This list of LGBTQ nonfiction books for Pride month was originally published in our nonfiction newsletter, True Story. Sign up for it here to get nonfiction news, reviews, deals, and more!
I feel like a queer elder, which is so weird because I literally only came out ten years ago, but things have changed SO much since then. I feel like I was just hunched over my laptop at 1 a.m. watching the livestream of the marriage equality debates in the Hawaii legislature (which is the sort of hedonistic lifestyle I indulged in in my 20s), and now here I am married to an awesome lady and no one in my life thought it was a whole big thing, because it’s already pretty dang normalized. In urban areas. And among the people in my life, because, let’s be fair, why keep the other people with you.
But for real, not only did we go from truly-mostly-not-great film, TV, and books, now we have award-winning, AMAZING things! Kind of frequently! A lot of it’s white and queer people are still dying onscreen more than anyone should be comfortable with, but it’s so much further than we were ten years ago.
SO, that being said, happy Pride to everyone under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Let’s look at some books:
Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele
This graphic history looks at how we “came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged.” It’s kind of like, how do we look at queer theory and some Big Ideas, but do it in an illustrated and more comprehensible way.
I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters by Bayard Rustin
Rustin was the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington (yes, the “I Have a Dream” event) and had an enormous influence on Martin Luther King Jr., but he is not as well known as others in the Civil Rights movement. Why? Because he was openly gay. While it is near-impossible to truly know a person, I would argue that reading their letters is a better way than reading a biography. This collection gathers over 150 of Rustin’s letters, spanning almost four decades of his life (he died in 1987). What a way to learn more about him.
My Sister: How One Sibling’s Transition Changed Us Both by Selenis Leyva and Marizol Leyva
I really love the family aspect of this. Selenis Leyva, known from Orange Is the New Black, co-writes this book with her sister about growing up in the Bronx in a Latinx household, about Marizol transitioning, their relationship as sisters, how Caitlin Jenner does not stand for all trans experiences, their relationship with Laverne Cox, and more.
The Stonewall Reader, Edited by the New York Public Library and Jason Baumann
June 28, 2019, was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, and if you love primary sources, boy is this great for you. Edited by the New York Public Library, it compiles “first accounts, diaries, periodic literature, and articles from LGBTQ magazines and newspapers that documented both the years leading up to and the years following the riot.” A lot of accounts about this seminal event in American queer history.