In case you missed the rainbows everywhere, it’s Pride month! And while all the sparkly colors are a playful way to celebrate, Pride is an important time to recognize and rejoice in queer love and identities. So, whether you’re a part of the community or an ally, we’ve rounded up the best LGBTQ stories for your summer reading list.
The Guncle by Steven Rowley
Who doesn’t love an endearing, goofy gay uncle? Former sitcom actor Gay Uncle Patrick (lovingly known as GUP) spoils his niece and nephew when they come to visit him at his home in Palm Springs. But when Patrick suddenly finds himself taking on the primary caregiver role amidst family tragedy, he finds himself mourning along with the children – for his sudden change in lifestyle, his old career, and that his quirky gay uncle jokes aren’t enough for the kiddos anymore. Readers will be laughing, crying, and something in between as they watch Patrick move on from his past and become more than a GUP to his niece and nephew.
everyman by M. Shelly Conner
Eve Mann is a young Black woman searching Ideal, Georgia in 1972 for information about her family history. Eve’s parents have been a mystery her entire life, and Eve has major questions about her identity. She is supported in her search by her best friend Nelle, whose confidence in her own identity as someone who loves women strengthens Eve. Eve discovers that her family’s history dates back to the turn of the twentieth century in the South and continues into her present as a young woman living in Chicago during the Black Power movements, surrounded by other Black women in their own stages of self-discovery (can you say Pride!)
The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott
Luck was something that came naturally for Emily and her mother – until she died from cancer, and Emily’s life fell apart the summer before her senior year. After she and her boyfriend break up and her father sells her childhood home, Emily finds herself lonely, and the only person around to talk to is her dad’s best friend’s daughter, Blake. The two form a bond Emily wasn’t expecting when they find her mother’s summer bucket list from when she was a senior. They decide to complete the list, and Emily encounters a part of herself she had never been able to express before.
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee
Noah Ramirez is a transgender teen boy who writes a blog called the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of transgender love stories. The only problem is all the stories are fantasies of Noah’s – none of them are real. When someone exposes Noah’s blog as fiction, he has to convince his readers the stories are true, but he has no proof. Unexpectedly, Drew comes into Noah’s life and agrees to fake-date him to keep his blog going. Noah finds that his feelings for Drew are stronger than their fake relationship, and Noah realizes how unpredictable relationships and love truly can be.
Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June
Being the only out gay kid in his small town in Washington, Jay Collier dreams about his first experiences with love and romance. He creates a list of all the things he wants to experience romantically and calls it his Gay Agenda. To his surprise, Jay moves to Seattle for his senior year and ends up at a high school where the LGBTQIA+ community is popular and thriving, and he finally feels like he fits in. As Jay starts to complete things on his Gay Agenda, he finds that love and life don’t always cooperate with an agenda.
Love & Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura
A fake relationship is not what Nozomi Nagai pictured for her summer love life. She meets her ideal girl, Willow, but Willow is heartbroken from her past relationship. When she asks Nozomi to be her fake girlfriend to make her ex mad, Nozomi agrees; she believes she can make Willow see that she would treat her better than her ex ever did, and hopes she’ll want the relationship to be real in the end. As Nozomi’s lies begin to surface, her schemes start to turn towards disaster… and maybe towards a real relationship.
The Key to You and Me by Jaye Robin Brown
Piper Kitts is living with her grandmother during the summer trying to get over her ex-girlfriend when her grandmother forces her to conquer her fear of driving. For her driving instructor she hires Kat Pearson, a girl who always thought she liked girls but was unable to explore her feelings fearing judgment from her small North Carolina town. While Piper deals with missing her ex and Kat navigates the feelings she has for Piper, they also begin to explore their relationship together, and learn things about themselves that could possibly lead to a romantic future neither had predicted.
The 2000s Made Me Gay: Essays on Pop Culture by Grace Perry
The Onion contributor Grace Perry didn’t have the same experience as most LGBTQ youth do now, where they have heroes and roles models in their community to look up to; she had to look for queer representation in pop culture media, something hard to find in that era. The early 2000s were a time where being straight was the norm and being gay was not heavily represented in the mainstream. In her hilarious and nostalgic trip through 2000s pop culture, Grace Perry interweaves cultural criticism with personal narrative to examine how a very straight era birthed a very queer woman.
Tomboyland: Essays by Melissa Faliveno
In her examination of gender, desire, identity, class, and the places we call home, Melissa Faliveno blends stories of growing up in straight-as-an-arrow working-class Wisconsin and a growing sense of womanhood, queerness, and questioning. What happens when from the place where girls are girls and boys are boys our identities feel like something other? What happens when the norm is derived from? Faliveno traverses through personal narrative and Midwestern examination to ask curious, honest, and darkly hilarious questions about belonging, the body, isolation, and community – and that’s what Pride’s all about, baby!
Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer
The first time John Paul Brammer was called “Papi” was by a white man on the gay hookup app, Grindr. What started as a somewhat flattering yet racialized moniker later became inspiration for his now insanely popular queer advice column “¡Hola Papi!” and made him the Cheryl Strayed for young queer people – and some straights, too. After finding the confidence in himself for the column, JP Brammer now hits the gays with his story about growing up biracial and in the closet while trying to answer life’s roughest questions: How do I become myself? Is there such thing as being too gay? Should I hook up with my grade school bully now that he’s out? Lucky for us, he’s also included the answers.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo are private academy students chosen to be a part of their elite senior class prefects. This is a fantastic opportunity, both for college applications and it puts them each on track for possible valedictorian. After the students accept the position, someone who goes by the name Aces begins to sabotage their new opportunity. Aces begins sending anonymous text messages which reveal secrets about each student that can ruin their entire college and future plans beyond school. But the troubles don’t stop with the texts, and Devon and Chiamaka must stop Aces before the texts reveal too much.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
This romance is the perfect example of how holding onto hope the that your dream person is out there is worth it in the end. 23-year-old August has lost all hope in love and that magical happy ending. She takes the train every day in New York City and is used to her boring routine, until a new passenger arrives on the train. Jane, who is everything August could have ever wished for in a woman, is more than an old school punk rocker: she’s literally displaced from the 1970s. Just like that, August must lean on the magic and hope she had just started to doubt to help her girl lost in time.