This Pride month is different from a lot of Pride months in recent years. Many celebrations have had to be canceled due to COVID-19. The Justice Department has submitted a brief to the Supreme Court to give adoption agencies the ability to refuse same-sex couples. Two gay bars helping protestors in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were raided by police.
In the wake of this turmoil and upheaval, it’s important to remember we are not alone in our fights for justice. One of the best ways to do this is to read the stories of those who have come before us, and those who are still amongst us. Some of these books detail important pieces of our history, and some are enjoyable ways to escape the hurt of current events by indulging in some self-care. Check out the list below.
This classic piece of modern literature depicts the harrowing journey of Celie through a life of violence and abuse that she survives with the strength, compassion, and love of the women surrounding her. This is a must-read story, and there's no better time to read it than now.
This story focuses on the life of the fictional character of Jess, a butch woman, and her life from the ‘50s through the ‘90s. Through her story we see the history of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly lesbians. Jess deals with discrimination from the outside, as well as within the community as she explores her gender identity and expression. Along the way, she makes many friends through which the reader can see different areas of lives than what Jess is experiencing.
This is a novel heavily based on the author Jeanette Winterson’s experiences growing up as a lesbian within an English Pentecostal community. The LGBTQ+ community has long had a complicated relationship with Christianity; many people have experienced discrimination and abuse from people claiming it was because it was what Christianity taught. Winterson’s story is not different from that narrative, but throughout she finds her own kind of faith while staying true to her identity.
This memoir explores Janet Mock’s journey from childhood to young adulthood as she goes in depth into the concept of what it means to be a real woman. Through her, we also see the relevant events that have shaped many transgender people’s lives, such as medical transitioning, facing discrimination that could potentially harm her education, coming out to her family, and finding her community. She navigates the difficulties of obtaining hormones and surgery while working as a sex-worker not only for her own sake, but to help her family survive.
She’s known as Mary Alice to her family, but she is more often called Malice, a trained hunter of supernatural creatures. When a violent werewolf pack attacks her sister, Malice kidnaps the first werewolf she can find. Ruri had a nice life as the second to the Alpha, but all that changed when a rival Alpha took over in a violent attack on her pack. Now the dangerous hunter Malice has taken her to take care of a newly turned werewolf. They hate each other, but neither can deny the spark between them.
When Ruth was a little girl, she fished Hermana out of the river and they’ve been inseparable ever since. They live a good life, Ruth makes ends meet with her brother, and Hermana does the same with her grandmother, the local midwife. But everything changes when they find the dead body of a magical being in the woods, a body that begins to poison their precious forest—and eventually the town.
If you enjoyed "Downton Abbey," this is the book for you. When Harry Knight’s father dies, she must take up the title of Countess to Axedale Hall. She’s not happy to be home, but she promised her grandfather she would return their heritage to its former glory. She hires a housekeeper, Annie, who is a single mother with a difficult past of her own, but remains optimistic and hopeful to give her daughter a better life.
This fantasy adventure draws from the same folklore that inspired "Frozen," but with a different twist. In this story, the Snow Queen is an evil goddess-like figure who steals away Gerta’s friend Kay to her ice castle that can only be reached by magic. Gerta has spent her life up until this point consumed by self-doubt and her unrequited love for Kay, but all of that will change when it’s up to her to save his life. Along her journey, Gerta encounters a witch, a talking raven, and a bandit named Janna—with whom Gerta grows particularly close.
Luke has disguised herself and lived as a man for the majority of her life, not only to survive, but in order to live how she wants to and would not otherwise be able to. She plans to journey the Oregon Trail and start a horse ranch of her own. Then, she meets Nora, who works in a brothel to support herself and her daughter, Amy. She offers Nora a marriage of convenience, one that will give Nora and Amy a better life and will help Luke better disguise herself in close quarters with others. Luke doesn’t tell Nora her secret, and they both initially agree it is just a business arrangement, but when they counter the trials and challenges of the Oregon Trail, they can’t help but grow close.
Alizhan has lived a life of isolation, unable to connect with or touch people because her telepathic powers cause immense pain to those she comes into contact with. Her only solace has been the woman who saved her from an orphanage, the noblewoman Iriyat, and a friend she’s never spoken with but steals thornfruit from once a week. This friend, Evreyet, has grown fond of the fruit thief, and uncomfortably aware of her own growing attraction to women. When Alizhan discovers a dark secret, she has no one else to turn to and the two must risk everything to unravel the mystery and save countless lives.
Cobie has played the same character in the same romance films too many times. Now she wants to step out of her comfort zone and try for more challenging roles, but studios won’t take her seriously. Her manager proposes that she has a fake relationship with Lila, a pop star on top of the mountain of fame and fortune, but who has run out of new things to excite and shock her audience. This fauxmance will help Cobie acquire an edgy public persona and give Lila something new to woo the public for her new music. But this arrangement has more challenges than either expects as they grow close, sparks fly, and old ghosts of the past come back to haunt them both.
Aster is an intersex, nonbinary scientist, assistant, and sharecropper living on the USS Matilda, a worldship split into two factions: the white upper-deckers who have control over everything and everyone, and the black lower-deckers who’s exploited labor the ship runs on. Her mother died when she was only a baby, but through the journals she left, Aster might be able to find a way off the ship. Aster is not the only queer character, as a lot of the lower-deckers are not cisgender and/or not straight, which is treated as a norm in their many communities (each lower deck has its own society).
In this memoir, Ma-Nee Chacaby chronicles her life as an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian. She faces racism, abuse, vision impairment, and alcoholism, but continues forward to sobriety, raising many children through her own marriage and foster care, and becoming an elder in her adopted city of Thunder Bay, Ontario. She describes herself as two-spirit and as having both male and female spirit within herself. Through a life full of challenges, Chacaby not only survives, but thrives through finding love of herself and her community.
This is an alternate history novel in which groups of marginalized people come together to fight back against one of history’s most brutal oppressors, Belgian King Leopold II, who colonized the Congo. The story follows episodic chapters with different characters from the 1880s until World War I. There are a wide range of point-of-view characters the story follows, including three queer women. Here, the author explores what might have happened had the natives of the land had access to steam technology and united with immigrants from other lands (from escaped slaves of the Americas to a Chinese inventor).
Kaede and Taisin are chosen to journey into the land of the Fairy Queen to save their world permanently set in darkness with strange creatures roaming the land. Kaede is an exemplary fighter and more comfortable with earthly reality, whereas Taisin is an excellent sage and more practiced in the art of magic. Though they are different, their travels and challenges bring them closer together, but it might not be enough to bring peace back to the land.
This story was originally published on The Everygirl on June 14, 2020.
Read More: 13 of Our Favorite LGBTQ+ Books for Kids