June is Pride Month, and while this year’s celebrations look a bit different from previous years, that doesn’t mean we can’t still find ways to honor the history of LGBTQ+ rights, and the diverse community of LGBTQ+ people! Recently, I’ve read three really incredible, hard-hitting memoirs written and narrated by queer women, and I can’t recommend them enough. I highly recommend them on audio for their performances, but whether you read them in print or enjoy them on audio, they’re a great way to celebrate Pride in a socially distant, responsible way and are guaranteed to be an incredible experience.
In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado
This is the incredible story of how Machado arrived at grad school and very quickly fell for a woman who was charming and charismatic and seemed to like Machado back—even though she already had a girlfriend. Quickly, she and Machado began dating, but before long Machado began to notice that her girlfriend was emotionally abusive. Confused and distressed, she stayed in the relationship hoping that things would improve, but the emotional and verbal abuse escalated into intimidation, and she knew she finally had to get out. This memoir of a tumultuous two years is an exploration of mercurial relationships, but it’s also a vital examination into why domestic abuse in queer relationships is so taboo in our culture. This book explores the (lack of) documentation of queer domestic abuse and analyzes why that’s bad for everyone, especially the queer community, and seeks to change the narrative. The narrative structure is also experimental, with each short chapter embodying a literary trope or device. Machado’s dreamy narration will make this a book you’ll want to marathon listen.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
This memoir was built around Ariel Levy’s award-winning essay in The New Yorker, “Thanksgiving in Mongolia,” in which she recounts how she went to Mongolia on assignment while five months pregnant and experienced a miscarriage in her hotel room. In this memoir, Levy mines her life’s experiences and childhood memories to build a story of how she grew up dissatisfied with her life and became an adventurous young adult who took to reporting stories, first at home, and then in far-flung places. She met her partner before marriage equality was the law of the land, and they built a life together and planned to have children. In the aftermath of her miscarriage, Levy’s marriage falls apart as her partner turns to alcohol and Levy is unfaithful. This memoir is a hard-hitting exploration of what it means to build a life when there are no guidelines, and how to pick up the pieces when it all falls apart. Levy’s narration is forceful, and the memoir is on the short side, making it easily a single-sitting read.
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden
T Kira Madden grew up in Boca Raton, FL as the biracial daughter of a Chinese-Hawaiian mother and a white father. Her childhood was unconventional, as her mother was her father’s mistress, although her father eventually left his wife to live with them, and he loomed large in her life. Madden’s uncle is the famous Steve Madden, but in this book she focuses less on the flashier sides of fame and wealth, and more on the darker aspects of growing up privileged. Despite all of her advantages, her home life wasn’t always the best, and when her father dies she’s left adrift, trying to make sense of her life now that he’s gone. Her salvation comes in the friends she makes—other fatherless girls—who help her navigate her new terrain. Like Machado’s book, this memoir is literary, with each chapter feeling like a contained essay, but they all build upon each other beautifully. Madden’s narration is compelling and calm, but forceful at just the right moments. Unfortunately, this is an Audible exclusive so you aren’t likely to find it on your library app or on Libro.fm, but it’s worth listening to if you can swing Audible.
Want more amazing LGBTQ+ memoirs? Check out 15 LGBTQ Audiobook Memoirs Narrated by LGBTQ Authors, 5 Queer Audiobook Memoirs Read By Their Authors, and Seeing My Queer, Ill Self in Jenn Shapland’s New Memoir!
What are some of your favorite memoirs by queer women or queer writers in general? Share with us on social media, and have a safe and healthy Pride!