Not every queer story is a tragedy. And if the world is cruel to queer people, especially queer and trans people of color, then it is even more important to imagine worlds where it is not. It is essential to carve out spaces where being queer and happy are not seen as opposing. We need stories that represent our struggles, but we also need stories to nourish us, and to comfort us in times of grief and pain.
The kind of queer book I’ve been craving lately is what I call a cotton candy book. It’s sweet and light, with absolutely no tragedy. Let’s start with the basics:
If you’re looking for a light read where nothing bad happens to anyone, you can’t go too wrong with a picture book. Worm Loves Worm is about two worms who fall in love and get married. “But their friends want to know—who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux? The answer is: It doesn’t matter. Because Worm loves worm.”
Another classic of the LGBTQ picture book genre is And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Penguins!
For me, the epitome of a cotton candy queer book is Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. Paul goes to a high school where the homecoming queen is also the star quarterback. He has known he was gay since he was in kindergarten, and everyone around him accepts that. It’s not as easy for everyone in the novel, but it is a pretty utopian story.
Although there’s no shortage of tragic, depressing LGBTQ YA, there are luckily also some bright spots, including Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour and You Know Me Well by both David Levithan and Nina LaCour! The cotton candy gay YA duo!
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan and Ash by Malinda Lo aren’t pure fluff, but they are happy, soothing reads. (And unfortunately, I don’t know of many (any??) queer YA by authors of color that are pure fluffy happiness.)
Genre Books: Romance & Fantasy
Like YA, queer romance has its fair share of tragic, angsty novels, but fluffy queer romance does exist. Rebekah Weatherspoon writes fun romance novels, and Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz comes highly recommended.
There are also some fantasy novels with queer main characters that fit the bill, including the Mangoverse books, starting with The Second Mango, by Shira Glassman, and some of the short stories in Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho.
But the best place to get your cotton candy queer book fix is comics. Jem and the Holograms includes two girls from rival bands who fall in love! (Which is actually also the plot of another lesbian webcomic.) Plus, the gorgeous art, which includes an incredible diversity of women in body type and race, is done by the the talented trans artist Sophie Campbell!
And Lumberjanes is also a ton of fun, including a trans character and two girls in a relationship while they attend Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types.
I am grateful for these comforting queer books. I love being able to pick up a comic about Adventure Girlfriends or read a fluffy lesbian YA, but this list is still so short. And what’s worse, there are even fewer trans books on this list, or books by authors of color.
We need more happy queer books. We need them because our happiness is possible, and because sometimes we need to be reminded of that. Please let me know of any more fluffy, happy, tragedy-less queer books that you’ve read and loved. I think we could all use more of those right now.