June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. To celebrate, you could watch a bunch of queer movies and TV shows. Or, you could support queer-owned fashion and beauty brands. You could also read one of these recently published LGBTQ+-themed books. Without further ado, 15 of the best new (and new-ish) LGBTQ+ books to read right now.
15 New (and New-Ish) LGBTQ+ Books to Read This Pride Month
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Even before she was writing for publications like The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, writer Gutowitz was enthralled by pop culture. In her debut essay collection, she explores identity, desire and self-worth as they relate to the mainstreaming of lesbian culture. A blend of personal stories, sharp observations and whip-smart humor (like “An Exhaustive Explanation of Everything in Pop Culture That Is Undeniably Lesbian”), this timely collection seeks to help us make sense of our collective pop-culture past even as it points the way toward a very queer future.
When it stood in NYC’s Greenwich Village from 1929 to 1974, The Women’s House of Detention was a nexus for the tens of thousands of women, trans men and gender-nonconforming people who lived in its crowded cells. As he reports on the little-known lives of hundreds of incarcerated New Yorkers as well as some of the prison’s famous inmates like Angela Davis, historian Ryan dives deep into misogyny, racism, state-sanctioned sexual violence, colonialism, sex work and the failures of prison reform.
Jen Winston is bisexual…she thinks. Her whip-smart debut follows her attempts to make sense of herself as she explores the role of the male gaze, what it means to be "queer enough" and how to overcome bisexual stereotypes when you're the poster child for all of them. Drawing on personal experiences with sexism and biphobia, Greedy examines what it means to find stability in a state of flux and define yourself on your own terms.
Gilda is a 20-something, animal-loving lesbian atheist who can’t stop thinking about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind, she decides to go to free therapy at a local Catholic church. There, she’s greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she's there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the church’s recently deceased receptionist. From trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass to hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, Gilda’s story is equal parts heartwarming and deadpan funny.
At 27, Cho Norie is working an office job in Tokyo. While her colleagues worry about the economy, marriage, and children, she's forced to keep her life—including her sexuality and the violent attack that prompted her move to Japan from Taiwan—hidden. Kotomi's debut novel (first published in Japanese in 2017 but just now translated for English readers) is an intimate and powerful account of a search for hope after trauma and coming to terms with what it's like to be a gay person in Taiwan and corporate Japan.
In this heartbreaking novel, a father tries to make amends with his gay son through letters written on his deathbed. As Jacob lies dying, he writes a letter to his only son, Isaac, who he hasn’t met or spoken to in many years. He writes about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extends back to slavery, secrets from Jacob's tumultuous relationship with Isaac's mother and the shame he carries from the dissolution of their family. Through it all, Black (They Tell Me of a Home) focuses on the lived experiences of Black fathers and queer sons and offers an authentic and ultimately hopeful portrait of reckoning and reconciliation.
A young woman has a life-altering affair with a much older married woman in this buzzy debut novel. The story follows Mallory, a freshman in college reeling from her mother's recent death, who begins sleeping with a stranger she meets at the gym in secret. Desiring not only the woman but also the idea of who she is when they're together, Mallory retreats from the rest of the world, solidifying a sense of aloneness that will haunt her for years even after the affair ends.
In this dark comedy, Frances, a restaurant worker in London, is drowning her sorrows at a bar after a tough breakup when she meets the needy but well-meaning Elaine, and the two end up sleeping together. Faced with mounting pressure from her drug dealer, Frances asks Elaine to move in with her so she can use Elaine’s rent money to pay off her debt. Unfortunately, this seemingly romantic overture makes Elaine even more sex-crazed and head-over-heels in love. Frances fears she may never escape the relationship, so she decides to sedate Elaine…just until the debt is paid, at which point Frances can end the relationship. The plan, as you might imagine, goes horribly awry, and forces Frances to consider her past relationships in a new light.
Author, poet, and literary arts organizer Michelle Tea knows there's no one right way to make a family. Her candid and irreverent memoir is about her route to parenthood as a 40-year-old queer, uninsured woman who, along the way, falls in love with a genderqueer partner a decade her junior, attempts biohacking herself a baby with underground fertility meds and eventually enters the "Fertility Industrial Complex" in order to carry a baby.
This campy thriller follows a queer academic who is skeptical of elaborate wedding rituals, despite being asked to be her best friend’s maid of honor. As the wedding weekend approaches, a series of ominous occurrences lead her to second-guess her decision. Moreover, it seems that everyone in the bridal party is out to get her. Perhaps even the bride herself.
Singer, actor and activist Janelle Monáe’s third studio album, Dirty Computer, was released in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim. The Grammy-nominated album introduced a world in which thoughts could be controlled or erased by a select few. In this collection of stories, Monáe—along with some of their closest collaborators—expands upon the Afrofuturistic world of the album, exploring time and memory, queerness, race, gender plurality, love and freedom.
In this adult fiction debut by award-winning YA author LaCour (We Are Okay), Sara is a sought-after bartender at a glamorous restaurant in Los Angeles. Across the city, Emilie is in a holding pattern when she takes a job arranging flowers at the same restaurant. The morning Emilie and Sara first meet, their connection is immediate. But the damage both women carry, and the choices they have made, pulls them apart again and again. When Sara's old life catches up to her just as Emilie has finally gained her own sense of purpose, they’re forced to decide if their love is more powerful than their pasts.
Queer romance, family secrets and ambition abound in this summery story of two families: the Kellys—loud, loving Australians—and the Lees—sophisticated, aloof Americans. The two clans have nothing in common, except for the fact that their daughters are married. While vacationing on a remote island off the coast of Queensland, a nearby volcano erupts and the families are stranded together for six weeks. During those weeks, everyone is forced to question what—or who—they really want, along the way proving it's never too late to change your destiny.
After a diary collection and a best-of anthology, beloved memoirist Sedaris is back with a new book of personal essays. As in his previous best-selling essay collections, Happy-Go-Lucky chronicles Sedaris’s life, pulling from his daily interactions and observations of seemingly ordinary moments that instantly turn absurd, with commentary on the pandemic, his relationship with his father and more.
James Whiteside is an American Ballet Theatre principal dancer who's redefining what it means to be a man in ballet. His memoir in essays explains in absurd detail how he got to be a primo ballerina—including musings on the tragically fated childhood pets who taught him how to feel, ill-advised partying at summer dance camps and imagined fantastical run-ins with Jesus on Grindr. Overall, it’s an unapologetic celebration of queerness, self-expression, friendship, pushing boundaries and more.