Pride Month Recommendations
Note: You'll notice that many of my recommendations are by/or about Black, transgender, and femme folx. This is because I have made a conscious effort to shift my focus over the last year to these groups as they are vulnerable populations. I will be adding more queer content from different perspectives as I expand my reading this year and in the future!
Seeing Gender: An Illustrated Guide to Identity and Expression
Graphic Novel/Reference Book
"Seeing Gender is an of-the-moment investigation into how we express and understand the complexities of gender today. Deeply researched and fully illustrated, this book demystifies an intensely personal—yet universal—facet of humanity. Illustrating a different concept on each spread, queer author and artist Iris Gottlieb touches on history, science, sociology, and her own experience. This book is an essential tool for understanding and contributing to a necessary cultural conversation, bringing clarity and reassurance to the sometimes confusing process of navigating ones' identity. Whether LGBTQ+, cisgender, or nonbinary, Seeing Gender is a must-read for intelligent, curious, want-to-be woke people who care about how we see and talk about gender and sexuality in the 21st century." - https://www.irisgottlieb.com/books
Themes: Clothing/Fashion, Expression, Medical Knowledge, Anti-Blackness, Incarceration, Native Residential Schools.
Note: This book does include Coco Chanel in the fashion section, but does not include that she had also been "an intelligence operative for the Nazis." However, this is a great book for anyone (including children, as long as an adult/educator helps with questions and context.)
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
"There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster—and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also uncover the truth, and the answer to the question—How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?
In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial." - https://www.akwaeke.com/pet
Themes: Social Justice, Identity, Restorative Justice, Liberation, Sexual Assault, and Denial.
Representation: LGBTQ+/Queer (Trans), BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), and Polyamory.
Note: This book is great for ages 5 and up, but should be read and discussed with an adult.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
"Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.
Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer?
Is that even possible?
Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?
With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself." - https://gabbyrivera.com/juliet-takes-a-breath/
Juliet Takes a Breath is one of my favorite queer novels for many reasons, but the main reason is how earnest Juliet is. She is trying to find and understand herself but that doesn't mean that she's too trusting of those who she seeks to learn from. Juliet is observant and that trait serves her well. This book does not expect the readers to know everything about queer culture, which can be nice for folks who are also trying to find themselves or allies.
Themes: Identity, Love, Gender Essentialism, White Feminism, Black Feminism, Womanism, Lesbianism, Open Relationships.
Representation: Latinx/Latine, Black, Diverse, LGBTQ+/Queer.
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Graphic Novel Memoir
"In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia's intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity--what it means and how to think about it--for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere." - Goodreads
The Deep and Dark Blue by Niki Smith (Fantasy - Graphic Novel *Trans Rep)
Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (Romance - Bisexual & Mental Health Rep)
Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans (Poetry - Queer Black Rep)
All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell (Anthology - Nonbinary and Queer BIPOC Rep)
Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (Fiction - Gay, Mixed Race, Drag Rep)
Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock (Autobiography - Hawaiian, BIPOC, Trans, Sex work Rep)
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus (Black Lesbian and Illness Rep)
Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann (Asexual/Ace and BIPOC - dark skin Rep)
The Queens' English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases by Chloe O. Davis
"A landmark reference guide to the LGBTQIA+ community's contributions to the English language--an intersectional, inclusive, playfully illustrated glossary featuring more than 800 terms and fabulous phrases created by and for queer culture. A landmark reference guide to the LGBTQIA+ community's contributions to the English language--an intersectional, inclusive, playfully illustrated glossary featuring more than 800 terms and fabulous phrases created by and for queer culture."
Note: If you are straight, please do not start using this "lingo." This sources is to help everyone understand the cultures within queerness, not to mimic/appropriate them.
Transgender History: The Roots of Today's Revolution by Susan Stryker
"Covering American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today, Transgender History takes a chronological approach to the subject of transgender history, with each chapter covering major movements, writings, and events. Chapters cover the transsexual and transvestite communities in the years following World War II; trans radicalism and social change, which spanned from 1966 with the publication of The Transsexual Phenomenon, and lasted through the early 1970s; the mid-'70s to 1990-the era of identity politics and the changes witnessed in trans circles through these years; and the gender issues witnessed through the '90s and '00s.
Transgender History includes informative sidebars highlighting quotes from major texts and speeches in transgender history and brief biographies of key players, plus excerpts from transgender memoirs and discussion of treatments of transgenderism in popular culture."
Note: Susan Stryker is one of the big historians on this topic. You can see her discuss LGBTQ+ history and Pride on the new documentary: Pride (on FX)
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
"Cynical twenty-three-year old August doesn't believe in much. She doesn't believe in psychics, or easily forged friendships, or finding the kind of love they make movies about. And she certainly doesn't believe her ragtag band of new roommates, her night shifts at a 24-hour pancake diner, or her daily subway commute full of electrical outages are going to change that.
But then, there's Jane. Beautiful, impossible Jane.
All hard edges with a soft smile and swoopy hair and saving August's day when she needed it most. The person August looks forward to seeing on the train every day. The one who makes her forget about the cities she lived in that never seemed to fit, and her fear of what happens when she finally graduates, and even her cold-case obsessed mother who won't quite let her go. And when August realizes her subway crush is impossible in more ways than one--namely, displaced in time from the 1970s--she thinks maybe it's time to start believing." -TheStoryGraph
This is one of my favorite books of 2021! I added it to the Intermediate section because it is best to have some knowledge of LGBTQ+ history and orientations before reading One Last Stop. Otherwise, you may need to stop to look things up while reading. If this is not an issue for you, jump right in!
Themes: Family issues, Anti-LGBTQ+ violence, Love, Chosen family, Starting over, and Belonging.
Representation: LGBTQ+, BIPOC, Drag!
Note: If you're not into detailed sex scenes, probably skip those!
The Hazards of Love Vol. 1: Bright World by Stan Stanley (Graphic Novel -Nonbinary, Latinx/Latine, BIPOC Rep)
How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective by Demita Frazier, Alicia Garza, Barbara Ransby, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Barbara Smith, Beverly Smith
"The Combahee River Collective, a group of radical black feminists, was one of the most important organizations to develop out of the anti-racist and women's liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. In this collection, founding members of the organization and contemporary activists reflect on the legacy of its contributions to black feminism and its impact on today's struggles." - TheStoryGraph
Science Fiction - Dystopian
"N. K. Jemisin challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption that sharply examine modern society in her first collection of short fiction, which includes never-before-seen stories." - https://nkjemisin.com/writing/
The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
"1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.
For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.
But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?
A beautiful and haunting tale about one woman’s fight to tell her story, The Confessions of Frannie Langton leads you through laudanum-laced dressing rooms and dark-as-night back alleys, into the enthralling heart of Georgian London."
Themes: Enslavement, Murder, Race, Romance, Power, Law.
Representation: Lesbian & Caribbean.