Pride Month may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t celebrating now and year-round! Pride, after all, is about more than the plastic whistles thrown off parade floats slapped with the labels of various corporations. It’s not [insert alcohol company here] that we love; it’s both the celebration and the space to celebrate.
Before we dive into this list, let’s cover all the bases of bisexuality. (No, I don’t mean the same ‘base system’ you probably learned at a middle school sleepover.) First, bisexuality does not necessarily mean attraction to ONLY men and women. Instead, it means attraction to more than one sex or gender—and it doesn’t exclude non-binary people. Second, while bisexuality and other non-monosexual identities, like pansexuality and omnisexuality, may overlap, it’s still insensitive to tell someone that they’re ‘basically pan’ if that isn’t how they identify. Some people see these terms as essentially interchangeable; others feel the distinction is valuable.
Lastly, “bisexual” is a catch-all term to incorporate a wide range of identities. While many bi+ people are both bisexual and biromantic, others may fall on the asexual & aromantic spectrum. Since “bisexual” is the most common and widely-understood term for the bi+ experience, it’s a convenient term for discussing people who experience attraction to multiple genders—but it doesn’t exclude other experiences under the bi+ umbrella.
Ready? Let’s check out these UN-BI-LIEVABLE reads!
Remember what we were just saying about bisexuality being inclusive of non-binary genders? I Wish You All the Best follows Ben (who is both non-binary and bisexual) and Nathan (their bisexual love interest). When Ben tells their family that they’re non-binary, they’re forced to move in with their estranged sister or face homelessness. Dealing with anxiety and an unsupportive family, Ben is able to find love and acceptance in its most important form—the kind you give yourself. While many authors now prefer to shy away from coming-out narratives to focus on queer stories that DON’T revolve around gender & sexuality, the non-binary coming out story is almost entirely unprecedented in books and pop-culture… as is the reminder that bisexuals can be non-binary and love non-binary people!
It’s rare to see any media that makes a distinction between romantic and sexual orientation. Since many people have the same romantic and sexual orientation, they may never realize that there can be a difference. Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love is the absolutely adorable story of Alice, a biromantic asexual girl struggling with her college major… and her feelings for Takumi, her cutest coworker at the library. The novel depicts Alice reeling from a breakup with an ex-girlfriend and struggling to cope with her feelings for a male coworker, proving that she isn’t, as the rhetoric commonly goes, ‘choosing sides.’
Anyone who’s ever made the mistake of deep-diving into a YouTube or Facebook comments section has seen a lot of the same negative rhetoric: largely, false accusations that all this ‘gay stuff’ is a development of the past ten years, something done from a desire to gain social media followers rather than, you know, live. This hilarious-yet-poignant historical fiction follows Henry Montague, a bisexual British lord; his aro-ace little sister, Felicity; and his gay best friend, Percy on a caper-filled romp across Europe featuring piracy and a lot of alcohol. Of course, Percy might ALSO be the love of his life… which would be the biggest complication if there weren’t a deranged duke desperately trying to kill them. The novel inserts LGBT+ characters into a historical setting from which they’ve often been erased, and it brings a lot of laughs and heartfelt moments along the way.
Here’s another fact about bisexuals: a bisexual girl dating a man is just as bisexual as she would be dating another woman. This gorgeous, Odyssey-inspired epic follows Pen (bisexual) and Hex (a bisexual trans man) as they approach the outer limits of the romantic relationship they’re clearly hurtling towards. Both feel the need to come out to the other but are afraid to broach the topic of sexuality and gender for fear of driving the other away. Pen’s assertions that her sexuality is real despite not being currently involved with a girl are powerful for any bi reader—and her dreamlike journey through flooded Los Angeles to save her friends from flesh-devouring giants is sure to wow just about anyone, bi or otherwise.
It would be easy to assume that teen pregnancy drama is all played out, but this isn’t an after-school special. Most pregnancy storylines are overwhelmingly heteronormative, and many coming-out moments on TV come with a parental sigh of relief. At least I don’t have to worry about you getting pregnant. But many LGBT+ people can and will become pregnant—and that doesn’t mean their identity is less valid. Belly Up follows bisexual Latinx teen Sara, whose pregnancy is more Juno than Degrassi. With her support system, her demisexual love interest, and her Ivy League dreams, she handles being the new girl in school—the pregnant new girl—with humor and grace.
You might think that demisexual Aled Last and bisexual Frances Janvier are going to fall in love. He’s the anonymous mind behind Radio Silence, Frances’ favorite science-fiction podcast. She’s his biggest fan—and soon, she’ll become his co-contributor. But their relationship is more complicated than that: Aled is also brother to Carys Last, Frances’ best friend who ran away from home when they were younger. Frances has never forgotten Carys… and she’s never forgotten the way that Carys made her feel. If this is a love story, it’s a story of deep love between friends as they struggle to navigate academic and personal pressure. The novel may deal with issues of sexuality and depression, but it still crackles with the raw joy of caring for another person, like a sparkler waved in a dark summertime field.
In case you’ve somehow missed out, Adam Silvera is one of the most popular LGBT+ authors in YA fiction today. If you’ve never checked him out, here’s the sign you’ve been looking for. This inventive dystopian novel follows two queer boys of color, one gay and one bisexual, as they open up and fall in love over the course of a day. What could go wrong? Well, they both die at the end. Death-Cast is an organization that lets people know when they’re going to die so that they can live their last day accordingly. With the help of an app called Last Friend, Rufus and Mateo connect for their last chance to imbue their lives with meaning. The novel is a powerful exploration of the role of vulnerability and openness in our lives—and that we need both to live fully.
The reality is that coming out can be dangerous—but staying out can be dangerous, too. When out bisexual Tanner moves to Utah, he feels the need to re-closet himself to stay safe in the predominantly-Mormon community. When his last semester of high school ends, he’ll be able to leave Utah and this will all be. Except it’s not over yet: just months from graduation, Tanner meets a boy in his creative writing class. A prodigy with a novel already sold for publication. A devout Mormon. The novel explores the distinction between being comfortable with your identity and feeling safe in the world… and every reader loves a book about books.
Most people already know about Magnus Bane, bisexual warlock, fan-favorite, and early example of LGBT+ representation in YA. But fewer people know about Cassandra Clare’s bisexual representation throughout the canon. In her third trilogy, The Dark Artifices, Clare gives us the bisexual drama we’ve been craving since we read Twilight and realized that a TRUE love triangle needs at least one bisexual in it. Clare gives us more than one: there’s Mark, an odd Shadowhunter boy who’s been living with the Fair Folk; Kieran, a noble fey (also Mark’s ex-boyfriend); and Christina, a strong and empathetic Shadowhunter warrior. It starts off simply enough: Mark falls for Christina. Then Kieran comes back and complicates Mark’s feelings. Then Kieran and Christina get close. Then you go out and buy the book.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
The Last 8 by Laura Pohl
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
The Disasters by M.K. England
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Why are such incredible books in the honorable mentions? Well, because I talk about them too much in other articles! For more LGBT+ book recommendations, check out my list of recent LGBT+ releases, YA LGBT+ genre fiction, and banned LGBT+ classics. You can also check out my feature of LGBT+ YA writers from the Read With Pride panel at BookCon 2019.
All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via Adagio.com.