Pride Month is already winding down, and this year, it’s looking quite a bit different than usual. While mass gatherings, marches, and celebrations are largely cancelled amidst COVID-19, there are many other ways to celebrate the LGBT+ community.
And one alternative way is to support the work of LGBT+ authors. Purchasing, reading, and sharing books by queer writers is something you can do from the comfort of your home — which still goes a long way in uplifting oft-marginalized voices.
Here are five of my favourite books by LGBT+ authors from the past few years. They vary in subject matter, but all include some form of a personal narrative:
1. Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope by Karamo Brown
Known best for his role as the culture expert of Netflix’s hit Queer Eye, Karamo Brown gives an intensely personal and uplifting account of his life in this memoir. Never one to shy away from deep and complicated conversations, Brown gives an intimate look at his own struggles and triumphs.
You may be used to watching Brown facilitate the emotional transformations of Queer Eye’s heroes, but his own life story is perhaps the most interesting of all. This book covers so many intersecting issues, like growing up in an abusive household, navigating substance abuse/mental health issues, and growing up as a gay, black man in America.
Brown tackles each subject with care, ultimately leaving the reader feeling challenged and inspired. As a trained social worker, he is a master at using difficult experiences to facilitate personal growth, and after reading his memoir, you’ll understand the why behind his signature process. Keep your tissues handy, but rest assured that you’ll leave feeling the warmth and hope Brown is known for providing.
2. Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future by Pete Buttigieg
A New York Times bestseller, this autobiography by Democratic nominee hopeful Pete Buttigieg is reflective and beautiful. Full disclosure — I’m currently part-way through reading this title, but I’m already deeply engaged in his story.
With perhaps the most unique resume imaginable, Buttigieg has won over the hearts of many this past year in the spotlight. The first openly-gay person to run a major presidential campaign, his life story has been broadcast frequently as of late.
Buttigieg is Harvard-educated, Oxford-educated, a former recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, an Afghanistan War veteran, and a former small-town mayor of South Bend, Indiana. (And just a few sentences into this book, you’ll notice that his writing style is indicative of an Ivy League literature major.)
If you’ve ever been curious about the backstory of this LGBT+ trailblazer, definitely check out his autobiography.
In this personal finance title, self-proclaimed bi-con (“bisexual icon”) Gaby Dunn continues the conversation started in her popular podcast, Bad with Money. Recognized by many for her early work at Buzzfeed, Dunn’s accomplishments span genres.
Since leaving Buzzfeed to start Just Between Us (a YouTube-channel-turned-podcast) with comedy partner Allison Raskin, Dunn has also co-authored a New York Times bestselling YA novel and recently put out her first comic book.
Bad with Money (the book) takes Dunn’s own money journey and blends it with her classic wit, focus on intersectional activism, and all the info she’s learned since starting her hit podcast of the same name.
Funny, cheeky, and blunt, the book is an excellent look at the personal finance space from the lens of an author deeply concerned with intersecting forms of oppression such as systemic racism, LGBT+ marginalization, and sexism.
Always one to centre social activism in her work, this book by Dunn is a must-read for anyone interested in improving their financial situation or learning more about her unique story of improving her own.
4. Naturally Tan by Tan France
This Sunday Times bestselling autobiography is written by another Queer Eye expert: Tan France. Known for his impeccable fashion sense and no-BS attitude, France is another extremely interesting LGBT+ figure.
His Wikipedia bio notes how France became “one of the very first openly gay South Asian men on a major show, and one of the first out gay Muslim men on western television.” Another LGBT+ trailblazer, France’s autobiography is a witty, fun, and frank account of his fascinating life.
France covers everything from growing up as one of the only people of colour in his British neighbourhood to coming out as gay to his family. Though he describes how difficult it was facing intersecting challenges like racism and homophobia, his story is ultimately one of triumph.
A massively-successful fashion designer now married to the love of his life (an American cowboy), France weaves the tale of how he became the man he is today. Interspersed with his trademark fashion advice, this memoir is another must-read (which extends far beyond the importance of a French tuck).
5. I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff by Abbi Jacobson
Lastly, this collection of personal essays is by Broad City co-creator Abbi Jacobson. Already a New York Times bestselling author before writing this title, her tender account of a solo cross-country adventure is essential reading for any newly-out queer person.
Although you likely know this multi-faceted artist best for her stoner comedy style and cheeky drawings, I Might Regret This is an excellent account of what it’s like to face your first big heartbreak. The book follows Jacobson as she grapples with falling in (and out) of love for the first time ever — with a woman.
Whether you’re a diehard Broad City fan or just an individual questioning your sexuality, this title is another arresting personal story to consider reading.
And there you have it: my list of five great books to check out this Pride Month. Thank you, as always, for reading the Writing Advice blog, and be sure to subscribe to be notified of each new article.