Black LGBTQ books got a bump in June of 2020. With the George Floyd protests at their peak and Pride month still happening, lists of queer Black books to buy or preorder built up steam on social media. You Should See Me in a Crown, a Black YA F/F novel, was sold out everywhere. Unfortunately, this follows a pattern that Black and LGBTQ books often see: a peak during Black History Month or Pride month, but forgotten in between. Or, a hateful act will make the news, whether it’s police brutality or violent transphobia or a worrying new law, book lists will go around Twitter, authors will be in the strange position of profiting during a horrible moment for their community, and then public attention will shift to something else.
Obviously, these authors deserve support throughout the year. Black LGBTQ novels are still underrepresented — and besides, there are some incredible titles coming out this year even without considering how important the representation is. Not long ago, it would be easy to keep track of all the Black LGBTQ books coming out — or even traditionally published LGBTQ books in general — but luckily, we’re approaching a point where there are enough that you can accidentally overlook a title. Preordering is a great way to both support authors and give your future self a treat! By preordering now, you can help the author, make sure you won’t forget to buy the title, and get fun things in the mail throughout the year. It’s win-win-win!
Of course, if you are impatient, there are some Black LGBTQ 2021 titles that are already out, which I will include at the end of the post. You have to read something while you’re waiting for these books to publish, after all!
I’ve arranged these by publication date, noted the genre in the title spot, and have indicated the kind of LGBTQ representation included whenever possible. The descriptions are from the publishers. Some of these titles may not yet be set up for preorders: put those on your calendar to order as soon as it’s possible!
28 Black LGBTQ Books to Preorder in 2021
Black Boy Out of Time: A Memoir by Hari Ziyad (March 1, Memoir)
One of nineteen children in a blended family, Hari Ziyad was raised by a Hindu Hare Kṛṣṇa mother and a Muslim father. Through reframing their own coming-of-age story, Ziyad takes readers on a powerful journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and of navigating the equally complex path toward finding their true self in New York City. Exploring childhood, gender, race, and the trust that is built, broken, and repaired through generations, Ziyad investigates what it means to live beyond the limited narratives Black children are given and challenges the irreconcilable binaries that restrict them.
Heartwarming and heart-wrenching, radical and reflective, Hari Ziyad’s vital memoir is for the outcast, the unheard, the unborn, and the dead. It offers us a new way to think about survival and the necessary disruption of social norms. It looks back in tenderness as well as justified rage, forces us to address where we are now, and, born out of hope, illuminates the possibilities for the future.
How to Dispatch a Human by Stephanie Andrea Allen (March 2, Short Story Collection)
In this daring collection of speculative fiction, Stephanie Andrea Allen attends to the lives of Black women, mostly lesbian or queer, all keenly aware of the forces seeking to consume them.
A Black lesbian working the gig economy runs into a trio of motorized scooters and helps them escape from Earth. An enchanted sleep mask gives a woman the gift of slumber, but what will it cost her? A suburban housewife is framed for murder by her homophobic neighbor. And in the follow up to “Luna 6000,” a young woman investigates her mother’s untimely death, and learns the truth about her family.
How to Dispatch a Human: Stories and Suggestions is an unapologetic, often humorous, foray into the quotidian magic that envelops Black women’s lives. The eleven stories in this collection are filled with characters who will entice and delight readers as they traverse the worlds around them. With a mix of fabulism, near future, and speculative fictions, Allen reminds us in exquisitely nuanced prose that the fantastical can be found amongst the ordinary.
Lesbian and queer women characters
Pleasure and Spice (How Sweet It Is #6) by Fiona Zedde (March 2, Erotica)
Mayson and Renée are best friends. Two women who’ve known each other for a lifetime and are as different as they are close.
Mayson is a free-spirited and out lesbian, and very much desired in her Southern California queer community. Renée, straight and sheltered, is just getting out of a difficult divorce and searching for an escape from her pain.
While Mayson slips in and out of affairs, taking pleasure where it bites the sweetest, Renée steps into a dangerous game of anonymous sex-by-dark that transports her to places she’d never dreamed. But the worlds of these two friends are heading for a dramatic collision.
At the end of it all, will they or their friendship, survive?
**A version of this was previously published as Dangerous Pleasures**
Learned Reactions (Higher Education #2) by Jayce Ellis (March 9, Romance)
Carlton Monroe is finally getting his groove back. After a year playing dad to his nephew and sending him safely off to college, it’s back to his bachelor ways. But when his teenaged niece shows up on his doorstep looking for a permanent home, his plan comes to a screeching halt. Family is everything, and in the eyes of social services, a couple makes a better adoptive family than an overworked bachelor father. A fake relationship with his closest friend is the best way to keep his family together.
If things between him and Deion are complicated, well, it only needs to last until the end of the semester.
Living with Carlton is a heartbreak waiting to happen, and once the adoption goes through, Deion’s out. He’s waited two decades for Carlton to realize they’re meant for each other, and he’s done. It’s time to make a clean break. But it’s hard to think of moving away when keeping up the act includes some very real perks like kissing, cuddling and sharing a bed.
Even the best charades must come to an end, though. As the holidays and Deion’s departure date loom, the two men must decide whether playing house is enough for them—or if there’s any chance they could be a family for real.
Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans (March 9, Poetry)
From spoken word poet Jasmine Mans comes an unforgettable poetry collection about race, feminism, and queer identity.
With echoes of Gwendolyn Brooks and Sonia Sanchez, Mans writes to call herself—and us—home. Each poem explores what it means to be a daughter of Newark, and America—and the painful, joyous path to adulthood as a young, queer Black woman.
Black Girl, Call Home is a love letter to the wandering Black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing.
The Unbroken (Magic of the Lost #1) by C.L. Clark (March 23, Fantasy)
In an epic fantasy unlike any other, two women clash in a world full of rebellion, espionage, and military might on the far outreaches of a crumbling desert empire.
Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.
Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.
Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.
2 queer women main characters
Sweethand by N.G. Peltier (March 30, Romance)
After a public meltdown over her breakup from her cheating musician boyfriend, Cherisse swore off guys in the music industry, and dating in general for a while, preferring to focus on growing her pastry chef business.
When Cherisse’s younger sister reveals she’s getting married in a few months, Cherisse hopes that will distract her mother enough to quit harassing her about finding a guy, settling down and having kids. But her mother’s matchmaking keeps intensifying.
Cherisse tries to humour her mother, hoping if she feigns interest in the eligible bachelors she keeps tossing her way, she’ll be off the hook, but things don’t quite go as planned. Turns out for the first time in ages, she and Keiran King, the most annoying man ever, are on the island at the same time. Avoiding him is impossible, especially when Keiran’s close friend is the one marrying her sister, and he’s the best man to her maid of honour.
Keiran doesn’t know what to make of Cherisse now. They’ve always butted heads. To him she’s always been a stuck-up brat who seeks attention, even while he secretly harbored a crush on her. Now with Cherisse’s sister marrying one of his good friends he can’t escape her as the wedding activities keep throwing them together.
When things turn heated after a rainy night of bedroom fun, they both have to figure out if they can survive the countdown to wedding day, without this turning into a recipe for disaster.
Bisexual man (M/F relationship)
I’m a Wild Seed by Sharon Lee De La Cruz (April 6, Graphic Memoir)
A collection of lively autobiographical comics guiding the reader through an understanding of queerness and what it means to one woman of color.
In this delightfully compelling full-color graphic memoir, the author shares her process of undoing the effects of a patriarchal, colonial society on her self-image, her sexuality, and her concept of freedom. Reflecting on the ways in which oppression was the cause for her late bloom into queerness, we are invited to discover people and things in the author’s life that helped shape and inform her LGBTQ identity. And we come to an understanding of her holistic definition of queerness.
The Essential June Jordan Edited Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller (May 4, Poetry)
The Essential June Jordan honors the enduring legacy of a poet fiercely dedicated to building a better world. In this definitive volume, introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown, June Jordan’s generous body of poetry is distilled and curated to represent the very best of her works. Written over the span of several decades―from Some Changes in 1971 to Last Poems in 2001―Jordan’s poems are at once of their era and tragically current, with subject matter including racist police brutality, violence against women, and the opportunity for global solidarity amongst people who are marginalized or outside of the norm. In these poems of great immediacy and radical kindness, humor and embodied candor, readers will (re)discover a voice that has inspired generations of contemporary poets to write their truths. June Jordan is a powerful voice of the time-honored movement for justice, a poet for the ages. Introduced by Jericho Brown, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer prize in poetry.
Renunciations by Donika Kelly (May 4, Poetry)
An extraordinary collection of endurance and transformation by the award-winning author of Bestiary
The Renunciations is a book of resilience, survival, and the journey to radically shift one’s sense of self in the face of trauma. Moving between a childhood marked by love and abuse and the breaking marriage of that adult child, Donika Kelly charts memory and the body as landscapes to be traversed and tended. These poems construct life rafts and sanctuaries even in their most devastating confrontations with what a person can bear, with how families harm themselves. With the companionship of “the oracle”―an observer of memory who knows how each close call with oblivion ends―the act of remembrance becomes curative, and personal mythologies give way to a future defined less by wounds than by possibility.
In this gorgeous and heartrending second collection, we find the home one builds inside oneself after reckoning with a legacy of trauma―a home whose construction starts “with a razing.”
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee (May 4, YA Contemporary)
Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.
When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.
In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.
Trans man, M/M relationship
Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon (May 4, Science Fiction)
Vern―seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised―flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.
But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.
To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future―outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.
Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.
Queer, non-binary author (not sure of specific representation, likely F/F)
A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (May 11, Fantasy)
Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.
So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world forty years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.
Alongside her Ministry colleagues and a familiar person from her past, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city―or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems…
Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (May 11, Middle Grade Contemporary)
Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be normal again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team, even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .
But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves and each other.
Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir by Brian Broome (May 28, Memoir)
Punch Me Up to the Gods introduces a powerful new talent in Brian Broome, whose early years growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys propel forward this gorgeous, aching, and unforgettable debut. Brian’s recounting of his experiences—in all their cringe-worthy, hilarious, and heartbreaking glory—reveal a perpetual outsider awkwardly squirming to find his way in. Indiscriminate sex and escalating drug use help to soothe his hurt, young psyche, usually to uproarious and devastating effect. A no-nonsense mother and broken father play crucial roles in our misfit’s origin story. But it is Brian’s voice in the retelling that shows the true depth of vulnerability for young Black boys that is often quietly near to bursting at the seams.
Cleverly framed around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool,” the iconic and loving ode to Black boyhood, Punch Me Up to the Gods is at once playful, poignant, and wholly original. Broome’s writing brims with swagger and sensitivity, bringing an exquisite and fresh voice to ongoing cultural conversations about Blackness in America.
Off the Record by Camryn Garrett (May 18, YA Contemporary)
Ever since seventeen-year-old Josie Wright can remember, writing has been her identity, the thing that grounds her when everything else is a garbage fire. So when she wins a contest to write a celebrity profile for Deep Focus magazine, she’s equal parts excited and scared, but also ready. She’s got this.
Soon Josie is jetting off on a multi-city tour, rubbing elbows with sparkly celebrities, frenetic handlers, stone-faced producers, and eccentric stylists. She even finds herself catching feelings for the subject of her profile, dazzling young newcomer Marius Canet. Josie’s world is expanding so rapidly, she doesn’t know whether she’s flying or falling. But when a young actress lets her in on a terrible secret, the answer is clear: she’s in over her head.
One woman’s account leads to another and another. Josie wants to expose the man responsible, but she’s reluctant to speak up, unsure if this is her story to tell. What if she lets down the women who have entrusted her with their stories? What if this ends her writing career before it even begins? There are so many reasons not to go ahead, but if Josie doesn’t step up, who will?
From the author of Full Disclosure, this is a moving testament to the #MeToo movement, and all the ways women stand up for each other.
How to Find a Princess (Runaway Royals #2) by Alyssa Cole (May 25, Romance)
New York Times and USA Today bestseller Alyssa Cole’s second Runaway Royals novel is a queer Anastasia retelling, featuring a long-lost princess who finds love with the female investigator tasked with tracking her down.
Makeda Hicks has lost her job and her girlfriend in one fell swoop. The last thing she’s in the mood for is to rehash the story of her grandmother’s infamous summer fling with a runaway prince from Ibarania, or the investigator from the World Federation of Monarchies tasked with searching for Ibarania’s missing heir.
Yet when Beznaria Chetchevaliere crashes into her life, the sleek and sexy investigator exudes exactly the kind of chaos that organized and efficient Makeda finds irresistible, even if Bez is determined to drag her into a world of royal duty Makeda wants nothing to do with.
When a threat to her grandmother’s livelihood pushes Makeda to agree to return to Ibarania, Bez takes her on a transatlantic adventure with a crew of lovable weirdos, a fake marriage, and one-bed hijinks on the high seas. When they finally make it to Ibarania, they realize there’s more at stake than just cash and crown, and Makeda must learn what it means to fight for what she desires and not what she feels bound to by duty.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (June 1, YA Thriller)
All you need to know is . . . I’m here to divide and conquer. Like all great tyrants do. ―Aces
When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.
Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.
As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?
Gay man and lesbian main characters
Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia (June 1, Mystery)
Harlem, 1926. Young black women like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead.
Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She’s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Harlem’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends, especially her girlfriend, Rosa Maria Moreno, might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that.
When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she’s been trying to ignore—two other local black girls have been murdered in the past few weeks. After an altercation with a police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or wind up in a jail cell. Louise has no choice but to investigate and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind hell-bent on taking more lives, maybe even her own….
Sapphic main character
The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons (June 1, YA Contemporary)
Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother, and a David Beckham in training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of isolation and bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.
At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boys’ soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans—he’s passing.
But when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even though it would mean coming out to everyone—including the guy he’s falling for.
Trans man, M/M relationship
Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor (June 22, Short Story Collection)
In the series of linked stories at the heart of Filthy Animals, set among young creatives in the American Midwest, a young man treads delicate emotional waters as he navigates a series of sexually fraught encounters with two dancers in an open relationship, forcing him to weigh his vulnerabilities against his loneliness. In other stories, a young woman battles with the cancers draining her body and her family; menacing undercurrents among a group of teenagers explode in violence on a winter night; a little girl tears through a house like a tornado, driving her babysitter to the brink; and couples feel out the jagged edges of connection, comfort, and cruelty.
One of the breakout literary stars of 2020, Brandon Taylor has been hailed by Roxane Gay as “a writer who wields his craft in absolutely unforgettable ways.” With Filthy Animals he renews and expands on the promise made in Real Life, training his precise and unsentimental gaze on the tensions among friends and family, lovers and others. Psychologically taut and quietly devastating, Filthy Animals is a tender portrait of the fierce longing for intimacy, the lingering presence of pain, and the desire for love in a world that seems, more often than not, to withhold it.
Darling by K. Ancrum (June 23, YA Fantasy)
A teen girl finds herself lost on a dangerous adventure in this YA thriller by the acclaimed author of The Wicker King and The Weight of the Stars―reimagining Peter Pan for today’s world.
On Wendy Darling’s first night in Chicago, a boy called Peter appears at her window. He’s dizzying, captivating, beautiful―so she agrees to join him for a night on the town.
Wendy thinks they’re heading to a party, but instead they’re soon running in the city’s underground. She makes friends―a punk girl named Tinkerbelle and the lost boys Peter watches over. And she makes enemies―the terrifying Detective Hook, and maybe Peter himself, as his sinister secrets start coming to light. Can Wendy find the courage to survive this night―and make sure everyone else does, too?
Multiple queer side characters, including asexual, lesbian, and bisexual characters
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron (June 29, YA Fantasy)
Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.
When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.
When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.
From the bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead comes another inspiring and deeply compelling story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her.
Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson (July 6, YA)
A stunning novel about being brave enough to be true to yourself, and learning to find joy even when times are unimaginably dark.
Three days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival.
Toni is grieving the loss of her roadie father and needing to figure out where her life will go from here — and she’s desperate to get back to loving music. Olivia is a hopeless romantic whose heart has just taken a beating (again) and is beginning to feel like she’ll always be a square peg in a round hole — but the Farmland Music and Arts Festival is a chance to find a place where she fits.
The two collide and it feels like something like kismet when a bond begins to form. But when something goes wrong and the festival is sent into a panic, Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other (and music) more than they ever imagined.
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (July 13, YA Horror)
Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA social thriller where survival is not a guarantee.
Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student–the handsome Allister–and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.
Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game–one Jake is not sure he can win.
Gay man main character
Busy Ain’t the Half of It by Frederick Smith and Chaz Lamar (August 1, Romance)
Elijah Golden and Justin Monroe are uncle and nephew with eclectic careers, friends, and family in LA, trying to center Black Joy in their lives.Then their worlds turn in ways nobody expects.
Elijah, a dedicated thespian, auditions by day, does theater by night, and works two jobs on weekends. With enough life for three people, he keeps his recently divorced partner Zaire coasting on bliss…until secrets and real-life dramas test their love.
Justin, Elijah’s uncle, is a single father with teenage twins, and a tv journalist who’s been replaced at the anchor desk when new management arrives. No longer in the public eye, living true to his sexuality is something Justin can finally do. Dating and romance—Justin’s ready for fun. Conflicts with fatherhood and career—he’ll have none.
Elijah and Justin seek happily-ever-afters, but are they too busy to notice happy when it’s there?
No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull (September 7, Science Fiction)
One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.
As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.
At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?
The world will soon find out.
Trans and asexual main characters
Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles (September 21, YA Contemporary)
There’s always been a hole in Gio’s life. Not because he’s into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio’s life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he’s started to get his life together, she’s back.
It’s hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio’s started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio’s not sure . . . especially because he’s not sure what he wants from anyone right now.
There are no easy answers to love — whether it’s family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn’t Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity — hoping at the other end he’ll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.
Note: This is not a complete list! We will likely be hearing more about the Aug-Dec releases later in the year.
2021 Black LGBTQ Books Out Now
If you’re too impatient to wait for upcoming releases, here are ten 2021 LGBTQ books by Black authors that are already out! They are ordered by genre.
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers (Fiction)
When becoming an adult means learning to love yourself first.
With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her parent’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.
In New York, she’s able to ignore all the constant questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.
100 Boyfriends by Brontez Purnell (Short Story Collection)
An irrerverent, sensitive, and inimitable look at gay dysfunction through the eyes of a cult hero
Transgressive, foulmouthed, and brutally funny, Brontez Purnell’s 100 Boyfriends is a revelatory spiral into the imperfect lives of queer men desperately fighting the urge to self-sabotage. As they tiptoe through minefields of romantic, substance-fueled misadventure―from dirty warehouses and gentrified bars in Oakland to desolate farm towns in Alabama―Purnell’s characters strive for belonging in a world that dismisses them for being Black, broke, and queer. In spite of it―or perhaps because of it―they shine.
Armed with a deadpan wit, Purnell finds humor in even the darkest of nadirs with the peerless zeal, insight, and horniness of a gay punk messiah. Together, the slice-of-life tales that writhe within 100 Boyfriends are an inimitable tour of an unexposed queer underbelly. Holding them together is the vision of an iconoclastic storyteller, as fearless as he is human.
Queer men main characters
The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr (Historical Fiction)
A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.
Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.
With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr., fiercely summons the voices of slaver and enslaved alike, from Isaiah and Samuel to the calculating slave master to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries—of ancestors and future generations to come—culminates in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets masterfully reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.
Love’s Divine by Ava Freeman (Romance)
Go on vacation? Check. Sip cocktails and relax on the beach? Check. Fall in love? Definitely not on the list.
On a whim, Genesis Malone decides to book a solo trip to the island of Barbados. A sunny beach vacation sounds like the perfect way to renew her spirit after a heartbreaking divorce. The trip takes an unexpected turn when she meets a woman who could be just what she needs to move on. That is if her heart, and the universe, will let her.
Zuri Baker seems to have it all but what she really wants is someone to share her life with. When she meets Genesis, she is intrigued by her quiet nature and longs to get to know her better. Too bad her on-again off-again girlfriend isn’t willing to let her go quite so easily.
When they return to their regular lives and find themselves in the midst of exes, not quite exes, and work drama, will they be able to hold onto what matters most; each other?
Masquerade by Anne Shade (Historical Romance)
Harlem, New York, 1925 is a mecca of cultural and creative freedom, where masquerade drag balls are all the rage and the music, dancing, and loose prohibition laws unite people from all walks of life.
Dinah Hampton came to Harlem for better opportunities for her family but ends up working as a nightclub chorus girl to help make ends meet. Among the nightlife and danger, she finds love in the most unexpected way.
When a scandal rocks Celine Montre’s family and sends them fleeing from New Orleans to Harlem, the gorgeous Dinah Hampton helps her to discover that there’s more to life, and love, than she ever thought possible.
When a notorious gangster sets her sights on seducing Celine, Dinah and Celine are forced to risk their hearts, and lives, for love.
Symbiosis (Escaping Exodus #2) by Nicky Drayden (Science Fiction)
Nearly a thousand years removed from Earth, the remnants of humanity cling to existence inside giant, space faring creatures known as the Zenzee. Abused and exploited by humans for generations, these majestic animals nearly went extinct, but under the command of its newly minted ruler, Doka Kaleigh, life in the Parados I has flourished. Thanks to careful oversight and sacrifice by all of its crew, they are now on the brink of utopia, and yet Doka’s rivals feel threatened by that success. The Senate allowed Doka to lead their people believing he’d fail spectacularly—a disaster that would cement the legitimacy of their long-standing matriarchy. Despite vocal opposition and blatant attacks on his authority, Doka has continued to handle his position with grace and intelligence; he knows a single misstep means disaster. When a cataclysmic event on another Zenzee world forces Doka and his people to accept thousands of refugees, a culture clash erupts, revealing secrets from the past that could endanger their future. For Doka, the stakes are bigger and more personal than ever before—and could cost him his reign and his heart.
He has fallen for the one woman he is forbidden to love: his wife, Seske.
Doka and Seske must work closely together to sway the other Zenzee worlds to stop their cycles of destruction. But when they stumble upon a discovery that can transform their world, they know they must prepare to fight a battle where there can be no winners, only survivors.
Sapphic main character
Soulstar (The Kingston Cycle #3) by C.L. Polk (Fantasy)
With Soulstar, C. L. Polk concludes her riveting Kingston Cycle, a whirlwind of magic, politics, romance, and intrigue that began with the World Fantasy Award-winning Witchmark. Assassinations, deadly storms, and long-lost love haunt the pages of this thrilling final volume.
For years, Robin Thorpe has kept her head down, staying among her people in the Riverside neighborhood and hiding the magic that would have her imprisoned by the state. But when Grace Hensley comes knocking on Clan Thorpe’s door, Robin’s days of hiding are at an end. As freed witches flood the streets of Kingston, scrambling to reintegrate with a kingdom that destroyed their lives, Robin begins to plot a course that will ensure a freer, juster Aeland. At the same time, she has to face her long-bottled feelings for the childhood love that vanished into an asylum twenty years ago.
Can Robin find happiness among the rising tides of revolution? Can Kingston survive the blizzards that threaten, the desperate monarchy, and the birth throes of democracy? Find out as the Kingston Cycle comes to an end.
Nonbinary love interest
One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite (YA Contemporary)
When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.
One of the good ones.
Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again.
Lesbian main character
Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson (YA Time Travel)
Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.
He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.
And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect―the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.
Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.
Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs―and more importantly who he wants to be―before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.
Gay man main character
Mouths of Rain : An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought Edited by Briona Simone Jones (Nonfiction)
African American lesbian writers and theorists have made extraordinary contributions to feminist theory, activism, and writing. Mouths of Rain, the companion anthology to Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s classic Words of Fire, traces the long history of intellectual thought produced by Black Lesbian writers, spanning the nineteenth century through the twenty-first century.
Using “Black Lesbian” as a capacious signifier, Mouths of Rain includes writing by Black women who have shared intimate and loving relationships with other women, as well as Black women who see bonding as mutual, Black women who have self-identified as lesbian, Black women who have written about Black Lesbians, and Black women who theorize about and see the word lesbian as a political descriptor that disrupts and critiques capitalism, heterosexism, and heteropatriarchy. Taking its title from a poem by Audre Lorde, Mouths of Rain addresses pervasive issues such as misogynoir and anti-blackness while also attending to love, romance, “coming out,” and the erotic.
Looking for More Black LGBTQ Books?
Of course, there are plenty of Black LGBTQ books from years past that are also worth reading! Here are some helpful resources to find more:
- Black Lesbian Literary Collective
- Sistahs on the Shelf
- YA Pride’s Queer YA Books by Black Authors Spreadsheet
- LGBTQ Reads’s Black History Month post
I also discovered Jonathan’s To Be Black and Loved BookTube channel in the course of research for this post, and I sourced some titles from the video “Black & Queer Book Releases 2021 | YA & Adult Fiction.”
Here on Book Riot, you might also want to check out:
- 20 Must-Read Black Authors of LGBTQ Books
- 6 of the Best Audiobooks by Queer Black Authors
- The videos Queer 2020 Releases by Black Authors and Black LGBTQ YA Titles Published in 2020
This updated list was edited to reflect a correction on an author’s identity.