We start off this list of LGBTQ+ must-reads with Tanya Byrne’s Afterlove, published in 2021. Cited as the ‘lesbian love story you’ve been dying to read’, this is a delightful but also heart-breaking book that needed to be included on this list. Byrne’s writing style is both simple but reflective, making this book super easy to read. We meet Ash, who is about to become a reaper in the afterlife. However, she is determined to see her first love Poppy again. Sadly, the only thing that separates them is death. This NYE, Ash gets an invitation from the afterlife she simply can’t decline; to join a gang of fierce girl reapers. But Poppy is still there, hiding out in Ash’s head. Ash will do anything to see her again, even if it means they only spend a few days together. Dead or alive…
The Taylor Jenkins Reid fictional universe is taking over the world, it seems. With their 2019 book Daisy Jones & The Six adaptation being released later this year, it was only a matter of time before a Evelyn Hugo adaptation was going to be announced. Readers meet an aged and reclusive Evelyn Hugo, a Hollywood icon from the golden age. Since leaving the business in the 1980s, Evelyn has decided to tell her story, which includes her seven husbands. Twists and turns take over this story, but it is truly a great read. The bisexual representation in this novel is great, especially as this is so often overlooked. Within media, it still seems as if the word ‘bisexual’ is taboo.
Fans of the Netflix show, Young Royals, must take some time to read this book. The story focuses on America’s First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz and the British Prince Henry. This tale of forbidden love, enemies to lovers, a LGBTQ+ classic – it’s a perfect choice for the list. Alex’s life seems pretty great, that is until photos of a confrontation with his nemesis Prince Henry leak to the tabloids, threatening the American/British relations. So, they do the only thing they can do, stage a friendship between the First Son and the Prince. But unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for them, it doesn’t stop there…
Madeline Miller’s 2011 novel is a retelling of Greece’s greatest hero, instead from the perspective of his best friend, Patroclus. The twist? A romance blooms between Achilles and Patroclus. This novel does stay true to the Greek legends, but fills in the blanks, giving Patroclus a backstory and demonstrating how the friendship between the two transforms into a romance. This is an action-packed adventure, filled with a truly epic love story that creates a new perspective on the characters we meet in The Iliad.
After Netflix’s adaptation, Heartstopper sales soared with even a Heartstopper colouring book being published. Though the show was great, nothingbeat the original. We meet Charlie Spring, a openly gay and slightly highly-strung Year 10. Nick Nelson is the cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player from Year 11. Friendship quickly blooms between the two, but Charlie can’t help wishing it would turn into something more. The comics are so sweet and heart-warming, it’s really lovely to see the two boys falling for each other. Although the language can feel a little juvenile at times, it seems to work for the setting of a Grammar School.
Our next pick is Kacen Callender’s 2020 young adult novel, Felix Ever After. Nominated for the Goodreads Best Young Adult Fiction Award in 2020, this is truly a revelatory and important novel. We meet Felix Love, a transgender teen who had never been in love. He wants to know what it’s like, what it feels like and why it’s so easy for everyone else. Though Felix is proud of his identity, he fears it may be too much being black, queer and transgender. A sweet story, that grapples with extremely important themes. Although it is young adult fiction, this is a a definite one to read this LGBTQ+ History Month.
Since appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K Season 2, Bimini’s life has dramatically changed. This is Bimini’s story of how drag helped her and brought her back from the brink of her own self-destruction to the mainstage. We hear about her life lessons, making us both laugh and cry, with Bimini’s wit, charm and kindness. This book is truly amazing. There’s almost nothing else we can say about it. Hearing about Bimini’s own experiences growing up is a real eye-opener and yet so familiar and relatable to so many others.
Would it really be LGBTQ+ History Month without a little book on that very important history? Our next choice is the non-fiction photographic history book. We Are Everywhere details the queer liberation movement, being released for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. This book is an introduction to the history of the modern queer liberation movement, told through the lens of the most beautiful photographs and research narrative. The history of the LGBTQ+ movement is extremely important, and it can be so easy to forget the roots and where they came from.
Published for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, this anthology chronicles the fight for LGBTQ rights in the 1960s and the activists who lead it.The Stonewall Reader drew from the New York Public Library’s archives, creating a collection of first-hand accounts, diaries, periodic literature, and articles from the LGBTQ magazines and newspapers. If this book does anything, it’s that it teaches people, it informs. With a variety of perspectives from Drag Queens, trans men and women, people of colour, black queer people and many more, it is a great way to find out more about Stonewall. Stonewall is a part of history many of us never learned about, but it’s time that we did.
The final book of the list, Detransition, Baby was nominated for both Best Fiction and Best Debut Novel in the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards. The novel focus on three women, transgender and cisgender, whose lives seem to come together after an unexpected pregnancy. The novel covers themes such as gender, motherhood, sex and love. This book has been praised for the depiction of trans women’s love in more of a three-dimensional way, demonstrating the reality including transphobic othering and violence as well experiences of fulfillment. A messy, emotional, beautiful story that deserves to finish this list.
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