30 Best LGBTQ Books To Read During Pride Month
When done right, Pride Month is a time to celebrate and educate. And while you could always curl up on the couch and hit play a movie about queer love, these LGBTQ books take things a step further.
All of the classics, bestsellers, and new releases on this list put gay characters at the heart of the story — or at the very least, are written by authors who identify as LGBTQ+. There really is something for everyone, whether you’re in the mood for something short and sweet (romance or YA) or more true to life (non-fiction).
Seamlessly blending humor and heart, these awe-inspiring reads shed light on the pain that members of the LGBTQ community have endured, and sometimes continue to endure, as well as the joy that comes with social acceptance and self-love. . Some books will warm your heart, others will break it, and many will inspire you to work for a fairer and kinder world.
Below, find the best LGBTQ books for teens and adults to make your library as diverse (and beautiful!) as the world we live in. This way you can keep the feeling of Pride Month going all year long.
“The Color Violet” by Alice Walker
First came the book, then came the movie and the Broadway musical. Told through a series of letters, “The Color Purple” follows Celie and Nettie as they experience the many heartaches, joys and pains throughout four decades of their lives. Celia turns to sharp-tongued Shug Avery for comfort — and a relationship blossoms.
“Darling Girl” by Morgan Rogers
On the verge of burnout, Grace Potter takes a well-deserved trip to Las Vegas and leaves with more than she bargained for. There, she marries a woman she barely knows, allowing her to escape the growing stress of her parents’ expectations in a tough job market. But she can only run so long until it’s finally time to face reality.
“I Wish You All the Best” by Mason Deaver
Three words forever change the life of Ben De Backer: “I am non-binary”. Their parents reject them, forcing Ben to move in with their older sister. And while they hope to keep their last half of the school year as low-key as possible, the kids at school have other plans. Fortunately, Nathan Allen comes to the rescue – first as a friend, then as something more.
“Don’t Cry For Me” by Daniel Black
Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s (almost) gone. As the end of his life approaches, Jacob hopes that the wrongs that ruined his relationship with his gay son Isaac will be righted. One letter at a time, he acknowledges his flaws and fears — some that he was born into as a black man in America, others that are the result of tragedies unknown to his son.
“Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin
James Baldwin’s 1956 novel was groundbreaking at the time, but its message about love and loss is still incredibly relevant today. When David’s girlfriend is on a trip, he meets Giovanni, an Italian bartender who questions his sexuality. Caught between love and lust, David must confront the lies he told himself before losing everything – and everyone – who matters to him.
“How We Fight for Our Lives” by Saeed Jones
Poet Saeed Jones’ coming-of-age memoir is an honest and refreshing look at the reality of being a black gay man in the South. As Jones reflects on his childhood and teenage years, he is plagued with questions about how the people around him found ways to help and hurt him.
“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters
Just when Reese thought she had the perfect life, his girlfriend Amy threw a snowball: she plans to detransition and become Ames. As Reese lets the stress and sadness of the situation get the better of her, Ames moves on and begins a romantic relationship with her boss, Katarina. Soon, Katarina finds out she’s pregnant, leading Ames to wonder if he’s made a major mistake or if, perhaps, this will bring him closer to what he really wants.
Yerba Buena by Nina Lacour
On a quest to find their way in the world, Sara and Emilie reunite. Even with their eyes fixed on the future, the two women are repeatedly brought down by the ghosts of their past. But when the odds are against them, their love triumphs over everything.
“The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai
Learn how the AIDS epidemic affected the LGBTQ community in the 1980s and generations to come. Told through the lens of Yale Tishman and his friend’s little sister, this heartbreaking read shows how these two people, despite being born decades apart, are still tormented by the pain and grief of those around them.
“Crush” by Alice Oseman
The first volume sets up the friendship-turned-romance of Nick and Charlie that viewers of the hit Netflix show have come to know and love. Rewind to the beginning when the unlikely romance first blossomed and get ready to warm your heart once again.
“Long Live The Fatherless Daughter Tribe” door T Kira Madden
Acclaimed essayist T Kira Madden takes you straight to her world: Boca Raton, Florida, a sunny paradise riddled with extravagance, white-collar crime and racial inequity. As she recounts her childhood as a queer, biracial teenager, Madden uncovers the hard truths about finding love and forgiveness in the midst of trauma.
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
The Kaufman sisters never found their happily ever after. Jo settled down to raise a family with a man she never loved, while thrill-seeking Bethie never committed to anyone — or anything. With a changing world at their feet, the two women examine whether they really have enough time to put things right.
“Here Comes the Sun” by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Margot has always used her sexuality to her advantage, and she fears her little sister will follow in her footsteps. But when the future of the village is threatened, she turns a new page and aspires to financial independence. The roadblock: Margot is in love with a woman, which is forbidden in her native country.
“You Exist Too Much” by Zaina Arafat
All her life, Palestinian-American Zaina Arafat has felt “too much” – her mother’s words, not her own. As an adult, she finds herself in an identity struggle on many levels, trying to come to terms with her sexuality, gender and culture. Throughout, she learns that her past traumas continue to shape her, for better or for worse.
“Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel marries two genres – memoir and graphic novel – in this gripping read, which has been adapted into a Tony Award-winning musical. When Bechdel’s father dies just weeks after they come out, she wonders if their truths had any influence. Seeking answers, she sets off on a journey to learn more about the legacy left by her late father.
“Erased Boy” by Garrard Conley
Read the memoirs that inspired the movie of the same name. When Garrard Conley is turned in by his parents, they put him through a 12-step conversion therapy program to “cure” him of his homosexuality. There, it became very clear that nothing could erase who he really is. This revelation leads him on a path of forgiveness with himself, God and his loved ones.
“The Guncle” by Steven Rowley
Patrick, once famous sitcom star, is a proud Guncle (Gay Uncle Patrick, actually). But when he becomes their main guardian, he is forced to make major changes in his life and examine the example he sets for the little ones he loves. A versatile charmer, this book is equally humorous and heartwarming, making it the perfect beach read.
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Radical for its time, Rubyfruit Jungle introduced the world to Molly Bolt, the adopted daughter of a Southern couple. She is unashamed to live her truth and loves boldly, rejecting societal norms no matter the consequences. Almost 50 years after its release, it remains a powerful example of loving who you are, even if the world around you doesn’t.
“Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart
Growing up in Glasgow in the 1980s, young Shuggie Bain is described as ‘not well’ by neighbors and relatives. The coded language is loaded with implications. Shuggie is unlike his siblings for several reasons, including the fact that he is the only one who has to take care of their mother, who struggles with a severe alcohol addiction. In this harrowing Booker Prize-winning novel, Shuggie charts his own course.
“100 Boyfriends” by Brontez Purnell
Brotnez Purnell’s definition of “boyfriend” varies from relationship to relationship — but that’s exactly what makes it such a juicy read. You won’t find a buttoned-up gay love story in these pages: Purnell unearths the dysfunction of black, broke, gay men falling in love and in love (or, well, lust).
“Juliet Breathe” by Gabby Rivera
This YA novel sparkles with humor and an original voice. Juliet leaves her family in the Bronx for a summer – and by leaving the people who supposedly know her best, gets to know herself better. Before flying to Portland to work with the feminist writer she admires, Juliet comes out to her family. The mess she leaves behind is an essential part of her journey.
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
This bestselling novel rewrites the Prince Charming trope. In this royal romantic comedy, the Prince of England and heir to the throne is gay and yearns for the son of the first female President of the United States. The romance is exactly as important and exciting as it sounds from the description. With the upcoming film adaptation, read the book to capture the magic.
“We Do What We Do In The Dark” by Michelle Hart
Michelle Hart’s debut novel is melancholic and funny at the same time, written with thrillingly precise language that will have you reaching for a pen to underline sentences. Mallory, alone during her freshman year in college, is attracted to an older, attractive professor. The professor, a married woman, lets Mallory into her life, forever changing theirs. This isn’t the kind of business novel you’ve read before: Hart cleverly disrupts tropes and won’t let you fill in archetypes when you could.
“Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit” by Jeanette Winterson
Jeanette Winterson based this novel, part fairy tale and part coming-of-age story, on her own life. The narrator, also named Jeanette, uses humor to deal with her adoptive mother’s controlling ways. Jeanette knows there is life beyond the bubble of her religious upbringing. She listens to the voice in her head, not her mother’s booming voice, even when she’s most authoritative. The award-winning book is as much about coming out as it is about shaping your own story.
“Call Me By Your Name” by André Aciman
Do you dare to eat a peach? André Aciman’s Italian novel is unabashedly steeped in nostalgia and summertime mythology. Elio is lounging in his family’s Italian villa when Oliver walks in and his life changes forever. Oliver studies with Elio’s father and the two quickly bond, realizing that together they can achieve a more meaningful and immediate kind of existence than without each other.