Love is never easy, but we all deserve to love and be loved in return no matter how we identify ourselves and who we choose to love. Sorry, there was a lot of “love” in that sentence, but what the world needs now is just that, and on this National Coming Out Day let’s spread the sentiment to everyone—lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and everyone else a part of the rainbow flag.
Image via gyfcat
In honor of National Coming Out Day, let’s celebrate these stories that remind us all to be ourselves and love who we love.
A historical classic in Gay and Queer literature, this story follows a young man coming to terms with his homosexuality in 1950s Paris. Published in a time when homosexuality was not accepted in society and even considered a mental illness, Baldwin’s book about sexuality and acceptance was groundbreaking and meant the world to thousands upon thousands of LGBT people, especially for gay men.
Focused on two ex-boyfriends trying to make a new Guinness record—making out for a 32-hour marathon—this optimistic tale centers around universal questions of love, identity, and belonging that our teenaged characters struggle with. An unconventional read, Two Boys Kissing will leave you with bliss and hope that love will find a way.
Leila is trying to make it through and fit in at her high school, and struggling to accept her Iranian-American descent when she is at school is tough enough, but she is hiding the fact that she is also gay. Everything goes according to plan until the beautiful new girl Saskia shows up. Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, including coming out to one of her best friends about her feeling for Saskia. Finally coming out, Leila learns that every one of her classmates are keeping secrets of their own.
With parents who love her deeply, beauty and wit that makes all the ladies swoon, Molly Bolt is paving her own life the way she wants it. This inspiring coming-of-age tale teaches us to be true to ourselves and, against the odds, strive for a happily ever after.
To Peter Huang’s parents, he is the exalted son in a sea of daughters, expected to portray the ideal masculine man, but there’s an issue with that, aside from toxic masculinity—Peter does not identify with being a boy. While his sisters find their own way in life, Peter knows that freedom will not as easy for him. However, with their help, and the help of many he finds along the way, Peter works towards changing his life so he can finally feel comfortable in his own skin.
This biographical novel follows the real-life struggle of Jess Goldberg. With the rigorous gender pressures of society, Jess questions her identity her entire life, trying to find where she fits in and where she can survive.
Let’s be honest, not everyone was excited for prom. The same can be said for non-binary high schooler Sam, who wants nothing to do with it. If it weren’t for her best friend Tash, who has been dreaming about the perfect, romantic prom night, Sam would never consider going. After finding the perfect suit to match Sam’s androgynous and suave style, Sam puts a plan in motion to not only pay off the ridiculously expensive suit, but also to build up the courage to tell Tash how deeply in love she has been with her for years.
Granted not all of these books have romance as the focus, coming out is not always about having some romantic partner encouraging you to be true to what you want. There are times when you have to find it yourself. Either way, in this day and age, let’s hope that all can celebrate being who they are, and loving who they are, unapologetically.
It’s finally June which means…it’s finally Pride month!
In case you’re unfamiliar, Pride month is the time of year when Pride parades appear, everything is covered in all the colors of the rainbow, celebration ensues, and all that glitters is, in fact, gold. Pride is the time for the LGBTQ community to come together and celebrate the pride they have and the beauty inside of who they are. The LGBTQ community has had to fight insanely hard for the freedom to openly be the people they were born to be and love the people they were born to love. They’ve had to stand up, protest in the streets, risk incarceration (or even death) just so they could gain equality and basic human rights (and they’re still fighting, especially the transgender community; trans women have a 1 in 12chance of being murdered (a 1 in 8 chance for trans women of color)).
This is why Pride is so significant. It’s vital for the LGBTQ to be seen because they fought so hard to get here. It’s important to take to the streets and laugh and scream and celebrate all the progress that’s been made, and to continue standing up and fighting for the progress that’s still yet to come.
In July 2012, aged thirty, Juliet Jacques underwent sex reassignment surgery—a process she chronicled with unflinching honesty in a serialised national newspaper column. Trans tells of her life to the present moment: a story of growing up, of defining yourself, and of the rapidly changing world of gender politics.
Fresh from university, eager to escape a dead-end job, she launches a career as a writer in a publishing culture dominated by London cliques and still figuring out the impact of the Internet. She navigates the treacherous waters of a world where, even in the liberal and feminist media, transgender identities go unacknowledged, misunderstood or worse. Yet through art, film, music, politics and football, Jacques starts to become the person she had only imagined, and begins the process of transition. Interweaving the personal with the political, her memoir is a powerful exploration of debates that comprise trans politics, issues which promise to redefine our understanding of what it means to be alive.
Revealing, honest, humorous, and self-deprecating, Trans includes an epilogue with Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?, in which Jacques and Heti discuss the cruxes of writing and identity.
From the moment Liza Winthrop meets Annie Kenyon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she knows there is something special between them. But Liza never knew falling in love could be so wonderful . . . or so confusing.
Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, “Nancy Garden has the distinction of being the first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending. Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves.”
The 25th Anniversary Edition features a full-length interview with the author by Kathleen T. Horning, Director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. Ms. Garden answers such revealing questions as how she knew she was gay, why she wrote the book, censorship, and the book’s impact on readers – then and now.
It began in a bedroom in Naples, Florida, when a misbehaving punk teenager named Tom Gabel, armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a headful of anarchist politics, landed on a riff. Gabel formed Against Me! and rocketed the band from its scrappy beginnings-banging on a drum kit made of pickle buckets-to a major-label powerhouse that critics have called this generation’s The Clash. Since its inception in 1997, Against Me! has been one of punk’s most influential modern bands, but also one of its most divisive. With every notch the four-piece climbed in their career, they gained new fans while infuriating their old ones. They suffered legal woes, a revolving door of drummers, and a horde of angry, militant punks who called them “sellouts” and tried to sabotage their shows at every turn.
But underneath the public turmoil, something much greater occupied Gabel-a secret kept for 30 years, only acknowledged in the scrawled-out pages of personal journals and hidden in lyrics. Through a troubled childhood, delinquency, and struggles with drugs, Gabel was on a punishing search for identity. Not until May of 2012 did a Rolling Stone profile finally reveal it: Gabel is a transsexual, and would from then on be living as a woman under the name Laura Jane Grace.
Tranny is the intimate story of Against Me!’s enigmatic founder, weaving the narrative of the band’s history, as well as Grace’s, with dozens of never-before-seen entries from the piles of journals Grace kept. More than a typical music memoir about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll-although it certainly has plenty of that-Tranny is an inside look at one of the most remarkable stories in the history of rock.
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.
When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.
This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.
A landmark coming-of-age novel that launched the career of one of this country’s most distinctive voices, Rubyfruit Jungle remains a transformative work more than forty years after its original publication. In bawdy, moving prose, Rita Mae Brown tells the story of Molly Bolt, the adoptive daughter of a dirt-poor Southern couple who boldly forges her own path in America. With her startling beauty and crackling wit, Molly finds that women are drawn to her wherever she goes—and she refuses to apologize for loving them back. This literary milestone continues to resonate with its message about being true to yourself and, against the odds, living happily ever after.
6. Dry by Augusten Burroughs
You may not know it, but you’ve met Augusten Burroughs. You’ve seen him on the street, in bars, on the subway, at restaurants: a twentysomething guy, nice suit, works in advertising. Regular. Ordinary. But when the ordinary person had two drinks, Augusten was circling the drain by having twelve; when the ordinary person went home at midnight, Augusten never went home at all. Loud, distracting ties, automated wake-up calls and cologne on the tongue could only hide so much for so long. At the request (well, it wasn’t really a request) of his employers, Augusten lands in rehab, where his dreams of group therapy with Robert Downey Jr. are immediately dashed by grim reality of fluorescent lighting and paper hospital slippers. But when Augusten is forced to examine himself, something actually starts to click and that’s when he finds himself in the worst trouble of all. Because when his thirty days are up, he has to return to his same drunken Manhattan life—and live it sober. What follows is a memoir that’s as moving as it is funny, as heartbreaking as it is true. Dry is the story of love, loss, and Starbucks as a Higher Power.
*Although a heavy part of the plot of this memoir is based around Burroughs’ struggle with alcoholism, the heart of it comes from the pains of watching his best friend/ex-lover’s health deteriorate more and more as his struggle with HIV soon becomes a fight against AIDS (hence why it’s on this list). This book will break your heart.
7. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronns-Mills
This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. Im Gabe. Welcome to my show.”” My birth name is Elizabeth, but Im a guy. Gabe. My parents think Ive gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know Im right. Ive been a boy my whole life. When you think about it, Im like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B sidenot heard as often, but just as good. Its time to let my B side play. Winner of the 2014 Stonewall Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and provocative literary debut that was named to numerous best of the year lists.
When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.
But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone, and Cam becomes an expert at both.
Then Coley Talor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship, one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she’s not quite sure who that is.
Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like the fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself–the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.
When Sana and her family move to California, she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore.
Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy…what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
Incredibly funny and poignant, this twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming out story—wrapped in a geek romance—is a knockout of a debut novel by Becky Albertalli.
On the first day at his new school, Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan–especially because Leo is a trans guy and isn’t out at his new school.
Then Leo stands up for a classmate in a fight and they become friends. With Leo’s help and support, the classmate, who is a trans girl, prepares to come out and transition–to find a new name, Kate, and live a truth that has been kept secret for too long. Kate and Leo are surrounded by bigots, but they have each other, and they have hope in their future.
The Art of Being Normal: A Novel by Lisa Williamson is an uplifting story about two teenagers set in the modern day in the United Kingdom. The author was inspired to write this novel after working in England’s national health service, in a department dedicated to helping teens who are questioning their gender identity.
This novel, which won awards in the UK, is a first-person narrative about two transgender students, and is ideal for cisgender (cis) readers―people who identify with the gender assigned to them at birth―to learn more about gender identity and what it means to be transgender.
The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality.
When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.
By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heart-breaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds.
She’s Not There is the story of a person changing genders, the story of a person bearing and finally revealing a complex secret; above all, it is a love story. By turns hilarious and deeply moving, Jennifer Finney Boylan explores the remarkable territory that lies between men and women, examines changing friendships, and rejoices in the redeeming power of family. She’s Not There is a portrait of a loving marriage—the love of James for his wife, Grace, and, against all odds, the enduring love of Grace for the woman who becomes her “sister,” Jenny.
To this extraordinary true story, Boylan brings the humorous, fresh voice that won her accolades as one of the best comic novelists of her generation. With her distinctive and winning perspective,She’s Not There explores the dramatic outward changes and unexpected results of life as a woman: Jenny fights the urge to eat salad, while James consumed plates of ribs; gone is the stability of “one damn mood, all the damn time.”
While Boylan’s own secret was unusual, to say the least, she captures the universal sense of feeling uncomfortable, out of sorts with the world, and misunderstood by her peers. Jenny is supported on her journey by her best friend, novelist Richard Russo, who goes from begging his friend to “Be a man” (in every sense of the word) to accepting her as an attractive, buoyant woman. “The most unexpected thing,” Russo writes in his Afterword to the book, “is in how Jenny’s story we recognize our shared humanity.”
As James evolves into Jennifer in scenes that are by turns tender, startling, and witty, a marvelously human perspective emerges on issues of love, sex, and the fascinating relationship between our physical and our intuitive selves. Through the clear eyes of a truly remarkable woman,She’s Not There provides a new window on the often confounding process of accepting ourselves.
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a memoir about a life’s work to find happiness. It is a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a religious zealot disguised as a mother who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the dresser, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in a north England industrial town now changed beyond recognition; about the universe as a cosmic dustbin. It is the story of how a painful past, which Winterson thought she had written over and repainted, rose to haunt her later in life, sending her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother. It is also a book about other people’s literature, one that shows how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft that supports us when we are sinking.
Witty, acute, fierce, and celebratory, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a tough-minded search for belonging—for love, identity, home, and a mother.
World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals—and you’ve never heard of many of them.
Queer author and activist Sarah Prager delves deep into the lives of 23 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to the trailblazing gender-ambiguous Queen of Sweden and a bisexual blues singer who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich queer heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.
By turns hilarious and inspiring, the beautifully illustrated Queer, There, and Everywhere is for anyone who wants the real story of the queer rights movement.
David Levithan’s bestselling YA novel Every Day is becoming a movie, and it has everything good things have. One, it’s about a girl who falls in love with a spirit. Two, the spirit changes people’s bodies every day. Three, the two have to find each other every day. It’s a coming-of-age romance with magic and intrigue, and everything is stacking up for the movie adaptation. Get your first look here.
Image Via Orion Pictures
Image Via Orion Pictures
The story follows Rhiannon (The Nice Guys’ Angourie Rice), who notices her boyfriend is unusually warm to her one day. The next day, things go back to normal. It turns out he was possessed by a benevolent spirit called “A,” who finds itself in a different host every day. Rhiannon and “A” grow closer and closer, but their predicament is obviously complicated.
Sixteen different actors play the role of “A” throughout the movie, which, on its own, will be really exciting to see. They include Paper Towns‘ Justice Smith. It has a vaguely I’m Not There or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus vibe (both movies where multiple actors play the same role). But sixteen for one character? Director Michael Sucsy has a fun job.
The through line, I think, with all the 16 actors who play A, it really had something to do with the eyes. Not the shape of the eyes… It’s a cliché or a phrase or an old adage — ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’ — and looking into these actors eyes in their audition, I saw a common thread that I suppose, if I were to shorthand it, would be something like an old soul and even though some of these actors were 15-20 years old, the thing that they all share in common is that they all really do have an old soul.
The story sounds wondrous and the script was adapted by Me, Earl and the Dying Girl’s Jesse Andrews. So it’s got a great crew behind it. Every Day is due out February 23, 2018.