June 24th, 2022

5 beautiful novels by LGBTQ+ authors to read this Pride Month

June 2022 is Pride Month. Pride was originally held as a protest, first organised by New York activist Brenda Howard in 1970. This protest was staged against oppressive laws faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community, both in the US and around the world.

Today, Pride is both a celebration of progress and a continued fight for equal rights and opportunities for all.

Throughout Pride Month, many organisations take the opportunity to stand up for and celebrate LGBTQ+ rights, freedoms, and expressions. Whether or not you are a member of this community yourself, Pride Month could provide an amazing opportunity to step into the shoes of another individual and explore their reality.

For many, the best way to engage with social issues and learn about the experiences of others is through reading.

So, here are five beautiful novels by LGBTQ+ authors to read in Pride Month.

1. Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

Considered a seminal text by the lesbian community, Jeanette Winterson’s 1985 coming-of-age novel Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is an unmissable book to read this month. Winterson was given a CBE in 2018, and has won several awards.

Framing a teenage girl’s journey to self-discovery within the genre of magic realism, Oranges is a semi-autobiographical tale set in a remote Yorkshire town. The main character, unsurprisingly named Jeanette, is raised in a Pentecostal community where same-sex relationships are strictly prohibited.

The novel explores: mother-daughter relationships; the theme of religious temptation and persecution; and the tension between traditional upbringings and claiming your authentic identity.

You can buy Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit online or in your local bookshop.

2. Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts

Maggie Nelson is an award-winning American novelist, essayist, and poet, described by many as “defying definition” when it comes to her writing.

Nelson’s work covers a range of subjects including gender identity; abstract expressionist painting; violence against women; motherhood, and American culture.

Nelson’s autobiographical book, The Argonauts, explores her relationship with her transgender spouse, Harry, and their life as partners and parents to two children.

A Guardian review describes The Argonauts as “resistant to summary, though describing it as a love story might come closest. It is, after all, about love and its fruits: both the falling in love and the maintaining of affection, devotion, tenderness.”

Released in 2015, it mixes autobiography with a poetic prose style and philosophical theory, completely immersing the reader in Nelson’s most private thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

The Argonauts can be purchased from an online bookshop or in store.

3. James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room

James Baldwin, American writer and black rights activist, is famous for penning stories with complex characters, many of whom wrestle with their sexuality.

He is perhaps best known for his seminal manuscript, I Am Not Your Negro, which was sadly never finished, as Baldwin passed away while writing it. I Am Not Your Negro has since been made into a documentary that can be watched on most streaming platforms.

Baldwin’s 1956 novella Giovanni’s Room tells of David, an American man unhappily engaged to a woman who has travelled to Spain to contemplate their future marriage. Remaining in Paris, David meets Giovanni, an Italian bartender, and the two embark on a life-changing relationship embroiled in tragedy from the very start.

Depicting the lived experiences of gay men in 1950s Europe, Baldwin’s novel is an empathetic journey into sexual identity, societal obligations, the Parisian city landscape, and love.

You can find Giovanni’s Room online or in your local bookshop.

4. Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese American poet, essayist, and novelist. His debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2020.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous follows the lives of its protagonist, Little Dog, his mother, and grandmother. Written as “a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read”, it explores themes of: living in America as an immigrant; the relationships between parents and children; intergenerational trauma; and the intersection between sexuality and nationality.

Vuong has also released two collections of poetry and several essays.

You can buy On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous from an online bookshop or in store.

5. Alex Sánchez’s Boyfriends With Girlfriends

Alex Sánchez’s 2011 young adult novel, Boyfriends With Girlfriends, is a coming-of-age story about a group of lovestruck teenagers, all of whom are attempting to figure out exactly who they are.

A refreshingly honest take on the spectrum of sexual identity, Boyfriends With Girlfriends draws on the subject of queerness with wit and tenderness.

The novel carefully explores the lives of teens who each has their own unique upbringing and culture – all of which contribute towards their relationships to themselves and each other.

Sánchez, a Mexican American author, is the recipient of several accolades, including the Lambda Literary Award. His work often explores the theme of bisexuality through the lens of young adults.

Boyfriends With Girlfriends can be purchased at an online bookshop or in person.

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