9 Inspiring LGBTQ+ Books That Defy Homophobia in the South

Who says Southern pride and LGBTQ+ pride can’t mix? These uplifting authors unveil what it means to be LGBTQ+ in the South.

LGBTQIA+ Reads Recommendations
Pride flag and book covers

It’s no secret that the South is known to be a bit more conservative in its beliefs than the rest of the U.S. However, that doesn’t mean authors will settle for alienation. Take a look into these LGBTQ+ voices in Southern literature to see how individuals in the community battle homophobia in the South.

Although the world is finally opening its arms to the LGBTQ+ community, many still face social rejection and infringement on their human rights for being different from the status quo. Here at Bookstr, we believe all voices matter, and we’re here to shine a light on powerful LGBTQ+ authors who redefine social norms, particularly in areas where other sexualities are considered taboo. If you are interested in Southern literature, here are some compelling pride books that reveal the hardships of homophobia in the South.

Shaking the Sugar Tree by Nick Wilgus

A young child's smile sits at the top with an image of a young kid with two adult males fishing on a boat. A forest landscape is to the left of them. The title is in large, black letters in the center. The author's name is above the title in large, white letters.
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Wiley Cantrell is a struggling single father who is barely making ends meet to keep food on the table. To make matters worse, he lacks companionship — that is, until he meets Jackson Ledbetter, a nurse from Boston. Two men from polar opposite cultures must find a middle ground to build a successful romance. Not only do they face negativity by being gay in the Bible Belt, but they also must confront the differences between them that keep them apart.

Falling Off the Face of the Earth by J. F. Smith

A white flower sits in the foreground against a black background. The title is in red letters at the bottom on one of the white petals. The author's name is in beige letters against a white background.
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After his career falls apart in New York, James Montgomery moves back to his hometown in Georgia. While there, he meets his old bully, trudging up the horrific memories of his childhood. Even more, his new romantic interest struggles with accepting his sexuality. Will James make peace with his life in Georgia, or will he start fresh in a new city?

Between Sinners and Saints by Marie Sexton

Between Sinners and Saints by Marie Sexton book cover
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Bartender Levi Binder and massage therapist Jaime Marshall meet in Miami, beginning a seemingly hopeful love story. However, both men are ostracized by their religious families and find themselves grappling with their trauma. To overcome their pasts, the two must learn to heal each other through patience and love.

The Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays by Julia Koets

The Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays by Julia Koets book cover
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Julia Koets tells the story of being lesbian in the South. She begins with her secret relationship with her childhood best friend and later recalls her feelings for a priest’s daughter. Koets recounts the hardships she meets as her sexuality becomes a “problem” for the Southern community, alienating her from society.

A Lesbian Belle Tells: OUTrageous Southern Stories of Family, Loss, and Love by Elizabeth McCain

A Lesbian Bell Tells by Elizabeth McCain book cover
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With a mixture of tear-jerking drama and humorous Southern charm, Elizabeth McCain voices her journey of coming out as lesbian to her conservative, religious family and falling in love with her soul mate, Marie. This collection not only displays same-sex relationships, but it also shines a light on how sexuality affects one’s life with family, friends, community, and one’s self.

Living Queer History: Remembrance and Belonging in a Southern City by Gregory Samantha Rosenthal

Living Queer History by Gregory Samantha Rosenthal
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While transitioning into a transgender woman, Gregory Samantha Rosenthal interviews forty LGBTQ+ elders to share their stories of being a member of the Pride community in the South. Rosenthal explores the history of Southern LGBTQ, showing both the progress the South has made and the obstacles that are still prevalent in the region for the community.

Something Better Than Home by Leona Beasley

Black and white background of a blurred image of a Black woman with an afro-style hairdo. The title is in the foreground in large, white letters. The author's name is at the bottom in small, black letters.
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Depicted in the post-Civil Rights era, Onnie Armstrong is a young, Black, lesbian girl who faces homophobia from her own parents. After spending a summer in San Francisco with her uncle, she is introduced to a world where homosexuality is accepted, giving her a newfound confidence to reconcile her relationship with her mother while holding on to her true self.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo book cover
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Amanda Hardy moves to a new school in Tennessee and is keeping herself closed off from making friends. Why? She is hiding the fact that she used to be a boy named Andrew. After meeting Grant, her new crush, she wonders if it might be time to reveal her true self, despite the backlash she may face in the process.

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington book cover
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Set in Houston, Texas, a young boy born to a Black mother and a Latino father discovers his own sexuality while already dealing with a bully for a brother and an absent sister. While confronting his own situation, his story is mingled with those of his surrounding community, showing how every life is connected in one way or another.

As a Southerner myself, I can assure you that the South is growing in a positive direction. Stories like these represent the struggle that it took to get this far and the history that we must remember, or it shall be repeated. Support LGBTQ+ authors by letting their voices be heard, as they have helped change this world one word at a time.


Want to read more LGBTQ+ self-discovery books? Click here.

Browse these books and more with our Hooray for Representation-LGBTQ Voices bookshelf at Bookshop.org.

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