Queer Books Everyone Should Read for Pride
Or any time of year - support is not a seasonal thing.
June is Pride Month, a time of celebrating and commemorating the lives and loves of queer people. There are plenty of ways you can do this. Pride Parades are probably the first thing a lot of people think of, since it’s so visible, but Pride is about more than just flashy outfits and drinking yourself senseless. It’s about fighting for queer rights, fighting for justice, remembering those who came before or left too soon, and supporting queer people wherever possible.
And there’s more than one way to offer that support. Buying and promoting queer work is certainly a major way, and this can include everything from watching movies made by and or/starring queer characters to watching and tipping at drag shows to reading and reviewing queer books. Since I’m a writer and a major bookworm, I’m going to focus on the latter.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
I already talked about this in another book rec, but it absolutely needs to be included in this list. A gay, trans protagonist, a gay love interest, and other queer side characters, all wrapped up in a Latinx paranormal murder mystery? Sign me up!
It’s a super quick, fun read, and it’s a contemporary, which I know a lot of people find to be a more accessible genre than historical fiction or future-set stories.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
First, this is just an incredible book that I could gush about for hours given the chance. The world-building is so thorough and immersive (and includes giant, rideable crows!), the writing is gorgeous, and all the characters are complex and vivid.
And diverse! Not only is this book heavily steeped in a mix of pre-Colombian indigenous American cultures, but there’s a ton of casual queer rep. Xiala is attracted to more than one gender; there’s a couple trans non-binary characters, one of whom is fairly prominent in the plot and uses neopronouns; there’s a very brief, nonjudgmental reintroduction of an old friend who is binary trans, etc., etc. It’s all so beautifully handled.
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
Another book centering indigenous characters. This one is a contemporary fantasy instead of an epic, and, like Cemetery Boys, it focuses on a murder mystery. It’s full of humour, heart, and interesting magic that is not a secret to the world at large and so casually integrated into day-to-day life. The titular protagonist can raise the ghosts of dead animals and is constantly followed around by the spirit of her dead dog. Oh, and she’s confirmed, in dialogue, to be asexual, with no judgment or shaming. Definitely something to check out if you want a fun, charming read.
Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda
This graphic novel is dark, gruesome, and set in a matriarchal, Asian-rooted fantasy world. There’s tons of sapphic relationships casually scattered throughout the story, some casual, some committed, some borne strictly out of political convenience. The characters are complicated and morally grey, the world’s history and future are brimming with war, and the steampunk aesthetic is *chef’s kiss*
Also, Kippa. She owns my entire heart and I would die for her.
Seraphina / / Shadowscale by Rachel Hartman
I hesitated about including these, so think of this duology as a sort of honourable mention. The main character isn’t queer. However, there are several prominent queer characters throughout the story, including a male gay couple, a powerfully stationed trans woman, and a fantasy language with six gendered pronouns and a custom of asking, “How may I pronoun you?” upon meeting someone new.
The story itself is excellent, too. It’s an epic fantasy with intricate world-building full of political intrigue, a protagonist struggling with fear and self-loathing, and gorgeous writing that actually captures the beauty and ethereal sense of music – it’s the first time I’ve ever been able to describe prose as truly lyrical.
Oh, yeah, and there’s dragons.
Obviously, there are far more queer books than this in the world – there’s at least a dozen more that I’m hoping to read in the near future. These are just ones that I’ve really loved and know will stick with me long after reading. And isn’t that what a really good book should do?
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