Welcome to my post! Today I wanted to share some LGBTQ book recs in honour of LGBT+ history month here in the UK. I do love having these months because it allows us to focus in on that group where we might not all the time, especially as I’m bisexual, but it’s still really important to keep reading about these experiences all year round, so hopefully you can enjoy some of these recs throughout the year. On top of that, it’s important to read experiences not just from people with different gender and sexualities, but also from different cultures, so I tried to reflect that in my recommendations too. I also just wanted to mention that I have a post recommending subtle LGBTQ books for more recs. Now on with the post!
Last Night at the Telegraph Club
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.
America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.
Starting off with an actual historical book, Last Night at the Telegraph Club is set in 1950s San Francisco, with a backdrop of McCarthyism, the Chinese Civil War and the treatment of Asian Americans. On top of that, you get to experience the undercover lesbian community and nightlife during that time, so there’s so much historical knowledge to gain. But central to the plot is Lily’s exploration of her sexuality, some romance, and everything that comes with that during the time. It’s by no means a perfect book as there were some parts that felt slightly underdeveloped, but it’s a great read for most age ranges and whether you generally like historical fiction or not.
The Art of Drag
Before RuPaul’s Drag Race propelled the cultural phenomenon into the global spotlight, drag had been around for thousands of years. Immerse yourself in the rich history of drag in this lusciously illustrated guide.
The history of drag has been formed by many intersections: fashion, theatre, sexuality and politics—all coming together to create the show stopping entertainment millions witness today. In this extensive work, Jake Hall delves deep into the ancient beginnings of drag, to present day and beyond. Vibrant illustrations enhance the rich history from Kabuki theatre to Shakespearean, the revolutionary Stonewall riots to the still thriving New York ballroom scene. Nothing will go undocumented in this must-have documentation of all things drag.
I also wanted to add in a non-fiction book here, which is easy to read but contains a lot of information and history about drag. I would highly recommend if you already interact with drag, for example watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, but don’t know much about the community. It’s also a graphic novel so again it’s good for everyone and has incredible art in it. Also, it doesn’t have very many reviews on Goodreads so it would be amazing if more people read it!
The Black Flamingo
A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.
Going along with the drag theme, The Black Flamingo is a YA contemporary book in verse about a teen becoming a drag artist. It was super easy and quick to read, which talks about race as well as gender and sexuality. It is dark at times but the overall message is heart-warming and all about embracing your identity.
In the Dream House
For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.
Here is another non-fiction book with this memoir about an abusive queer relationship, something that isn’t talked about much. But this book tells us about it in a unique style, which combines statistics with the author’s experience, all through different lenses and narratives with each chapter. It is a tough, emotional read but so worthwhile and informative.
The Sunbearer Trials
Welcome to The Sunbearer Trials, where teen semidioses compete in a series of challenges with the highest of stakes, in this electric new Mexican-inspired fantasy from Aiden Thomas, the New York Times bestselling author of Cemetery Boys.
For trans rep and Mexican-inspired mythology, try The Sunbearer Trials! With plenty of action and suspense, humour, friendships and rivalries, and a bigger looming threat, I highly recommend this YA fantasy which released at the end of last year.
A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice.
Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends—some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defences while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community.
Real Life is my most recent read and sadly lowest rated out of the list, but it was still an important read that I got a lot out of and I can see how other people enjoyed this more. It focuses on Wallace’s experiences as a black man and what he faces daily, his identity as a gay man and relationships, grief and guilt, the uncertainty of leaving education and going into ‘real life’, and even more. I will say it is a very heavy read and definitely check the trigger warnings as there is a lot of dark things that are discussed such as racism, homophobia, child abuse and sexual assault. It is beautifully written though and has a unique perspective and voice.
Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these? What other LGBTQ books would you recommend?
great list!! the black flamingo is fantastic!! as far as bi rep goes, have you read perfect on paper by any chance? definitely some of my favorite/most authentic bi rep I’ve read as a bi person
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thank you and yes it’s amazing! oo i heard about it a bit when it first came out but i haven’t properly checked it out, thanks for the recommendation!
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