Original Research

Exposure to queer characters in Konigsberg’s Openly Straight through social messaging

Matthys J. Uys, Salomé Romylos, Carisma Nel
Literator | Vol 42, No 1 | a1801 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v42i1.1801 | © 2021 Matthys J. Uys, Salomé Romylos, Carisma Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 March 2021 | Published: 27 August 2021

About the author(s)

Matthys J. Uys, Department of English for Education, Faculty of Education Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Salomé Romylos, Department of English for Education, Faculty of Education Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Carisma Nel, Department of English for Education, Faculty of Education Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

Research conducted by The Other Foundation has indicated that South Africans view the lives of queer individuals as lifestyle choice (34%), illness (12%), sin (5.10%), results of these individuals’ upbringing (3.80%) and/or resulting from the influence of ancestral spirits (3.70%). Advocacy and information about sexual orientation and sexual diversity through literary as characters may be instrumental in possibly changing negative perceptions of queer individuals. This article aims to show how a selected young adult queer novel, and the social messaging that emerges from the text, may be a potentially influential location for creating an awareness and better understanding of queer individuals. The aim of the investigation on which the article is based was to examine the possibility or viability of implementing critical literacy in secondary education systems in the language classroom as an opportunity to address social issues in heteronormative environments. The social messages found in queer texts may be used as entry points to fruitful discourse in language classroom environments. The study followed a qualitative approach with the use of critical hermeneutics as a strategy of inquiry and social constructivism as philosophical worldview. The queer text utilised was Openly Straight (2013) by Bill Konigsberg with the method of data generation being document analysis. The main findings were that queer texts should form part of the language classroom (as learners may read these texts critically and emphatically) and that Bill Konigsberg’s Openly Straight contained social messages that can contribute to positive influences on queer- and heterosexual readers.

Keywords

critical literacy; social messaging; language classroom; classroom discourse; queer individuals; openly straight; Bill Konigsberg

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