7 Books To Educate Yourself With This LGBTQ+ History Month

Explore the rich history of the LGBTQ+ community with these irresistible reads from past and present

By Emily McMullin

Want to learn more about queer thought and history? Or maybe you’re looking to lose yourself in a riveting novel that centres queer characters. Whatever your bookish heart desires, we’re confident you’ll find it in this list of brilliant books spanning the experiences and evolution of the LGBTQ+ community. 

1. All The Young Men - Ruth Coker Burks

If Russell T Davies’ recent Channel 4 hit It’s a Sin struck a chord with you, then this book should be high on your to-read list. An incredibly powerful and moving memoir set against a backdrop of ignorance and prejudice in 1980s America, All The Young Men tells the story of a young woman who went to extraordinary lengths to provide care and dignity to victims of the HIV-AIDS crisis.

2. Detransition, Baby - Torrey Peters

Following his de-transition, Ames (formerly Amy) began a relationship with Katrina, who is now pregnant with his child. Ames’ ex, trans woman Reese, has always wanted a baby. The trio decide to form an unlikely family unit — but can they make it work? One of the first books written by a trans woman to be issued by a big-five publishing house, novel Detransition, Baby is a bold page-turner that tackles some of the biggest trans taboos with humour and unflinching candour.

3. The Pink Line - Mark Gevisser

In this ambitious piece of non-fiction, Mark Gevisser uses first-person testimonies to present an engrossing study of attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community in different parts of the world. Chosen as one of the Guardian and Financial Times’ Books of 2020, The Pink Line is the result of six years’ worth of research and interviews with LGBTQ+ people from across the globe, including a transgender woman in Russia and a gay Ugandan refugee.

4. Your Silence Will Not Protect You - Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde described herself as ‘Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet’, and throughout her lifetime produced work that was pioneering in its discussions of race, gender, sexuality and equality. Prefaced by Reni Eddo-Lodge, the acclaimed author of Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Your Silence Will Not Protect You is an essential collection of Lorde’s most notable poems, essays and speeches.

5. Giovanni’s Room - James Baldwin

When it was first published in 1956, James Baldwin’s second novel was considered ‘audacious’ and extremely controversial in its depiction of gay relationships. It has since become something of a literary classic, delving deep into the shame that is felt by many in the queer community and exploring the conflicts between desire, sexual identity and conventional morality. Set in 1950s Paris, Giovanni’s Room tells the tale of a tormented affair between David, the bisexual American narrator, and Giovanni, an Italian bartender.

6. A Dutiful Boy - Mohsin Zaidi

Named in the Guardian and GQ Magazine’s Best Books of 2020, A Dutiful Boy is a real-life account of growing up queer in a strict Muslim household. In his quest for self-acceptance, author Mohsin Zaidi has to navigate both the prejudices of his cultural community — which result in a visit from a witch doctor to ‘cure’ him of his sexuality — and the racism that rears its ugly head in the gay community he wishes to become a part of.

7. Queer: A Graphic History - Meg-John Barker & Jules Scheele

A groundbreaking work of graphic non-fiction, this book offers an engaging and accessible introduction to the world of queer thinking and LGBTQ+ action. In exploring how our understandings of sex, gender and sexuality came to be, and the ways in which they have been disputed and challenged, Queer: A Graphic History covers everything from Alfred Kinsey’s view of sexuality as a spectrum to the musical Wicked.