LGTBQIA Pride Month is celebrated every year in June, and it honours a pivotal moment in the Gay Liberation Movement: the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, New York City. Today, millions of people gather at marches and carnivals across the world to celebrate LGTBQIA+ rights and contribute to greater visibility and equality for the community. To commemorate Pride Month, I want to bring awareness to some upcoming LGTBQIA+ authors who are paving the path of resilience and unity.
Mighty Red Riding Hood: A Fairly Queer Tale by Wallace West
Little Red has his favourite frilly red riding hood and he’s so happy; no one can mess with him, even a big bully of a wolf. This cute version of the classic tale reminds children to hold their ground when others don’t care to understand them.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning Felix Ever After follows a transgender teen, Felix Love, who has never been in love despite his surname. He yearns to find love and know what it feels like; however, he doesn’t think he will be able to since he’s Black, queer, and transgender. Then, an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages alongside images of him before he transitioned – Felix plans his revenge. Through his encounter with the anonymous student, he tries to navigate his feelings, which leads him to his own self-discovery. This inspiring story teaches us the importance of identity and recognizing that love comes in all ways.
Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June
Living in a small rural Washington town, Jay Collier stands out as the solo gay kid. His friends constantly talk about their heterosexual relationships, while Jay wishes he could have his very own first-everything. So, he thinks of experiences he would one day want to have and puts it in a list – his Gay Agenda. His family then moves to Seattle, and he’s thrown into a school that has a wonderful LGBTQIA+ community. As a result, he begins to cross things off his list in his search for love. As he does, he’s torn between his new life and his old friends, his heart, and his hormones, all while trying to stay true to himself.
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee
Emery Lee’s rom-com follows Noah Ramirez and his popular blog titled “Meet Cute Diary”, a collection of happily ever-afters for trans people. It was a beacon of hope for all trans people, even though it was a collection of fantasies written by a boy who is afraid to step out of the closet. An online troll exposes his work as fiction, and Noah has to prove to his readers that the stories are true, even though he doesn’t have evidence. It’s not until a boy named Drew walks into his life and fake dates him to save the diary. Noah’s feelings start to grow, and he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as his stories.
Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
This inspirational story follows Waylon Russell Brewer, a fat openly-gay boy who is stuck in the small West Texas town of Clover City. His plan is to graduate and move to Austin with his twin sister, Clementine. However, Clementine deviates from the plan, so he submits an audition tape for his favourite TV show, Fiercest of Them All, which is somehow leaked to the entire school. As a result, he’s nominated as a joke for prom queen, and his sister’s girlfriend, Hannah, is nominated for prom king. Instead of being humiliated, they both decide to accept their nominations and run proudly with the help of their fellow kings and queens.
The (Un)Popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez
Jasper Sanchez’s inspiring #ownvoices YA debut talks about a transgender student’s dive into politics, an act that goes against his father’s wishes. Mark understands politics and knows that optics can make or break an election, hence why he runs for the student body president election. Throughout his campaign, he promises to keep his past hidden, but his counterpart candidate is manipulative and charming. However, he’s new in town and his new friends are nerds, but he still tries to acquire votes and start a romance. His quest to win the election finds himself intertwined with his father trying to silence him and a bully trying to get in his way. Both challenges push him to navigate and decide which one matters most: perception or truth.
We Are Totally Normal by Naomi Kanakia
We Are Totally Normal follows Nandan, a boy with a plan to make sure his junior year is perfect. However, hooking up with his guy friend wasn’t part of it, especially since he’s always been into girls. As he explores these different feelings, the more anxious he becomes, and he wonders if he’ll continue to keep his friendship and have a normal life. The only other option is to break up with Dave, but he questions whether that’s “normal” and right for him to do.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
A New York Times Best Seller, George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue is a series of personal essays showing us his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. His experiences start from getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at the age of 5, to antique shopping with his grandmother, and to his first relationships. This book touches upon topics of sexuality, gender identity, family, consent, toxic masculinity, and Black joy that will appeal to young adults.
Wow, No Thank You.: Essays by Samantha Irby
A New York Times Bestseller, Samantha Irby showcases a collection of hilarious essays about her life in Wow, No Thank You. Irby left her job as a receptionist in a veterinary clinic, published successful books, and moved to a house with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state, where she makes cool-looking mason jar salad and hosts book clubs. She further speaks about her bad dates with new friends and meeting tv executives and amateur astrologers in LA. Her collection of essays is raw, funny, and most of all, relatable.
Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Less follows Arthur Less, a struggling novelist who receives a wedding invitation to his ex’s wedding. After their failed nine-year relationship, it would be both awkward and miserable if he were to either accept or decline the invitation, so he chooses to travel the world and attend literary events that he probably wouldn’t have entertained otherwise. Along the way, he goes through many experiences. His story is relatable with mishaps, mistakes, and misunderstandings along the way, albeit a love story.
I hope you enjoy these inspiring books that celebrate the brilliance and diversity of queer literature. Most of these were written by authors at different stages in their career, as you can see through their personal essays and experiences. Their stories, both fictional and real, provide readers a way to celebrate sexuality and explore their sense of identity. These and many other LGBTQIA+ authors inspire, influence, and move others through their work, which in turn brings an authentic perspective to their readers.