10 Great LGBTQ+ books you should read in 2021

Enjoy a quiet evening with these refreshingly inspiring LGBTQ+ books picks from a variety of genres.

Arts Arts and Culture Simon Elstad

This article was published on February 1st, 2021

Fifty plus years after the Stonewall Riots that ignited the modern gay rights movement, the LGBTQ community has come along way, a journey captured in stories and books.

However, books go beyond the obvious and delve into the meat of human issues, including love, life, heartbreaks etc.

In these books, you’ll find themes that resonate with your gay life. Also, in the wake of wrongful black deaths, you’ll learn that the push for equal rights was initially fiercely championed by a marginalized group – people of colour, and especially black trans women protesting police brutality before the wider community took up the cause.

Photo by Blaz Photo on Unsplash

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Benjamin Alire Saenz

Don’t let the title fool you. This is a book about young love, and not, as you’d imagine, about two ancient philosophers. The young adult book explores the magical love between two young boys of colour, despite all the odds and obstacles on their way.

The book is an excellent read for older kids or young adults. But, even adults will find the star-crossed love story fascinating and learn a thing or two.

Giovanni’s Room

James Baldwin

A hot young man finds himself torn between desire and morality in 1950’s expat Paris. Different times indeed. But the lessons still resonate in this novel that has captured queers’ imaginations for decades now.

While much has changed from the charmed ’50s when Baldwin wrote the novel, some aspects and lessons on love, life, heartbreak and relationships remain.

On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual

Penguin Classics

What does it mean to be a homosexual and a member of the LGBTQ community? This book was initially published as an essay responding to a homophobic essay in Harper’s Magazine.

It’s one of the earliest gay memoirs and reaffirms the struggles and importance of coming out.

Call Me by Your Name: A Novel

Picador

If you’ve already watched the movie by the same name, then you’re in for a different kind of treat. In the novel (and film) that became an international sensation, a young adolescent boy falls in love with an older man, a guest at his parents’ home in the Italian Riviera.

The passion heats up during their time together, catching both the protagonists off guard and leading to a reckless love story. Even if you’ve watched the movie, the exciting love suspense in the book will keep you turning the pages.

Maurice: A Novel

E. M. Forster

Written in 1913 but published in 1971, the book follows Maurice, the title character, as he falls in love with another boy, Clive, while at school.

Clive eventually leaves Maurice and marries a woman. However, Maurice falls in love with another man. The twists, turns, and surprises make for a fun read. Did everyone live happily ever after? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

In at the Deep End

Kate Davies

A young woman’s search for meaning, exciting sex life and identity leads her to a new city where she learns she’s queer.

What ensues is a steamy account of her conquests, an odyssey of sorts into self-discovery and sexual reawakening. It’s also a lesson about how a bad relationship can alter the course of your life.

Raw, honest, and steamy, maybe keep it away from the kids!

City of Night

John Rechy

Gay people are synonymous with fun times and vibrant nightlife. But, what happens in the dark?

Take a first-hand look into the underground world of gay hustlers, sex workers, and drag queens. For a book that scandalized the world when it first came out, it has gone on to become a classic, revered, admired and held in the same level with writing legends like Kerouac.

The Tradition

Jericho Brown

Since Amanda Gorman mesmerized the world with her poetry performance during President Biden’s inauguration, poetry has gone through a renewal.

A Pulitzer Prize winner, this book of poetry explores fatherhood, what it means to be black today, identity, and what freedom means in today’s America. The book is an excellent read, even for those who don’t typically read poetry.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

You’ve probably read this classic and completely missed the gay subtext. Maybe you’ll catch it the second or third time around.

It’s about a man who never ages. But, he has a portrait of himself, safely hidden away, that gets older and older by the day.

This is one of the most subtle LGBTQ books you’ll read, fittingly so, just like the author himself.

Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America; Essays

R. Eric Thomas

What does it mean to be queer in America right now? What challenges, struggles and tribulations do queers go through in securing jobs, housing, healthcare, and basic services?

Eric’s book is an eye-opener to the life of the typical LGBTQ person in America. An Elle columnist, this incredible memoir cuts across the issues in a humorous yet critical eye to the prevailing culture. Reading it feels like peeling back layers that have been blinding you your entire life.

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