to a big city and his true life.
We spoke almost every day for 28 years—across cities, states, countries, and time zones. When I lived in China, we spoke every morning while I walked to work and he ate dinner—a 24-hour time difference never got in the way. It was the same when I was in Europe—we started and ended our workdays simultaneously over video chat. We met a couple times a year and traveled to new places, ate lots of fantastic foods, and participated in Pride parades.
Last year, E died. His feelings of shame and fear of rejection brought on social anxiety, which in turn, contributed to him feeling isolated in his circumstances. While he had a lot of support as an adult, he couldn’t get over the intense feelings of his youth. Life can be very difficult for young people who feel like they cannot be their true selves. LGBTQIA+ students often face bullying and hardships due to their gender and sexual identities.
As these issues are very dear to me, I’m proud to say that Gale has recognized them. Gale is dedicated to providing educational eBooks about and in support of the LGBTQIA+ community. Currently, Gale offers more than 70 K‒12 eBooks about LGBTQIA+ topics, such as hate and intolerance, gender identity, and health concerns. One example is Gay-Straight Alliances: Networking with Other Teens and Allies, published by Rosen. The guide empowers students to support each other. Another example is the new six-book series, The History of the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement, also from Rosen. Some of the titles in the series include Pioneers of LGBTQ+ Rights; The Gay Liberation Movement: Before and After Stonewall; and Beyond Gender Binaries: The History of Trans, Intersex, and Third-Gender Individuals. Finally, next summer Gale will release LGBTQIA+ Literature for Students, Volume 1.
These books provide excellent examples for all students to learn about, empathize with, and understand each other. They could have been a great help to E, offering empowerment, strength, and acceptance in a time of turmoil. Growing up is hard—but it doesn’t have to be. Gale eBooks can help alleviate some of that stress.