While Pride Month is most definitely a time for celebration within the LGBTQ+ community, it is also an opportunity to listen and educate ourselves, especially as allies, on the complex realties and experiences that the community has had to face throughout history, and still has face on an everyday basis. And what better way to do so than diving into beautifully-written works written by folks from all corners of the community?
From heartfelt memoirs to groundbreaking works of fiction, these books not only entertain us, but also challenge, enlighten, and teach us to foster empathy as they burst with imagination, emotion, and profound stories that deserve to be told during Pride Month and beyond. Read on for 20 of our must-read book recs that you’ll be eternally grateful you picked up.
LGBTQ+ Fiction Books
When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal—but Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get ahold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S. and British relations take a turn for the worse. So, their handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the rivals. But what at first begins as a fake friendship grows deeper than either Alex or Henry could have imagined.
Read this before the movie comes out on August 11!
Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship, an apartment in New York City, and even a job she didn't hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of. The only thing missing was a child—but then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern, avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men, which leads to even more complicated scenarios.
In 1617 Norway, Maren Magnusdatter stands on the coast and watches as all 40 of her small village's men—including her father and brother—are lost at sea during a violent storm. For the women left behind, survival means defying the strict rules of the island in a new feminine frontier. When a man sent from Scotland to root out alleged witchcraft brings with him a pretty, young Norwegian wife named Ursa, she and Maren are drawn to one another.
Patrick, or 'Gay Uncle Patrick,' has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for week-long visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. When tragedy strikes and Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian, he’s incredibly overwhelmed and has no idea what to expect from being a parent to a 6 and 9 year old.
In this novel described by critics as the LBGTQ+ version of Harry Potter, six of the most uniquely-talented magicians are selected to earn a place in the Alexandrian Society, the foremost secret society in the world. The chosen will secure a life of power and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, but at what cost? Nonetheless, they will fight tooth and nail for the right to join the ranks of the Alexandrians.
After Damani's father dies, she lives paycheck to paycheck in a basement caring for her mom and driving for an app that is constantly cutting her profits. Then one day, she gives a ride to Jolene, who seems like she could be the perfect girlfriend, and their chemistry is off the charts. But just as their romance intensifies and Damani finally lets her guard down, Jolene does something unforgivable.
This groundbreaking novel is about a young woman named Jeanette, who is raised by an extremely religious mother in a cult-like church community. Even though she discovers at a young age that she may be a lesbian, she knows that homosexuality is strictly forbidden by the church, leading her to put her feelings aside. But as time goes on, she starts to realize she can’t live a lie forever, even if it means throwing a wrench in her family’s—and God’s—plans for her.
Sammie Lucas is worried about her son, Samson, a sulky, mysterious boy who resists her every attempt to bond with him. Uncertain in her own feelings about motherhood, she tries her best while growing resentful of Monika, her confident-yet-absent wife. As Samson grows from difficult toddler to grumpy teenager, Sammie's struggle to create a picture-perfect queer family unravels.
This beautiful novel is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read, finally speaking his unapologetic truth. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late 20s, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known.
Raised by their neurodivergent father, Julian, Morgan has grown up haunted by the absence of their mysterious mother, Zoe—especially now, as they navigate their gender identity and the turmoil of first love. When Zoe is dumped by her girlfriend, Brigid, she suddenly comes crashing back into Morgan and Julian's lives. Then, Julian and Brigid become unlikely pen-pals and friends, united by the knowledge of what it's like to love and lose Zoe.
LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction Books
Michael Arceneaux's characteristic wit and candor have made him one of today's boldest writers on social issues—so it's no surprise that his memoir is an impassioned and refreshing look at minority life in today's America that leaves no stone unturned. He eloquently writes about coming out to his mother, growing up in Houston, being approached for the priesthood, and more.
Before she became the first transgender person to speak at a national political convention in 2016, Sarah McBride struggled with the decision to come out. She'd known she was a girl from her earliest memories, but it wasn't until the Facebook post announcing her truth went viral that she realized just how much impact her story could have on the country. McBride's story of love and loss is a powerful telling of what it means to be openly transgender in the U.S.
As Elliot Page navigated a painful past, criticism and abuse from some of the most powerful people in Hollywood, and a society dead set on forcing him into a binary, the actor often stayed silent, unsure of what to do—until enough was enough. The Oscar-nominated star who captivated the world with his performance in Juno finally shares his story in a groundbreaking memoir about love, family, fame, and stepping into who we truly are with strength and joy.
A lot has changed in GLAAD Award-winning journalist Samantha Allen's life—but what hasn't is her deep love of Red State America, and of queer people who stay in these areas rather than moving to the more liberal coasts. In this book, Allen takes readers on a cross-country road trip with the goal to do "something gay every day." Making pit stops at drag shows, political rallies, and hubs of queer life, she introduces us to scores of extraordinary LGBTQ+ people working for change.
Danica Roem made national headlines when—as a transgender former front-woman for a metal band and a political newcomer—she replaced Virginia's most notoriously anti-LGBTQ incumbent as state delegate. In this wildly-entertaining book, Danica dismantles all the stories her opponents tried to hedge against her, showing how through brutal honesty and loving authenticity, it's possible to embrace the low points, and even transform them into her greatest strengths.
Drawing from the New York Public Library's archives, this book is a collection of first accounts, diaries, periodic literature, and articles from LGBTQ+ magazines and newspapers that documented both the years leading up to and the years following the Stonewall riots. But most importantly, it spotlights both iconic activists who were pivotal in the movement as well as forgotten figures.
This is a stunning coming-of-age memoir about a young, Black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself within his family and within his country. Through a series of short stories, Saeed Jones draws readers into his tumultuous relationships and creates a portrait of what we all do for one another as we fight to become ourselves.
When Amelia Possanza moved to Brooklyn to build a life of her own, she found herself surrounded by queer stories that inspired her to seek out lesbians throughout history who could become her role models in both romance and life. Centered around seven love stories, Possanza dives into the personal histories of lesbians in the 20th century: who they were, how they loved, why their stories were destroyed, and where their memories echo and live on.
Growing up in rural Oregon, Brandon Wolf grappled with the devastating loss of his supportive mother and faced embedded racism and homophobia. After moving to Orlando, he found belonging in a community that was a safe space with people he'd come to call his chosen family. Then, on June 12, 2016, everything changed during the tragic Orlando nightclub shooting. In this coming-of-age memoir, Wolf explores how to get through the darkest times with healing, hope, and resistance.
As a young child in North Carolina, Jacob Tobia was told they could only own the masculine half of who they were, leading to years of self-isolation. In their unforgettable memoir, Tobia shares their deeply personal story of trauma and healing and a powerful reflection on gender and self-acceptance—guaranteeing that you'll never think about gender the same way again.