It’s time to raise those rainbow flags, because Pride Month is almost here. Whether you’re a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, or a loyal ally, there are plenty of ways to celebrate this time of year, or just to celebrate the beauty of diversity in general. You can march at your local Pride Parade, be at the frontlines of the fight for LGBTQ+ rights (a.k.a. human!! rights!!!), or do something as simple as enjoy a great book.
Reading about queer narratives is a way to understand different experiences within the community, and is a learning opportunity for literally E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E on the gender spectrum, and even those who are non-gender conforming. Here are some of the best LGBTQ+ books you need to add to your reading list.
Call Me By Your Name
This book-turned-film (featuring everyone’s fave, Timothée Chalamet) is a beautiful love story centered around the blossoming relationship between young Elio and his father’s graduate student assistant, Oliver. With the northern Italian countryside as a backdrop to their summer romance, it’s hard not to feel the butterflies. But beyond being a love story, this novel is also a coming-of-age of sorts, with Elio discovering more about his sexuality.
The Color Purple
The Color Purple is a classic. Told through a series of painfully honest letters, the story follows Celie, a woman who lives in poverty and has experienced physical and sexual abuse at the hand of her father, and later her husband. The powerful novel not only talks about the struggle of African American women, but also explores female sexuality, and the strength of the bonds between women in all kinds of relationships.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
In poetic prose, Ocean Vuong writes a letter to his mother who cannot read. He paints a portrait of his family with roots in Vietnam and war, talks through his feelings about being the son of Vietnamese immigrants, and shares intimate stories about his first love and heartbreaking losses.
Red, White & Royal Blue
With his mother as President of the United States of America, Alex Claremont-Diaz also becomes a notable public figure. But with all eyes on him, his feud and physical altercation with British Prince Henry becomes a scandal that doesn’t exactly bode well for their countries’ relations. Both parties settle on a staged truce, which unfolds as an Instagrammable friendship, if you will. Until it gets way more intimate than that.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Sixteen-year-old Simon Spier hasn’t told any of his friends or family that he’s gay. But once he finds someone else on his high school’s confession website who also identifies as gay—an anonymous person under the codename Blue—he decides to email them under the guise Jacques. He unexpectedly falls in love with someone he’s never met, but also risks being outed when his e-mails get into the wrong hands.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
After her parents die in a car crash, Cameron Post is forced to move in with her conservative aunt and grandmother who live in Miles City, Montana. She unexpectedly forms an intimate friendship with Coley Talor, which Cam hopes will turn into something more. But when Aunt Ruth finds out about Cam’s secret, she attempts to “fix” her by sending her to a “treatment center.”
Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story
This deeply personal memoir tells the story of Jacob Tobia, who since they were a child raised in North Carolina identified both with their masculine and feminine side. Their femininity led people to label them a “sissy,” a term Jacob reclaimed as a source of pride rather than shame. The book (which will soon be turned into a television series) sends a powerful message about coming-of-age, trauma, healing, and self-acceptance.
Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family
Garrard Conley grew up as the son of a Baptist pastor in a small town in Arkansas. At 19 years old, his family discovered he was conflicted about his sexuality, and entered him into an institutionalized program. Garrard emerges from the torturous journey stronger, and more determined than ever to search for his true self.
Middlesex tells the story of Calliope Helen Stephanides and the journey of the Greek-American Stephanides bloodline—from a tiny Greek village with a view of Mount Olympus to suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Calliope explores her family history and unearths her kin’s secrets in order to ultimately discover what set her apart from other girls, and turned her from Callie to Cal.
This Is How It Always Is
When Claude tells his family that he wants to be a girl, his parents support his dreams, but try to protect him from the rest of the world by keeping it all a secret. Of course, this “secret” was never meant to be hidden forever.
Author Arthur Less is approaching his 50th birthday when he decides to go on a literary tour to avoid attending the wedding of his ex-boyfriend Freddy, who he dated for 15 years. While he travels from country to country, he encounters new people, new obstacles, and experiences that trigger old memories, and ultimately he turns the trip into a quest for true love.
When Katie Met Cassidy
This romantic comedy follows 28-year-old Kentucky-raised Katie Daniels, who has just been dumped by her art curator fiancé. She agrees to get drinks with self-assured native New Yorker Cassidy Price, whom she met at work. They form a solid friendship that makes Katie begin to question everything she thought she knew about sex and relationships.
Juliet Takes a Breath
Juliet Milagros Palante decides to come out to her Puerto Rican family the night before she flies to Portland, Oregon for an internship with her favorite female author, Harlowe Brisbane. Her coming out is a disaster, and she isn’t sure her mother will ever speak to her again. She tries to figure things out, and seeks the advice of Harlowe, thinking that she’d know what to do as a feminist authority. But she soon discovers that her idol doesn’t have all the answers, she has to figure it out on her own.
Kafka on the Shore
Kafka Tamura is a 15-year-old boy who decides to flee his home in Tokyo for the seaside city of Takamatsu because of his father’s abusive behavior. Before he leaves, his father curses him to an oedipal fate, telling him that he will murder his father, and have sex with his mother and sister. His path eventually leads him to a mysterious old man named Nakata, who is drawn to Kafka for reasons he doesn’t understand.
Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
It’s 1993. Paul Polydoris is a queer theory student by day, and a bartender at his university’s only gay bar by night. He’s also a shapeshifter, meaning he can morph his body and gender as he pleases. He crosses the country on a journey to find love and pleasure, encountering struggles along the way.
Late to the Party
Codi Teller is a 17-year-old who spends the majority of her time watching Netflix in the basement with her best friends, Martiza and JaKory…until they decide to crash a very ~cool~ party. Codi is super skeptical, because she’s not sure she’ll fit in with the straight kids, until she spots a guy named Ricky kissing another dude in the dark. Codi and Ricky base a whole new friendship off the secret, and he ends up being the key to an amazing summer.
Only Mostly Devastated: A Novel
This modern-day Grease tells the story of young Ollie, who has a blissful summer fling with the dreamy Will Tavares. But when summer ends, Will stops replying to his texts. As fate would have it, the two meet each other again after a family emergency forces Ollie to move across the country and enroll in a new school — Will’s school, Collinswood High. But he soon discovers that his Prince Charming isn’t who he thought he was.
Jasmine is a journalist struggling to adult by day…