October 2022 will celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month in various countries globally. So, it’s the perfect time to celebrate or educate yourself on the issues the LGBTQ+ community still fight every day. From heartbreaking coming out stories, to the harsh realities that people of both queer and transgender backgrounds have faced…we’ve put together an essential list of books to further educate on LGBTQ+ history and culture.
1. Bad Gays: A Homosexual History
This new book by Ben Miller and Huw Lemmey is based on the famous popular podcast series of the same name. It asks us what we can learn about LGBTQ history, sexuality and identity through gay villains, baddies and failures and a range of iconic life stories that challenge current assumptions about sexual identity. A part-historical biography combined with key moments in history…it’s an enlightening read this month.
2. Boy Erased
Now an award-winning film, Boy Erased is a memoir written by Garrard Conley, retelling the struggles of his childhood in which he was forced into conversion therapy by his religious family after revealing he was gay. The book exposes the harsh realities of gay conversion programmes, which Conley suggests lack compassion and cause more harm than good. Indeed, one of the best LGBTQ+ books to read.
3. The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle
Written by Lillian Faderman, The Gay Revolution is an important piece of literature which tells the history of the gay and lesbian movement, taking readers back to the 1950s – when it was criminal to be gay. The book highlights important points in LGBTQ+ history, from revolutionary protests in the 60s, the AIDs epidemic of the 80s and 90s, to the changes that have been made in the modern day.
4. Safe Is Not Enough
This 2016 book illustrates how educators can help support the inclusiveness of queer students in school communities. It explores examples from classrooms, schools and districts and other emerging practices in supportive of these students, such as adults and families who can act as mentors. It’s the perfect book for adults working in school systems or hoping to get more educated on LGBTQ+ matters.
5. We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation
The perfect coffee table book to share with friends and pass on the education. This book is a collection of photographs taken by more than seventy photographers, helping us to see queer history through the eyes of those who’ve experienced it themselves. The book details LGBTQ+ history as far back as the 19th century, including the Stonewall Riots and activism from the modern-day. One of the most iconic LGBTQ+ books featuring a beautiful narrative that honours the unfinished history of the community’s fight for equality.
6. Rainbow Milk
The bestselling novel by Paul Mendez, a Black writer from the West Midlands – Rainbow Milk uncovers the struggles of a black, gay, Jehovah’s Witness in the 90s, and is based on Mendez’s own life. The novel was only released this year, however, has been met with critical acclaim thanks to its daring content and thrilling storyline. The important novel acts as the voice for the harsh realities of struggling with two identities – Blackness and queerness – and is essential reading for all those looking to understand both.
7. The Color Purple
Another haunting book turned into a hard-hitting American movie of the same name. It follows a young Black girl named Celie who faces a number of injustices early in life. From poverty and segreation, being raped by her father, having her two children taken from her and even being trapped in marriage with a man she hates. Discover how Celie embarks on a journey to find joy when she meets a woman called Shug. The controversial book is both beautiful and dark, and considered one of the most influential novels written.
8. Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution
A non-fiction essential read, Transgender History digs deep into the past, from the 20th century to the modern-day – and everything in between. The book covers major movements in time and includes emotional excerpts from transgender memoirs, as well as discussions about the treatment of transgender people throughout history.
9. The Last Time I Wore A Dress
A true story detailing the life of author Daphne Scholinski, who was committed to a mental institution in her teens for her “Gender Identity Disorder”. This powerful memoir details the issues many trans people still face in society, as well as her journey to becoming a woman. As the trans community continues to fight for basic rights, this book has never been more relevant.
10. Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality
A memoir by Sarah McBride, an American transgender rights activist, Tomorrow Will Be Different is considered a must-read when delving into educational resources about trans equality. The book covers Sarah’s struggles with coming out, before touching on her bright future as an activist for the cause – which has so far seen McBride make headlines while serving as Student Body President at American University when she came out to her college, and becoming the first trans person to speak at a national political convention. McBride’s story is both empowering and heartbreaking, and an informative read for anyone looking to learn more about trans rights.
11. Stella Brings The Family
This 2015 fiction novel by Miriam B Schiffer tells the tale of young girl with two daddies. When Stella’s class is having a Mother’s Day Celebration, she faces a big dilemma because she doesn’t have a mom to invite to the party. In the sweet story, she finds a unique solution to her problem exploring love, acceptance, childhood anxieties and the true meaning of family.
12. On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual
Another one of the best LGBTQ+ books. This piece originating as a response piece to a homophobic article in Harper’s Magazine. It is book adaptation of that essay – which was described in its time as “the most widely read and discussed essay of the decade,”. The book uncovers what it’s like to be gay in America, carrying the same sentiment that it did 50 years ago, with a message that relays the importance of coming out.
Updated by Megan Zara Walsh.