Fiction

Don’t Rain on My Parade: Books Set at Pride Celebrations

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Susie Dumond

Senior Contributor

Susie (she/her) is a queer writer originally from Little Rock, now living in Washington, DC. She is the author of QUEERLY BELOVED and the forthcoming LOOKING FOR A SIGN from Dial Press/Random House. You can find her on Instagram @susiedoom.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Pride Month! Move over December, because everyone knows June is when the real fun happens. The days are sunny, rainbow flags abound, and the gays are on parade. Some of my most treasured personal memories are set against a backdrop of Pride parades and festivals, so it’s no wonder that I can’t resist a book set around Pride either. Check out these festive fiction books set at Pride celebrations for children and adults.

Some of these books are structured entirely around Pride month festivities, while others only drop into Pride parades of queer protests for brief moments. But these books, much like today’s queer communities, are indelibly changed by opportunities to gather in public spaces to celebrate and advocate for what matters to them. Pride celebrations have long been the site of conflict and disagreement. My earliest Pride memories from the early 2000s come hand-in-hand with memories of homophobic and transphobic protestors shouting on the sidelines. In the year 2024, Pridegoers again find themselves trying to drown out religious and right-wing hate with celebrations of love, joy, and the beautiful diversity of our community.

If you’re planning to attend a Pride festival this year, I hope you feel wrapped in love and support. And whether or not you’re marching in the parade, I hope these books set at Pride give you something new to discover.

Adult Books Set at Pride Celebrations

the z word book cover

The Z Word by Lindsay King-Miller

Zombies! At Pride! To be honest, that’s pretty much all I needed to hear to know I was going to love The Z Word. It’s Pride weekend in San Lazaro, Arizona, and chaotic bisexual Wendy is not in the holiday spirit. She’s exhausted by the corporate takeover of Pride, she just went through a breakup, and even worse, her friend group celebration is being hosted by the lesbian couple that recently invited Wendy’s ex-girlfriend in as a third. But she’s got much bigger problems when folks start acting violent and nonsensical. And when they slake their thirst for human flesh, it starts spreading like rainbow wildfire. With a wonderfully weird found family of zombie fighters, The Z Word is a June must-read.

cover of The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel created a time capsule of lesbian culture with her decades-long cartoon strip Dykes to Watch Out For. But when reading the full collection, the main thing that struck me was how timeless the experience of finding yourself within a queer community really is. Follow Bechdel’s cast of hilarious and relatable characters through all kinds of quintessentially queer experiences, from romantic drama to building families to experiencing loss and healing. I especially love any strips centered around Pride parades, Dyke Marches, and historic queer protests.

Book cover of My Government Means to Kill Me

My Government Means to Kill Me by Rasheed Newson

I love literary fiction that also gives me a glimpse into different pockets of queer history and culture. That’s what you’ll find in television writer and producer Rasheed Newson’s debut novel, My Government Means to Kill Me. It follows Trey, a Black teenager who runs away to 1980s New York City, where he finds a new kind of family and comes of age amidst the AIDS crisis. Although it may not involve extended scenes at Pride events, it does include thought-provoking discussions of the origins of Pride, queer political protests, AIDS marches, and some of the key figures who shaped the queer rights movement into what we know today.

Just as You Are Book Cover

Just As You Are by Camille Kellogg

You better believe a lesbian Pride and Prejudice retelling is going to include a good amount of Pride! Liz and the other staff writers at queer magazine The Nether Fields are distraught to learn their media company is on the verge of bankruptcy. So when they’re bought up by a couple of hot rich lesbians, it’s a huge relief — until Liz immediately clashes with one of them, only to then realize she’s frustratingly attracted to her. One of my favorite twists on the classic tale is transforming a high-society Austenian ball into a Pride pool party, full of social drama and unlikely romantic connections.

Wrong Number Right Woman cover

Wrong Number, Right Woman by Jae

Denny has never been brave enough to flirt or hit on beautiful women. So she’s shocked to receive a text from an unknown number asking her for dating advice. Turns out Eliza, a charming and unlucky-in-love straight woman who mixed up her friend’s new cell number, can still find some companionship through her accidental connection with Denny. But the more they chat, the more Denny and Eliza realize there’s something special between them. Wrong Number, Right Woman is a sweet slow-burn romance with a key scene of self-discovery and community building at Portland’s annual Pride parade.

Children’s Books Set at Pride Celebrations

It's Pride, Baby! cover

It’s Pride, Baby! by Allen R. Wells, illustrated by Dia Valle

Join one family as they get ready to participate in a D.C. Black Pride March in It’s Pride, Baby! With vibrant illustrations and beautiful writing, this book teaches kids to take pride in everything that makes them unique. It’s a joyful book with an excellent message, and even better, it comes with special back material to teach you and your kids about the history of Black Pride.

cover of Grandad's Pride

Grandad’s Pride by Harry Woodgate

If you live in a community that doesn’t have a formal Pride celebration, sometimes you’ve got to be the one to kickstart it. That’s what happens in this lovely, affirming picture book. Milly finds a rainbow flag in her grandad’s attic, and it inspires both of them to plan a Pride parade for their small British town. They’re joined by an array of people of different genders, races, and body types, all gathered to celebrate love and individuality.

Twas the Night Before Pride cover

‘Twas the Night Before Pride by Joanna McClintick, illustrated by Juana Medina

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, but make it gay! This delightful picture book features a family preparing for the next day’s Pride celebration. An older sibling explains to their younger sibling what Pride means to them and the history of Pride parades. While this book has a lovely rhyming story and vibrant illustrations, it also features real history like the Stonewall and AIDS marches, presented in an age-appropriate way.

The Rainbow Parade cover

The Rainbow Parade by Shane Jordan and Rick Hendrix, illustrated by Jieting Chen

Amidst a stormy Pride parade, one non-binary kid who proudly celebrates their right to be different encounters another kid who could use a lesson in self-love. The Rainbow Parade is a colorful and cheerful book with lovely illustrations that opens the door to big conversations like, what makes me proud of myself? How can I love and celebrate what makes me special? What does it mean to live more authentically? It’s a great message for all kids (and probably some closed-minded adults too).

cover of Winnie Nash is Not Your Sunshine

Winnie Nash is Not Your Sunshine by Nicole Melleby

Winnie Nash has always known she’s gay, and she’s been dreaming of using her summer vacation to attend the big, exciting Pride parade in New York City. But instead, Winnie’s parents have sent her to stay with her grandmother in New Jersey — and they push Winnie to hide her queerness from her grandma to avoid upsetting her. As Winnie tries to keep her crush on a new friend a secret and spends her days playing card games with senior citizens, she tries to find a way to make her dream of seeing the parade a reality. Winnie Nash is Not Your Sunshine is a layered, emotional book about finding joy and pride in yourself under difficult circumstances.