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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Julian Winters shares his story of impacting queer teens through his writing.

Julian Winters shares his story of impacting queer teens through his writing.

The Summer of Winters

By Kimmy Reinhardt

After years of not seeing himself represented within the stories he read in school and the tragic ending that the few stories representing him faced, Julian Winters took his passion for telling stories from writing fanfiction to writing queer young adult novels. 

Photo Courtesy: Vanessa North

While Winters, the author of “Running With Lions,” “The Summer of Everything” and his 2022 release, “Right Where I Left You” is no longer a young adult, he still sees the censorship of stories representing him, now from an author’s perspective. When asked how censorship has affected him and his writings, Winters noted how widespread the act of censoring queer stories has become.

“It’s happening so much now,” he said. “While before it was, like, localized to like a couple of states now it’s just happening across the board.” 

As Winters continued to discuss the experiences he has faced, and how censorship has changed over the years, he discussed how many view censorship; specifically, through the banned books list that has been shared through many school districts across the country. 

“But you see it also through, like, reviews, and things like that. Where you see people 

attacking…queer books and they give it like a one-star on Goodreads or something like that.”  

Accusations of “turning children gay” are found in the reviews of many queer novels.

One such commenter on an Amazon review page for fellow queer author Jason June’s novel “Too Many Dolphins,” states: “That is not ok[stet] for a children’s book, there is no reason my 7-year-old should be asking me if it’s possible for two boy dolphins to have a family. What purpose does it serve to create homosexual dolphins other than to try to make that seem ok and normal/natural?”

Even with these comments, Winters encourages those saying these things to consider what their actions are really doing. “Are you thinking about what’s great and what’s helpful in the long run for teens or are you just thinking about what makes you uncomfortable?”

Photo Courtesy Julian Winters

Despite the criticism queer stories often face, Winters knew from the time he started to share his stories what he wanted to achieve, and who he wanted to impact.

 “It’s funny, I told my editor when we were first talking about ‘Running With Lions,’ I was like, ‘I just wanna reach five queer kids that’s it. If I just get to five queer kids and let them know that they matter and that they can have great things, I’ll be okay.’” 

Today Winters’ four novels have reached a wide audience of readers, many of whom were the kids Winters originally hoped to affect. 

There are many young adults who relied on the queer representation in novels from authors like Winters. When Arden Moss, a young adult who used the representation from these stories to be more confident in their identity, was asked how reading queer fiction affected their view of themselves they responded via text with: “It’s helped me a lot with being confident. These characters and people live their lives and do all these cool things (whether fictitiously or actually); and it’s beautiful to see and reminds me how much I love being me and can do anything I want and be anything I want.”

Read More

Small Town Censorship

          ‘Be the adult you needed when you were a young person’

    Queer stories and helping young adults find themselves

  Jason’s Writing Agenda 

 

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