The Importance of LGBTQ Literature

In 2013 when I was seventeen, I came out as a lesbian. The road to this turning point had been long, confusing, and filled with self-hate. I remember the first time I had a crush on another girl. I was thirteen and my eyes had secretly started following her. She had long, brown, silky curls. Her face was full of freckles and she had proudly kept a childlike spirit that the rest of us felt we needed to shed after primary school. Wherever she went, she made other people laugh; her smile was always genuine, which made her popular amongst girls and boys alike. I remember the exact moment I rejected my feelings. It happened during biology, which took place in a lab-like classroom. Just before the start of class, the girl walked in with two of her friends, laughing as she talked to them in her usual confident and seemingly effortless way. I averted my eyes and tried to bury my head in my arms. I thought to myself: ‘No, you are making things up. I mean it’s totally fine when two girls kiss but not me. I’m not like that. I like boys.’

After this, I shut out the possibility of liking girls. Instead, I started looking at all the boys around me, desperately wanting to like someone or find love. Boys started showing an interest in me and I started going on dates. I held their hand, laughed at their jokes, and thought that they were perfectly nice but I didn’t feel anything. Soon after, my interest in boys dropped and I started feeling like the lack of interest was my own fault. The problem was not the boys; they were nice enough. It was my fault that I couldn’t like them. I was convinced that I was incapable of loving and became depressed.

The second time I had a crush on another girl came years later, shortly before I came out. I spent a lot of my time online talking to friends from all over the world. We supported each other and spoke freely about things were difficult to talk about with our IRL friends and family. The internet seemed unrestricted. It was a place where you could be whoever or whatever you wanted to be, including gay. This safe place allowed me to find myself, and my online friends gave me the courage to be myself. I remember waking up one morning thinking, ‘Hey, I’m a lesbian.’ I felt so much lighter from that day forward as if I were a cloud floating in the blue sky. It felt like stepping out of a smog-polluted maze and into fresh, clean air. Everyone in my life was supportive, including my parents to whom I came out two weeks later. I would walk outside, look at a girl and think, ‘I feel something, I feel like I could like her. I can love again; I’m capable of loving!’ This experience felt like the greatest gift I could have ever received.

I wanted to celebrate and connect with other people like me. I wanted to see myself represented in books and on television. Suddenly the question arose, why were all romances in YA novels between a boy and a girl? Why did I never get to read about girls who like girls? I asked my friends, but they only knew about Yaoi so I started my search for queer books online. I tried a YA list on Goodreads, which listed all the mainstream books with straight relationships. I tried clicking on random books I had never heard of, scrolled here and there and eventually ended up on a review of Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters. The book is about a love story between two girls in high school. My heart started racing with excitement. This was exactly what I had been looking for.

Was it available in the library? Of course not. But my parents gave me money for clothes every month with the idea that I’d learn how to save up, which I did, cause I didn’t care about clothes so I used it to buy books instead, including this one. I took the book out of the package and stared at the cover; it showed the upper bodies of two teenage girls learning against one another. ‘Is it worth falling in love if you HAVE to keep it a secret?’ the blurb reads. I finished the book that same night.

At the end of the book, the author writes a letter to her readers. She starts by saying how it seemed like a crazy idea to write a lesbian love story and that she was afraid of hate mail and putting herself and her wife at risk. However, the response from her readers after publication was overwhelmingly positive. It was clear to her that there is ‘an eager, hungry audience yearning for contemporary literature that depicts their lives, exposes the myths, reveals the truth, and illuminates her contributions of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning) people to home family and society.’ Reading this letter sent chills down my spine. Partially, it felt like a reality check–of the real dangers that queer people still face. On the other hand, it felt like I (as a queer person) was being heard. She said that she was going to write many more books ‘for and about us’.

Keeping You a Secret is not the book I would recommend you to read unless you are a teenager. I personally don’t like themes where characters are struggling with their sexuality to the point where they want to keep it a secret. I also don’t like a lot of high school drama but this was the only book I could find at the time and it was great for the sheer fact it was about a romance between two girls. However, I have since collected quite a few queer books. I didn’t realise how many I had until one could argue I already owned too many. I mainly went after lesbian books for a while as you’ll be able to tell from my list and then got caught up in mandatory reading in university and haven’t been reading as much since as I’m still recovering, lol.

Yes, these are all my queer books.

My Three Favourite Queer Books

Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg | 5-stars
This book is about 17-year old Flannery who goes off to Yale University and has so far seen nothing but the town she grew up in. Very quickly, she starts falling in love with this woman, 28-year old Anne who is very briefly her teacher (for 1 class). The thing that caught me about this novel is that as we’re reading it, we fall in love with alongside Flannery. The novel has beautiful descriptions and is told in very small chapters (1 to 2 pages) as they represent the pages that Flannery writes to Anne about their love story. Another thing I like is that their sexuality isn’t mentioned, they simply fall in love. And lastly, they’re both into books!

Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith | 4-stars
This story is about fluidity in different ways. The main character thinks she might be gay, while the person she falls in love with doesn’t stick to a label. It tackles homophobia, corporate and social responsibility and the feeling that comes with falling in love. It’s not your typical love story and switches between perspectives while they’re fighting a war against or with the corporation that sells bottled water.

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin | 4.5-stars
Set in Paris in 1956, Giovanni is about to be guillotined. We now go a few months back to David (from the United States) who is ashamed of his homosexuality but he does date men. He meets Giovanni who is very openly gay and they become involved with each other to the extent that David starts living in his room. This novel conveys emotions very well and is heartbreaking but so good to read. The setting is interesting because of the year, the location and the other gay men in the story. Interestingly, James Baldwin is a black man but these characters are white.

List of Queer Books

I’m quite passionate about queer fiction, although I have more favourite books outside of this specific gender. I think this genre is very important though so I’m going to leave a list of queer books I’ve read and others I’d like to read here in case anyone is looking for an LGBTQ novel. There is such a big underrepresentation for POC, transgenders, intersex, asexuals and bi-characters and I specifically started looking for these representations about a year ago. If you have any recommendations for queer books, do let me know in the comments. I’m particularly short on books representing asexual characters.

Organised in the following order:
– Girl x Girl
– Boy x Boy
– Transgender & Intersex
– Asexual
– POC
– Bi Characters
– Short Story Collections
– Non-fiction & Memoir

Girl x Girl Novels

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden | 4-stars
Main themes: YA, sexuality, love, social status, coming of age
This novel is about two 17-year-old girls in New York who started out as friends. They begin noticing feelings for each other and decide to see where it will lead even though they know that society is against them. The book was published in 1982 when it was generally only allowed to show queer romances if the story ended badly. Annie on My Mind tells a positive story and has a happy ending, which was groundbreaking back then.

Carol by Patricia Highsmith | To read
Main themes: Love, divorce, loneliness
Also known as The Price of Salt. The story tells the tale of a nineteen-year-old woman, Therese who is trapped in a life with a boyfriend she doesn’t love. She works in a department store when a blonde woman in her thirties enters the shop. It’s love at first sight.

Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour | 3-stars
Main themes: YA, Coming of age, love, film, quest
The main character, Emi, works as a set designer and does not struggle with her sexuality. She ends up receiving a mysterious letter from a girl named Ava and throughout the book, she is trying to find her, while they fall in love with each other. Neither specifies whether they are a lesbian or bi.

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan | 3.5-stars
Main themes: YA, coming out, summer camp, friendship, love
This is a young adult novel about a girl that spends her time with friends at a summer camp. She starts out thinking she is straight but discovers that she also likes girls. In the end, she realises and accepts that she is bi.

Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith | 4-stars
Main themes: Fluidity, falling in love, homophobia, corporate and social responsibility
This story is about fluidity in different ways. The main character thinks she might be gay, while the person she falls in love with doesn’t stick to a label. It tackles homophobia, corporate and social responsibility and the feeling that comes with falling in love.

I Can’t Think Straight by Shamim Sarif | 3.5-stars
Main themes: Adult, religion, different cultures, love, POC
It’s about two women who each have a different religion. Tala is Christian and Leyla is Muslim. Their religions don’t allow them to fall in love with another woman, but they meet up in secret and choose to pursue their relationship.

If You Could Be Mine  by Sara Farizan | To read
Main themes: YA, secret love, set in Iran, feeling of not belonging, POC
Sahar and Nasrin have been in love since they were six and have kept their relationship hidden as Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love. Then, Nasrin’s parents have arranged her marriage. Nasrin wants to continue her relationship with Sahar in secret but Sahar dreams of being openly gay. Sahar thinks she has found the solution by becoming a man but is it worth it?

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura | To read
Main themes: YA, coming out, dad’s affair, racism, POC
Sixteen-year-old Sana is keeping the secret of her sexuality and is scared of telling her parents. When she does, life becomes a whole lot more complicated. At the same time, her father’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore.

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters | 3-stars
Main themes: YA, coming out, love, high school romance
It’s a young adult novel and it is about two high school girls that start liking each other. One of them is ready to come out, but the other insists that they remain a secret, which causes tension.

Landing by Emma Donoghue | 3-stars
Main themes: Adult, long-distance relationship, archivist, flight attendant
This novel features a long-distance relationship between two women that live in smalltown Canada and Ireland.

The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica edited by Barbara Cardy | 2-stars (I think that’s because I don’t like erotica… sorry!)
Includes BDSM/kinky themes

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson | 3.5-stars
Main themes: Coming of age, religion, sexuality
The novel is a coming of age story of a lesbian girl that grows up in an English Pentecostal community. Religion plays a huge part in this novel, and the main character struggles within the environment that has been created by her mother and this religion. In the end, she chooses to choose her own path and embrace her sexuality.

Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg | 5-stars (yes I am biased)
Main themes: First love, coming of age
This book is about 17-year old Flannery who goes off to Yale University and has so far seen nothing but the town she grew up in. Very quickly, she starts falling in love with this woman, 28-year old Anne who is very briefly her teacher (for 1 class).

Pages for Her by Sylvia Brownrigg | 3.5-stars
Main themes: Adult, family, long lost love
This is the sequel to Pages For You, written about 20 years after Pages for You and which is set twenty years later. The two woman, one now married to a man, and the other recently divorced, meet once again and rekindle the fire from the past. Apart from the theme of love, the novel focuses on what it’s like to be a woman, a wife and a mother.

Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler | 3-stars
Main themes: YA, sexuality, coming out
Ashleigh is in love but it’s not with her boyfriend. She’s struggling with the idea that she is in love with a girl and tries to repress this until eventually, she can’t. (Fun fact, I gifted this book to the girl who kept on kissing me and who lived next to me in uni halls, but who had a boyfriend.)

Skim by Mariko Tamaki | To read
Main themes: Coming of age, suicide, grief, depression, sexual identity, love, POC
A graphic novel about Kimberly who is a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls school. Her classmate commits suicide and guidance counsellors provide lectures on the cycle of grief while Kimberly sinks into a deeper depression and later starts questioning whether she is gay or not.

She Loves You, She Loves You Not by Julie Anne Peters | 2.5-stars
Main themes: YA, trust, rejection, love, high school romance
This is another young adult novel in which the main character has just moved to a new place. She is struggling to start over and doesn’t think her future will bring her anything good until she starts being romantically involved with another girl.

Sunstone by Stjepan Seijic | 4-stars
Main themes: BDSM, sex, love, friendship
Lisa is a budding writer who has kept her submissive desires secret for years, and Ally is a dominant and successful businesswoman who is somewhat of a loner. The story starts with their online chat which leads to them meeting in real life.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters | 4-stars
Main themes: Sexuality, gender, class, historical
Set in England in 1890, Nan King falls in love with Miss Kitty Butler, a performer. Nan moves away from home and becomes Kitty’s dresser and secret lover. Kitty breaks her heart and goes on her own sexual journey.

The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer | 2-stars
Main themes: YA, coming out, fame
The main characters in this book are best friends. One of them, Kendall, is becoming a big star in LA and to help her out, her best friend Payton moves to LA also. However, Payton sees Kendall than more as a best friend. They start crossing the line of friendship and have to deal with the spotlight that is shining on them in LA.

Vrijages by Pia Fraus (Dutch) | 3-stars
Main themes: Erotic literature, lesbian, bi, slight traces of kink
Told from the first-person perspective, they experience several exciting erotic encounters with women.

Women by Chloe Caldwell | To read
Main themes: First love, coming of age
A young woman moves from the countryside to the city and falls in love with another woman for the first time. The woman, Finn, is 19 years older than her, wears men’s clothes, has a cocky smirk of a smile and a long-term girlfriend.

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson | 4-stars
Main themes: Adult, loss, love, absence of gender in the narrator
The narrator of this book is not given a name or a gender and experiences a few unhappy love affairs. The narrator then finds their soulmate, Louise, but has to choose between their happiness or hers and becomes obsessed with the anatomy of the human body.

More queer books also by Jeanette Winterson, Sarah Waters, Nina Lacour, Emma Donoghue, Julie Anne Peters, Ali Smith, Alison Bechdel (comics).


Boy x Boy Novels

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin | 4.5-stars
Main themes: Adult, love and tragedy, sexual identity, masculinity, repression
Set in Paris in 1956, Giovanni is about to be guillotined. We now go a few months back to David (from the United States) who is ashamed of his homosexuality but he does date men. He meets Giovanni who is very openly gay and they become involved with each other to the extent that David starts living in his room.

A Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White | 3.5-stars
Main themes: Coming of age, guilt and self-hatred
This is a semi-autobiographical novel and features the story of a young gay man and his experience in the 1950s. I very vividly remember White’s description of corn-holding, lol. (This book is the first of a trilogy)

The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst | 3.5-stars
Main themes: Adult, AIDS, sex, history
William is a sex obsessed, arrogant and wealthy gay man in London in the early ’80s when AIDS is about to break out. He is writing the biography for the elderly Lord Nantwich who is also gay and had a much harder time growing up because of it.

The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin | 3.5-stars
Main themes: Adult, family relations, AIDS
Set in Ireland, Declan is gay and is about to die of AIDS, which brings his broken-up family together and they attempt to find common ground and make up before he dies.

Children Of The Sun by Max Schaefer | 4-stars
Main themes: Adult, skinheads, racism, secret gay membership
Partly set in 1970, fourteen-year-old Tony becomes a part of a skinhead movement of racism and violence where he has to hide his homosexuality. Partly set in 2003, James who lives with his boyfriend, researches the skinhead movement and its secret gay membership. The two end up crossing roads at the end of the novel in the present time.

Don’t Let Me Go by J. H. Trumble | 3.5-stars
Main themes: YA, high school, bullying, long-distance
A very angsty teenage novel about a high school couple, Nate and Adam, who first deals with bullying and then later with a long-distance relationship.

Where You Are by J. H. Trumble | 3.5-stars
Main themes: YA, student-teacher relationship
Close to being a young adult, Robert’s life is falling apart as his father is terminally ill. He receives support in his maths class and develops a consensual, non-creepy relationship with his teacher.

Just Between Us by J. H. Trumble | 3.5-stars
Main themes: YA, HIV
Seventeen-year-old Luke is par of marching band and starts falling for Curtis. Curtis tested positive for HIV and since has been too ashamed to tell anyone and cannot act on his feelings.

Into the Skid by J. H. Trumble | 2.5-stars
Main themes: Adult, family

Patrick’s marriage with Liz is strained while his son is struggling with depression. When Patrick was a teenager, he was romantically close to Isaiah but fled when he was about to step into adulthood. Now, he’s torn whether he made the right decision back then.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | 3-stars
Main themes: YA, coming out, internet romance
Follows the life of Simon who is a closeted gay at high school. He writes emails to another closeted gay classmate. Simon is forced to come out when he is blackmailed by someone who found out about his emails.

Guapa by Saleem Haddad | To read
Main themes: Adult, Arab society, politics, religion, POC
This book is set over 24 hours and follows Rasa, a 27-year old gay man living in an Arab country who is trying to find a way to live in the midsts of political and religious upheaval.

The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith | 3-stars
Main themes: Whodunit, murder, travel 
This isn’t strictly a queer novel, but the main character is gay and I think it’s quite important to his character.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Main themes: YA, romantic, friendship, family love, depression
Told from two different perspectives, from Will 1 who is a heterosexual teenager and Will 2 who is a depressed gay teenager. Over time, their stories become entangled.

More queer novels by Becky Albertalli, David Levithan, Colm Toibin, James Baldwin.


Transgender & Intersex Novels

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin | To read
Main themes: Intersex, exploration of identity and gender roles, coming of age
Max is the perfect student, a loving son and brother, captain of the football team and highly sought after by girls but he was born neither fully boy nor girl. Can he be accepted for who he is?

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides | 2-stars: Terrible representation, nice prose tho
Main themes: Gender identity, intersex, ethnic identity, American dream
The novel chronicles the effect of a mutated gene on three generations of a Greek family, causing momentous changes in the protagonist’s life. The narrator is Cal, an intersex man. The novel has different parts. It first depicts his family, followed by his grandparent’s migration to the United States and ends on Cal coming to terms with his gender identity.

Rough Paradise by Alex Butler | To read, POC
Main themes: Adult, Intersex, bi, harassment, exploring sexuality
Set in a working-class city, Terry is driven to the brink of suicide because of the harassment he receives for his bisexuality but is saved by love. They face the wrath of their families and society and involuntarily spend 20 years apart.

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg | 4-stars
Main themes: Adult, butch, cross-dressers, drag, gender identity, working-class
Set in New York in the 1950s. “Are you a boy or a girl?” is the question Jess is always asked. Partly autobiographical, Jess struggles with her gender and transitions to male and eventually back to female. Jess is an activist and often gets caught up in police raids during crossdress parties. (Free PDF made available by Leslie Feinberg.)

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson | To read
Main themes: YA, gender identity, bullying, friendship
David is an outsider, though to be gay and a freak but David wants to be a girl. He forms a close friendship with Leo who stood up for him in a fight.

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff | To read
Main themes: Identity, sex change operation
Set in Denmark, artist Gerda Wegener asks her husband Einar to pose as a female model for a painting. Things take an unexpected turn when this act triggers Einar to reignite his suppressed identification.


Asexual

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand | To read
Main themes: Love, asexual, female friendship, murder, monsters
Marion, Zoey and Val see their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where the beauty of gleaming horses grazing in rolling pastures and cold waves crashing against black cliffs is juxtaposed against rumours of an insidious monster and stories of disappearing girls. The book is told from different perspectives.

Asexual Fairy Tales by Elizabeth Hopkinson | To read
Once upon a time, our ancestors were much more honest and open about the spectrum of human sexuality. Among the fairy tales and myths they told were stories of androgynes, neither male nor female; of women and men who resist sex and marriage for other kinds of love; of chaste romances, miraculous childbirth and bodily transformations. These are the asexual fairy tales you will find in this book.


People of Colour

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand | To read
Main themes: Love, asexual, female friendship, murder, monsters
Marion, Zoey and Val see their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where the beauty of gleaming horses grazing in rolling pastures and cold waves crashing against black cliffs is juxtaposed against rumours of an insidious monster and stories of disappearing girls. The book is told from different perspectives. 

Skim by Mariko Tamaki | To read
Main themes: Coming of age, suicide, grief, depression, sexual identity, love
A graphic novel about Kimberly who is a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls school. Her classmate commits suicide and guidance counsellors provide lectures on the cycle of grief while Kimberly sinks into a deeper depression and later starts questioning whether she is gay or not.

If You Could Be Mine  by Sara Farizan | To read
Main themes: YA, secret love, set in Iran, feeling of not belonging
Sahar and Nasrin have been in love since they were six and have kept their relationship hidden as Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love. Then, Nasrin’s parents have arranged her marriage. Nasrin wants to continue her relationship with Sahar in secret but Sahar dreams of being openly gay. Sahar thinks she has found the solution by becoming a man but is it worth it?

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta | To read
Main themes: Accepting sexuality, war, family, mother-daughter relationship, religion
Set in 1960 Nigeria, Ijeoma, a girl, grows up in a war-torn Nigeria who must come to terms with her sexuality and the conflict in society.

I Can’t Think Straight by Shamim Sarif | 3.5-stars
Main themes: Adult, religion, different cultures, love
It’s about two women who each have a different religion. Tala is Christian and Leyla is Muslim. Their religions don’t allow them to fall in love with another woman, but they meet up in secret and choose to pursue their relationship.

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura | To read
Main themes: YA, coming out, dad’s affair, racism
Sixteen-year-old Sana is keeping the secret of her sexuality and is scared of telling her parents. When she does, life becomes a whole lot more complicated. At the same time, her father’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi | To read
Main themes: Dissociative identity, trauma, racial identity, magical realism, lgbt
It centres around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born “with one foot on the other side.” Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.

Guapa by Saleem Haddad | To read
Main themes: Adult, Arab society, politics, religion
This book is set over 24 hours and follows Rasa, a 27-year old gay man living in an Arab country who is trying to find a way to live in the midsts of political and religious upheaval.

Rough Paradise by Alex Butler | To read
Main themes: Adult, Intersex, bi, harassment, exploring sexuality
Set in a working-class city, Terry is driven to the brink of suicide because of the harassment he receives for his bisexuality but is saved by love. They face the wrath of their families and society and involuntarily spend 20 years apart.


Bi Characters

Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour | 3-stars
Main themes: YA, Coming of age, love, film, quest
The main character, Emi, works as a set designer and does not struggle with her sexuality. She ends up receiving a mysterious letter from a girl named Ava and throughout the book, she is trying to find her, while they fall in love with each other. Neither specifies whether they are a lesbian or bi.

Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith | 4-stars
Main themes: Fluidity, falling in love, homophobia, corporate and social responsibility
This story is about fluidity in different ways. The main character thinks she might be gay, while the person she falls in love with doesn’t stick to a label. It tackles homophobia, corporate and social responsibility and the feeling that comes with falling in love.

Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg | 5-stars (yes I am biased)
Main themes: First love, coming of age
This book is about 17-year old Flannery who goes off to Yale University and has so far seen nothing but the town she grew up in. Very quickly, she starts falling in love with this woman, 28-year old Anne who is very briefly her teacher (for 1 class).

Pages for Her by Sylvia Brownrigg | 3.5-stars
Main themes: Adult, family, long lost love
This is the sequel to Pages For You, written about 20 years after Pages for You and which is set twenty years later. The two woman, one now married to a man, and the other recently divorced, meet once again and rekindle the fire from the past. Apart from the theme of love, the novel focuses on what it’s like to be a woman, a wife and a mother.

Rough Paradise by Alex Butler | To read, POC
Main themes: Adult, Intersex, bi, harassment, exploring sexuality
Set in a working-class city, Terry is driven to the brink of suicide because of the harassment he receives for his bisexuality but is saved by love. They face the wrath of their families and society and involuntarily spend 20 years apart.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters | 4-stars
Main themes: Sexuality, gender, class, historical
Set in England in 1890, Nan King falls in love with Miss Kitty Butler, a performer. Nan moves away from home and becomes Kitty’s dresser and secret lover. Kitty breaks her heart and goes on her own sexual journey.

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson | 4-stars
Main themes: Adult, loss, love, absence of gender in the narrator
The narrator of this book is not given a name or a gender and experiences a few unhappy love affairs. The narrator then finds their soulmate, Louise, but has to choose between their happiness or hers and becomes obsessed with the anatomy of the human body.


Short Story Collections

An Anthology of Fiction by Trans Women of Color edited by Ellyn Pena | To read
The stories in this anthology confront major themes and issues in the lives of trans women of colour with profound honesty and attention toward helping one another heal. A story like “The Girl and the Apple,” by Jasmine Kabale Moore, not only unflinchingly describes the sense of ever-present danger that many of us feel in public spaces (including the hyper-vigilant condition of trauma that results from repeated exposure to intense scrutiny and violence).

Asexual Fairy Tales by Elizabeth Hopkinson | To read
Once upon a time, our ancestors were much more honest and open about the spectrum of human sexuality. Among the fairy tales and myths they told were stories of androgynes, neither male nor female; of women and men who resist sex and marriage for other kinds of love; of chaste romances, miraculous childbirth and bodily transformations. These are the asexual fairy tales you will find in this book.

We Were Always Here edited by Michael Lee Richardson | 3.5-stars
Includes content warnings
A collection of queer-themed short stories and poetry by Scottish authors. The stories and poems deal with themes such as assault, homophobia, racism, sexual abuse, suicide and feature bi, lesbian, gay and transgender people.

Vrijages by Pia Fraus (Dutch) | 3-stars
Main themes: Erotic literature, lesbian, bi, slight traces of kink
Told from the first-person perspective, they experience several exciting erotic encounters with women.


Non-Fiction/Memoir

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley | 4-stars
Main themes: Identity, faith, conversion therapy, family
Set in Arkansas, Garrard is the son of the soon-to-be Baptist pastor. Garrard is outed to his parents as gay when he is 19 and in college by another student who raped him. His parents give him the choice of being disowned or following conversion therapy. He then becomes enrolled in the Love in Action ex-gay program.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic | 3.5-stars
Main themes: Gender identity, coming out, death, family
When Alison goes to college, she comes out as a lesbian. A little while after, she discovers that her father is also gay, but he dies just a few weeks later. This graphic novel focuses on Alison’s relationship with her father.

Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel | 4.5-stars
Main themes: Self-analysis, family, panic attacks and anxiety
Sequel to Fun Home, Alison is trying to come to terms with her relationship with her mother. She portrays her childhood and her struggles in her current life as a result of this. She talks to her therapist a lot and uses insights from the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott. The story also shows the progress of how she wrote this memoir.

The BI-ble: An Anthology of Essays on Bisexuality | To read
In today’s social climate, bisexuals inhabit a liminal space between cultures, often misunderstood and criticised by both the straight community and the LGBTQ+. So was born The Bi-ble, a collection of original essays and personal narratives giving a platform to the thoughts and experiences relevant to bisexuals today.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson | To Read
Main themes: adoption, search for belonging, love, identity, home
Jeanette’s painful past continues to haunt her. She is in search of her identical mother and happiness.

Written for Book Matters | Fiction Books
Read about my coming out story here

Xx Marie Louise

15 Replies to “The Importance of LGBTQ Literature”

  1. collaredmichael

    I haven’t read many of these but I did read Boy Erased. To be honest I didn’t like it. The story is sad—no son or daughter should be treated that way by anyone much less their parents. But I find the book so boring. Just my take.
    That being said, this is a great list of fiction that isn’t normally advertised. A great post!!

    Reply
    • MLSlavePuppet Post author

      That makes sense haha. We all like different books and styles. Boy Erased is the last book I completely finished before my reading hiatus and by that point I already didn’t feel keen on reading so the book certainly did a lot for me!
      Thank you 🙂

      Reply
  2. May More

    Oh my goodness ML what a wonderful post – I feel very privileged that you have entered it into my meme. As to some of your books…
    Posy has added a review of Tipping the Velvet and it is a book I very much want to read that. Another of your choices that I think I should read is boy meets girl.
    I have read The Talented Mr Ripley and Oranges are not the Only Fruit…Both are great books…
    This post is a wonderful resource ML
    May x

    Reply
    • MLSlavePuppet Post author

      Thank you May, I’m really glad you’re happy with it Oh she did? I still need to check everyones posts out. Great recommendation haha. If you do read boy meets girl, let me know what you think. x

      Reply
  3. everay2013

    I don’t’ know why but I have been following you for ages without really noting your posts –until the post about your caning by Miss Sultry Belle caught my eye. Now I read everything you write and love your insights into the life of a lesbian femsub. This post is brilliant. I see you haven’t read Carol yet. The book is amazing and has depths that the film , good though it is, doesn’t have, and particularly the complexity of Carol as a person. There are places in the book where I empathized with the characters to the point of feeling physical pain. I am sure you will love it and look forward to reading your thoughts
    Eve x.
    Oh and do read the Night Watch by Sarah Waters

    Reply
    • MLSlavePuppet Post author

      Thank you so much, I feel honoured you’ve been reading everything since the caning post. Oh, yes I really want to. I’ve seen the movie but I was hoping the book would be more in depth. I wanted to read it last year but couldn’t find it in my library. I think I’m reading ‘Women’ first as I own a copy of that and might get Carol after. I’ve been trying to find a queer book that grips me again and the way you describe Carol, I think it might do just that. And Night Watch is indeed on my to read list as well! x

      Reply
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