June is LGBT Pride Month and celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. To honor the occasion, we’ve put this together this list of essential LGBTQ reading. Whether you want to show your pride or are trying to better understand the LGBTQ journey, these books belong on your shelf!
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Baldwin’s landmark novel was one of the first to bring homosexual relationships into the literary mainstream. Baldwin himself was gay, and left the United States for Paris partially due to American attitudes towards those who are gay. Giovanni’s Room is a must-read for any student of literature or LGBTQ rights.
Stuck in the Middle With You by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Boylan’s account of her gender transition during parenthood examines the ways in which we make assumptions about gender roles and parenting. Boylan’s memoirs (this is one of two) and television appearances have helped expand the conversation about the transgender experience, and her conversational tone makes for an intimate and memorable reading experience.
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Brown’s semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of a young woman growing up gay in America. Rubyfruit Jungle was revolutionary when it came out in 1973. It is one of the earliest American lesbian novels, and it remains one of the most compelling.
Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
Scottish-American actor Alan Cumming is known for his roles on the stage and screen. What’s less widely known is that he comes from an abusive home, which made coming to terms with his bisexuality very difficult. In this witty and moving memoir, Cumming shares his journey.
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Better Nate Than Ever is a fun and engaging young adult novel. Federle’s ability to weave the journey of gay or questioning teens in with other age-appropriate issues makes the story even more relatable to pre-teen readers. The book’s sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, is also worth adding to your collection.
Maurice by E.M. Forster
E.M. Forster’s final novel is a love story about two gay men in England. The novel was published posthumously, since the author considered attitudes toward homosexuality to be too hostile for the book to be accepted in his own time. The fact that Forster considered the novel so controversial speaks volumes about the progress that LGBTQ rights have made since his era – and reminds us of the work that still needs to be done.
George by Alex Gino
Alex Gino’s children’s book is a great introduction to transgender issues for young readers. Gino’s main character, George, is a transgender girl who wants to play Charlotte in the class’ production of “Charlotte’s Web.” Her teacher won’t let her – because she’s a “boy.” But George has a plan!
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
Christopher Isherwood’s iconic gay novel tells the story of a British professor teaching at a Los Angeles university. Isherwood’s protagonist is mourning the sudden death of his partner, but the novel is ultimately a positive one. In Isherwood’s view, interactions with others illuminate our world.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – A Biomythography by Audre Lorde
Carribean-American poet, writer, and activist Audre Lorde is remembered for her strong voice and feminist ideals. In Zami, she creates a type of book so unique that she gives the form a new name: “biomythography.” Lorde’s biomythography focuses on feminism, her lesbian journey, and other interrelated issues.
Coming Out to Play by Robbie Rogers
LGBTQ rights have come a long way, but there is still a lot of work to be done – particularly in the world of sports. Soccer star Robbie Rogers hid his sexuality for years in order to protect his career. When he finally came out in 2013, the Los Angeles Galaxy star made history. His excellent book tells the story of his journey.