As a way of celebrating National Coming Out Day during LGBT History Month, I’ve selected five must-read titles that each represent unique experiences and tackle the often daunting, yet empowering act of coming out. Whether or not you identify as LGBTQ+ or have personally experienced coming out, these wonderful stories will find a way to cling to your heart.
Content Warnings: transphobia, dead-naming, homophobia, bullying, bad coming out, depressive episodes, abuse, getting kicked out of home, unaccepting parents, racism, fat-shaming, sexual harassment, use of slurs
1. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Our first story on this list follows a Black trans teen named Felix Love who’s faced with a problem: he’s never been in love. The other problem is that he becomes a target of a transphobic public display at school, which adds even more layers to his original predicament. As a trans person themself, Kacen Callender uses this novel as a great platform to highlight themes of race, gender, and queer identity all while celebrating the journey of self-discovery and self-love.
2. Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera
Rivera’s beautiful coming-of-age story centers on a born-and-raised Bronx baby, Juliet Palante, who gets into her dream internship in Portland under a well-known feminist author. The night before she takes off, Juliet comes out as a lesbian to her Puerto Rican family, who don’t take the news very lightly. No doubt, there is much to take in with topics of self-identity, and it’s clear as we see Juliet attempting to navigate the world and find her place within it.
3. They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera
If you don’t like spoilers, I definitely wouldn’t suggest looking at the title of this book. Two complete strangers share one thing in common: they are both going to die on the same day. The question is, how will they choose to live out their final moments? Aside from the fact that this would make a great Black Mirror episode, this tale has the components to break your heart and put it back together just to tear right through it again.
4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
You may or may not have heard of this title before, but either way, it would have been impossible for me not to add it to this list. The story introduces us to 15-year-old Aristotle Mendoza, and you can definitely say he’s a bit of a loner. On the other hand, we have the outspoken Dante Quintana, who Aristotle meets at their local pool. Despite their polarizing personalities, it doesn’t take long before they become inseparable. Yet, as their connection deepens, the boys must eventually uncover certain truths and come to terms with who they are.
5. I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
Ben De Backer has just come out as nonbinary to their parents; the outcome, unfortunately, results in them getting kicked out of the home. Ben is then prompted to move in with an older sister they haven’t been in contact with for over ten years and her husband, whom they haven’t met. Before you start to think this will be another sad book about the struggles of being queer, I’m here to tell you that the story evokes so much more than that. Deaver’s debut novel communicates elements of mental health, empowerment, and self-acceptance all in one story, and I think it’s definitely one you should add to your bookshelf.
I hope you enjoyed this list! For more LGBTQ+ bookish content, click here.