June is Pride Month in the United States, commemorating the Stonewall Riots that began on June 28, 1969. They marked a turning point for a new generation of political activism. This is an opportunity to celebrate queer people throughout history and to continue the fight for full and equal rights for LGBTQ+ people around the world.
From history books and intimate mysteries to plenty of romance, we’ve rounded up eight books to help you mark Pride Month.
bad girls by Camila Sosa Villada, translated by Kit Maude
Camila Sosa Villada went to Córdoba to study communications at the university in the Argentinian city. But when she slips into Sarmiento Park to spy on the transvestite, or transgender, sex workers who operate there at night, she quickly finds herself in their family, led by 178-year-old Aunt Encarna.
It’s not a glamorous life – death looms large in the park and the women must endure constant brutality from their families, clients and other sources – but despite the hardships, Camila feels at home for the first time.
A beautifully written and skilfully translated work of autofiction, Sosa Villada’s stories of headless horsemen and women who transform into birds are a stunning mediation on gender, our bodies and the bonds that bind us together.
I was better last night: memory by Harvey Fierstein
I was better last night features stories on everything from Harvey Fierstein’s high school smoking patio to his early days as a supporting actor in Andy Warhol Pork and all the backstage gossip of The Crazy Cage. But the memoirs go far beyond the (often well-deserved) nastiness that punctuates Fierstein’s writing.
He is candid about his struggle with addiction, the sense of abandonment he felt during the AIDS crisis, and the fear that characterized the number of people in the entertainment industry who treated him even as he was winning award after award for his work – much of which focused on the lives of gay people.
The result is a poignant reflection on a decades-long career as a playwright and actor that will have you in turn laughing and crying.
What if Fierstein had just written I was better last night that would have been enough, but we’re happy to say it also narrates the audiobook.
It Was Vulgar and It Was Beautiful: How AIDS Activists Used Art to Fight a Pandemic by Jack Lowery
With a mix of interviews, archival footage and historical documents, It was vulgar and it was beautiful weaves together a ruthless tale of the tireless efforts of activists at the height of the AIDS crisis, with a focus on the arts collective Gran Fury, an offshoot of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP.
Faced with deliberate government inaction and widespread public misinformation, the group approached its activism as a publicity project – looking for material that would grab the public’s attention and draw its attention to the pandemic that was ravaging the country. .
And to their credit, they succeeded. The collective is responsible for some of the most powerful protest arts in modern history, including the now iconic Slogan “Silence = Death” that appeared on posters and shirts in New York.
Lowery tenderly reconstructs the tedious planning, overwhelming sadness and occasional joys of the time to create an accessible story of the AIDS crisis and the activists who fought to make a difference.
Love and other disasters by Anita Kelly
Sometimes love can blossom in unexpected places, like cooking contests!
Recently divorced and stuck in a job she hates, Dahlia Woodson hopes Chef’s Special, a cooking competition for amateur chefs, can give him a chance for a fresh start. Although given his finances, a chance to win the grand prize wouldn’t hurt.
In any case, she’s certainly not looking for romance when she embarrasses herself in front of London Parker, the show’s first non-binary contestant, who hopes to use the winnings to open a nonprofit for gay teenagers. The couple can’t deny the spark between them, and they soon find themselves embroiled in an on-screen and off-screen romance.
But as they deal with family expectations, transphobic contestants and the stakes of losing the competition, Dahlia and London must decide if their romance can handle the heat.
revenge is a witch by Lana Harper
Emmy Harlow left the magical town of Thistle Grove, Illinois, after a bad breakup nine years ago. Now, thanks to a very effective bit of guilt, she’s back to act as a referee for the Gauntlet of the Grove, a spell-casting tournament held every 50 years.
Emmy fully intends to do her job and get out of town as quickly as possible when Linden Thorn – her best friend – and Talia Avramov approach her with a plan to rig the competition against the boy who broke all their hearts: Gareth Blackmoore.
The idea of knocking Gareth off a few pegs is compelling to Emily. There’s just one problem: she can’t stop thinking about Talia.
son of sin by Omar Sakr
Poet Omar Sakr’s debut novel follows Jamal Smith, a queer Arab Australian, through the years as he struggles to smooth the conflict between his desires and the strict Muslim family he loves.
Beginning with Jamal’s sexual awakening during the holiest night of Ramadan, the novel follows him through his teenage years and beyond as he watches the 2005 Cronulla Riots on TV, visits his father separated in Turkey and tries to make sense of the world – and the abuse he endured.
The romantic diary by Claire Kann
Joy, 30, is outgoing, loves puns, and not ashamed of herself or her asexuality. She has also been in love with her best friend, Malcolm, since they met in college, although she never told him.
But when Malcolm asks her to be a fourth wheel on vacation with him, her new love interest Summer and Summer Fox’s ex-boyfriend, it’s too much. Joy needs a plan to show Malcolm what he’s missing before it’s too late.
So when Fox offers to pretend to fall in love to make Malcolm jealous, Joy agrees. After all, what could go wrong?
Auditors by Jane Pek
Claudia Lin has some secrets. Her mother is still trying to arrange Claudia with “a nice Chinese boy”, and no one in her family knows that she left the low-level job in finance her brother found her to work for Veracity, a company that helps customers investigate and “verify” the people they meet on dating sites.
One day, Iris – a mysterious client with an unusual request – shows up at Veracity’s offices. She investigates people she has met online but is no longer in contact with. But when she is found dead, missing an important appointment, Claudia is told to drop the case. Obviously, that’s not an option.
Inspired by her literary hero, Inspector Yuan, Claudia sets out to uncover the truth behind Iris’ death, the human heart, and our online world.