Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

6 Stunning LGBTQ+ Books by Debut Authors to Read in 2021

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Michelle Regalado

Staff Writer

Michelle Regalado is a New York-based digital writer and editor. When she's not hunting down her next must-read book (recommendations are welcome!) or writing about all things pop culture, you can probably find her drinking iced coffee and hanging out with her dog, Lola. Follow her on Twitter: @mar8289

This year’s slate of new releases offers a wide selection of LGBTQ+ books, including some truly stunning works from first-time authors. Whether you prefer fiction, nonfiction, or switch back and forth between the two, there’s plenty to choose from among these compelling debuts. From a handful of inspiring memoirs to a poignant and beautifully illustrated graphic novel to an unconventional fairytale retelling, these riveting works not only offer a marvelously vast range of queer stories, but also introduce some noteworthy new literary talents that you’ll want to get to know. Get your TBR list ready, and check out six debut LGBTQ+ books to read in 2021.

sarahland book cover

Sarahland by Sam Cohen (March 9)

This provocative and thoughtful essay collection tackles issues of identity and sexuality as told through the various lives and stories of different Sarahs, from a Buffy aficionado to a Bible-era trans woman. Packed with wit, insight, and humor, Sarahland is a perceptive debut that will have you ruminating long after you finish the final page. 

Malice by Heather Walter (April 13)

A princess isn’t supposed to fall in love with a wicked sorceress, but that’s exactly what happens in this bewitching and deliciously dark retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Heather Walter’s debut is just as gloriously compelling as it sounds, turning the iconic story on its head and giving the villain a chance to shine. Whether you love fairytales or not, readers will find it nearly impossible to resist this captivating and refreshing exploration of the murky area in between good and evil. 

Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing by Lauren Hough (April 13)

In this searingly powerful collection of personal essays, Lauren Hough explores some of the most defining chapters of her life, from surviving the cult she grew up in to joining the Air Force to working as bouncer at a gay club. Even as she lays bare some of her most intimate memories, Hough’s sharp humor and unflinching honesty shines through, further highlighting her affecting story of resilience. 

Stone Fruit by Lee Lai (May 11) 

While navigating a rough patch as a couple, Ray and Bron remain devoted to their roles as fun aunties to Bron’s niece. Their carefree and high-spirited bi-weekly playdates with the young girl provide a much-needed respite from the real world. When reality sinks back in and their relationship falls apart, both women attempt to repair some of the broken ties in their own families. Beautifully illustrated, this sophisticated graphic novel is a tender and introspective story about family dynamics and the history you carry into your chosen relationships. 

Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir by Brian Broome (May 28)

In his stunning coming-of-age memoir, Brian Broome recounts his experience growing up as a Black gay boy in small town Ohio during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.  Framed into chapters titled after Gwendolyn Brooks’s classic poem “We Real Cool,” Broome’s timely and heart wrenching story is a moving portrait of racial and sexual identity in America, defying the expectations of Black masculinity, and the painful but courageous journey it takes to find yourself. 

¡Hola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer (June 8)

John Paul Brammer expands on his popular advice column, ¡Hola Papi!, with this engaging debut memoir, which chronicles his journey as a queer, biracial kid raised in rural Oklahoma. With each chapter cleverly structured around questions from readers, Brammer tackles everything from racism and cultural identity to family and relationships, bringing his signature warmth and heartfelt humor to every page along the way.