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Books You Need To Read During Pride Month, According To LGBT Authors

Time to seriously queer up your reading list.

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We asked some of our favorite LGBT authors to suggest the one book they consider required reading this Pride month. Needless to say, you've got quite the list to get started on.

1. Michael Arceneaux

Arceneaux has covered issues related to sexuality, religion, and race for the Guardian, among many other publications. The author's highly anticipated debut memoir, I Can’t Date Jesus, is set for release July 2018.

Recommendation: Darnell Moore’s No Ashes In The Fire

"In his debut book, Moore has given us a beautifully crafted memoir about the uniqueness of the Black queer experience. His reflections on institutionalized racism, classism, homophobia, and his personal journey in the midst of these barriers are vital because all too often are the least among us left out of the conversation.

And the compassion he gives to those who have both loved and harmed him speak to his amazing spirit — a spirit that leaps off of the page. As a longtime fan of Moore’s work, I am elated for his literary compassion. We need now more than ever."

Get it from Amazon for $19.59, Barnes & Noble for $21.78, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.


2. Samantha Irby

In addition to writing the blog bitches gotta eat, Irby is the author of two critically acclaimed essay collections, Meaty and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (and if you haven't read them yet, you've gotta add them to your list).

Recommendation: Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Riverdale Avenue Books / Via Amazon

"Juliet is a Latinx baby lesbian from the Bronx on a quest to understand queerness and intersectional feminism and identity. She's such a breath of fresh air: funny, curious, likable, and her story of trying to find herself and reconcile all of her parts as she heads to Portland in search of a progressive community is super relatable. This is a magical book."

Get it from Amazon for $18.98, Barnes & Noble for $19.99, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

3. Roxane Gay

Jay Grabiec

Gay, a true force of nature, is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Hunger and the essay collection Bad Feminist, as well as the novel An Untamed State and two short story collections, Difficult Women and Ayiti. (Ayiti was just re-released as a paperback this month, and you can read an excerpt right here).

Recommendation: Stone Butch Blues By Leslie Feinberg

ReadHowYouWant / Via amazon

"It was a novel I read when I was a young queerling and it's something that has stayed with me for the past twenty years. I particularly admire the way the prose articulates working class butch lesbian identity and how Jess grows into themselves over the course of the narrative. There are many haunting, poignant moments throughout and though the book is imperfect, it is essential."


4. Janet Mock

Writer, activist, producer, and actor who proves time and time again there is simply nothing she can't do. Mock's books include her debut memoir, Redefining Realness, and its 2017 follow up Surpassing Certainty.

Recommendation: Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility Edited by Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley and Johanna Burton

MIT press

"As someone who has spent her life seeking reflections of myself in visual and print media, this anthology by my dear friend Reina Gossett was a salve, helping me unpack the images I've taken in of myself as a trans woman — and the ones I am creating through my own writings and Pose."

(Editor's note: Mock is currently writing for the FX series Pose, about the drag bag scene of '80s Harlem, which is the queer fairy tale we need on TV right now.)

Get it from Amazon for $34.72, Barnes & Noble for $39.96, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

5. Thomas Page McBee

Bee is a writer and journalist whose writing has appeared in the New York Times, among many other publications. McBee's first novel, Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man, was released in 2014. His new book, Amateur, will be released this upcoming August.

Recommendation: David Wojnaroqicz's Close To The Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration

Vintage Publishing

"AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz's Close To The Knives was brought to my attention a decade after its release by the queer writer Lisa King, who I met the sweaty, queer summer I spent in New York between my freshman and sophomore years in college. This was back before 9/11, before W., before Trump, before Lisa died in 2006, the first of many queer friends lost too young in a world inhospitable to queerness.

I think of Lisa every time I re-read Close To The Knives, the stunning, lyrical third book by the then-established political artist. Wojnarowicz's memoir is gorgeous and experimental and fierce, a painting with words, and mostly a snapshot of the wild beauty of queer outsiderness, despite the brutal power structures that punish us for being ourselves. It is the book that allows me my grief and my joy in this trans body, and I re-read it whenever I need to be reminded that in order to remember that the world belongs to me as much as it does anyone, I can honor a queer history of fight and feeling, of loss and the transcendent power of what can never be lost: Our truth."

Get it from Amazon for $12.76, Barnes & Noble for $14.15, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.


Recommendation: Rosalind Rosenberg's Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray

Oxford University Press

"The riveting story of the brilliant lack lesbian lawyer with a male/trans identity, who was always the first and always the only, but who developed race theory that became the basis for Thurgood Marshall's case for Brown V Board. She was, in a sense, the first intersectional thinker, always bringing race, sex, and gender, to her life and her visionary work."

7. Brontez Purnell

Purnell is an author, dancer, and musician who lives in Oakland, California. He recently won the 2018 Whiting Award for fiction for Since I Laid My Burden Down.

Recommendation: The Faggots And Their Friends Between Revolutions by Larry Mitchell

Calamus Books / Via

"I would say that one book that totally gets me every time is The Faggots And Their Friends Between Revolutions by Larry Mitchell (drawings by Ned Asta). I first got a copy of this sacred out of print text when I was 23. It’s written in prose, fables, and short stories and is about the secret life of fags and women hiding in the world of a ruthless overlord (i.e. Patriarchy). It’s heartbreaking and so in vogue with the times despite being written in 1977."


8. Gabby Rivera

Rivera, a queer Latinx writer, released her debut novel Juliet Takes a Breath (mentioned earlier on this list) to wide critical acclaim. She is also a writer for Marvel on America, America Chavez’s solo series.

Recommendation: Tee Franklin's Bingo Love

Amazon/ Image Comics

"Bingo Love is one the greatest love stories ever. Yup. Let's cast Janelle Monae and Tessa Thomspon as Hazel and Mari, the two teenage best friends that fall in love at church in New Jersey during the 1960s, and call it a day. Bingo Love spills forth so much genuine affection, joy, and self-care that you can't help but wrap yourself up in it. Thank you Tee for this glorious ode to queer Black love."

(Editor's note: You can read a few pages from Bingo Love here.)

Get it from Amazon for $8.68, Barnes & Noble for $8.49, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

9. Eileen Myles

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Myles, a poet and writer, has published more than a dozen books of fiction and poetry, including the iconic Chelsea Girls. One of their most recent works, Afterglow, is a memoir recounting the life of their beloved dog, Rosie. Their next poetry collection, Evolution, will be published in the fall of 2018.

Recommendation: Jordy Rosenberg's Confessions Of The Fox

One World / Via Amazon

"It's a rich immensely dirty detailed account of a trans person living in 18th C. London. Such a good read, so palpable and fantastic, dizzying and compulsively readable novel. Love!"

Get it from Amazon for $24.30.


10. Carmen Maria Machado

Machado's essays, fiction, and criticism have appeared in the New Yorker and the New York Times, among many other publications. If you haven't read her debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, go ahead and add that to your list.

Recommendation: Ruby Fruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

"A friend gave it to me in college right after I came out—a kind of "Welcome to Queerness" present—and it's never lost its charm. Molly Bolt is one of the best gay characters in literature; there's something so hilarious and sexy and fearless about her. She feels immortal to me, and the book is so delightfully playful and strange; an erotic bildungsroman for the ages."

Get it from Amazon for $12.80, Barnes & Noble for $13.82, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

11. Jennifer Finney Boylan

Boylan is a novelist, activist, short story writer, contributing opinion writer at the New York Times, and the author of no less than fifteen books, including the bestselling memoir She's Not There: A Life In Two Genders. Her latest work includes the literary thriller Long Black Veil.

Recommendation: Joy Ladin's Through The Door Of Life

"One of my favorite queer books is Joy Ladin’s Through The Door Of Life, which is a trans memoir with a difference — Joy is, of course, the first transgender professor at an Orthodox Jewish institution (Stern College of Yeshiva University in New York.) She writes with passion and wisdom about being an LGBTQ person of faith, and how being trans informed and deepened her connection to God. It’s a beautifully written book."

Get it from Amazon for $16.12, Barnes & Noble for $19.58, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.


12. Kristen Arnett

Arnett is a fiction and essay writer who has been awarded several literary prizes for her writing. Be sure to check out her debut short story collection, Felt In The Jaw.

Recommendation: Alexander Chee's Edinburgh

Mariner Books

"I first encountered Alex Chee's Edinburgh on a plane ride home from a writing event. I wound up finishing it during that flight and openly wept for most of the reading. It's a book that assesses young queerness without forcing the lens on a coming out trope. It also acknowledges how growing up queer means something different for everybody — and how being queer as a young person affects your queerness as an adult.

Because it's so deeply entrenched in music and what it means to look at art that way, I felt like I was accessing all the myriad ways it means to be gay. The language is delicate and deliberate. Every sentence is a revelation. This is a book I would recommend to anyone, anytime, because it is so deeply, wonderfully beautiful."

Get it from Amazon for $11.29, Banres & Noble for $12.31, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

Recommendation: Avram Finkelstein's After Silence

University of California Press

"Avram Finkelstein’s After Silence, the story of the people behind the iconic "Silence = Death" slogan, tells a story of inspiring one of the greatest of recent queer political movements — and has advice and lessons for us as we face, once again, an existential threat from the conservative right wing."

Get it from Amazon for $20.21, Barnes & Noble for $24.25, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

Sarah Karlan is a deputy editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.

Contact Sarah Karlan at

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