eading is all about exploring new worlds and meeting new people that help you escape the reality of your own. However, if you are a straight, cis-gender reader, what is the point of always reading stories that involve straight cis-gender characters? Reading LGBTQIA+ stories is not just for those in the LGBTQIA+ community, but for everyone as society begins the journey into normalizing LGBTQIA+ experiences.

Whether you are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community or not, it is always an educational and important experience to read literature that revolves around identities that are not traditionally represented in different forms of media. Reading books from LGBTQIA+ authors about LGBTQIA+ characters and how they explore their identity and normalize their experience is a great way to start diversifying your bookshelf.

Find your next favorite LGBTQIA+ author in any genre you could imagine:

  • LGBTQIA+ Authors Writing Young Adult Fiction
  • Adult Fiction LGBTQIA+ Authors
  • True Experiences and Raw Emotions in LGBTQIA+ Non-Fiction
Cover of Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender.
Felix Ever After cover by Kacen Callender. Image courtesy of NPR.

LGBTQIA+ Authors Writing Young Adult Fiction

Authors that can encapsulate the feelings of difference and desire for love for young adult LGBTQIA+ characters.

In case you didn’t know, Young Adult books are not just for “young adults.” They’re really for adults of any age. While you may not particularly want to travel back in time to your high school days, reading about the high school experiences of LGBTQIA+ youth can be very enlightening. Afterall, it is an experience that almost all readers will be able to relate to.

📚 Adam Silvera: Originally from New York City, Adam Silvera currently resides in Los Angeles and is the author of several novels that feature an array of LGBTQIA+ characters that you are bound to fall in love with. Silvera’s works include More Happy Than Not, History is All You Left Me, They Both Die at the End, and What If It’s Us with Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda. Silvera is also currently working on The Infinity Cycle series, which was released at the beginning of this year.

All of Silvera’s works include stories of LGBTQIA+ youth that are struggling with their identities and navigating the world of love and acceptance as young, gay individuals. What If It’s Us is a great novel to begin with if interested in reading his work. The novel features Ben and Arthur, who meet in the middle of a flash mob at a post office in the middle of New York City, but are separated before they have the chance to exchange contact information. You will find yourself rooting for this adorable couple and hope the answer is “yes” to the question “what if it’s us?”

📚 Kacen Callender: Kacen Callender is a Lambda Award winning author for their middle-grade LGBTQIA+ fiction. While Callender also writes middle-grade and adult fiction, their young adult works are truly spectacular. If you want to read LGBTQIA+ young adult fiction, you really don’t need to look any further than Kacen Callender.

Callender has two young adult novels, Felix Ever After and This is Kind of an Epic Love Story. Both stories feature Black LGBTQIA+ characters that will steal your heart. If you are looking to read more diverse books, you will also want to read stories of intersectionality, which these stories will provide you. Felix Ever After in particular follows Felix Love, who just happens to be a Black, transgender, and gay teenage boy. Felix and his story will rip your heart out and put it back together and is a must read for everyone.

📚 Lev A.C. Rosen: Lev A.C. Rosen is a New York City native, where he still resides with his husband. Rosen also writes middle-grade and adult fiction that include LGBTQIA+ characters and are definitely worth checking out. However, Rosen’s two young adult novels, Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) and Camp will have you laughing, crying, and rejoicing at these LGBTQIA+ characters that proudly celebrate their identities.

If you are looking for a novel that follows a confident LGBTQIA+ main character that normalizes his experience as an out high schooler, Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) is the story you have been looking for. Jack is unapologetically himself, wearing eyeliner and tight jeans to school and will not pay any mind to anyone that is trying to stop him. That is until he starts receiving threatening messages and his world is turned upside down.

📚 Phil Stamper: While Phil Stamper currently resides in New York City with his husband, he grew up in rural Ohio, which adds a unique and relatable style to his LGBTQIA+ young adult novels. Stamper’s novels The Gravity of Us and As Far as You’ll Take Me both feature gay male couples that you will not be able to help but wish that they end up together living a happily ever after. Stamper has his third novel coming out next year, in 2022, titled Golden Boys which will feature four LGBTQIA+ best friends and a summer in their rural town.

The Gravity of Us soars to new heights as Cal’s life is uprooted from New York City to Texas, as his dad has been chosen for the next space mission. All hope is lost, until he meets fellow “astrokid” Leon, who steals Cal’s heart. Will it be all happily ever after, or will the mission through a blast in their relationship? Cal and Leon will give you the taste of the high school summer love that you always dreamed of.

Casey McQuiston and the cover of her novel Red, White & Royal Blue
Author Casey McQuiston of New York Times Bestseller Red, White & Royal Blue. Image courtesy of Vanity Fair.

Adult Fiction LGBTQIA+ Authors

While they may be few and far between, adult fiction LGBTQIA+ authors will always deliver.

Unfortunately, adult fiction is not as progressive as young adult fiction is in terms of including LGBTQIA+ authors. Though, when you do come across adult fiction from LGBTQIA+ authors, you will certainly not be disappointed. There are some real hidden gems for the LGBTQIA+ community in these stories.

📚 Casey McQuiston: Casey McQuiston is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Red, White & Royal Blue, which features the first son of the president of the United States and the Prince of England. This enemies to lovers story follows Alex and Henry as they navigate their feelings as they stand on a national stage while they are an ocean away from each other.

McQuiston’s second novel, One Last Stop, was released last month. This story follows August, who meets Jane, who is really from the 1970s. Set in New York City, August has to grapple with the fact that this person she has fallen in love with may not be possible.

📚 Steven Rowley: Steven Rowley is the author of three beautiful and heartwarming adult fiction novels that normalizes the experiences of their LGBTQIA+ characters. Lily and the Octopus, The Editor, and, the most recent, The Guncle. If you are positive that you don’t want to reenter the world of high school, any of these novels are certain to bring you the same level of visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community that the Young Adult novels do.

Book display of George M. Johnson's All Boys Aren't Blue
Lose yourself in George M. Johnson’s powerful memoir and manifesto All Boys Aren’t Blue. Image courtesy of The Quintessential Gentleman.

True Experiences and Raw Emotions in LGBTQIA+ Non-Fiction

If non-fiction is more your thing, there are plenty of beautiful memoirs and autobiographies that come from LGBTQIA+ authors.

While everyone loves a fictional story of an LGBTQIA+ summer romance or a transgender boy finding his way, sometimes reading the real thing is even better. Thankfully, there are quite a few memoirs, autobiographies, or collections of non-fiction essays that tell the story of real LGBTQIA+ people and the real LGBTQIA+ experience. These will surely inspire you without the promise of a not always realistic happily ever after.

📚 George M. Johnson: George M. Johnson is a journalist and HIV and LGBTQIA+ activist that is also known for his memoir and manifesto All Boys Aren’t Blue. In this memoir and manifesto, Johnson proudly proclaims his identity as a queer Black man and not only shares his journey of self-love, but also shares ways that those in the LGBTQIA+ community are able to be an ally to those less fortunate in their community.

📚 Glennon Doyle: Glennon Doyle is the author behind the New York Times Bestseller Untamed, which is a memoir that depicts her journey in uncovering her truth as a woman loving woman in an unhappy marriage with a man. Doyle shares her journey in an effort to empower other women to tune into their own voices and declare their truth that they have been denying themselves. This is a must read for anyone of any identity.

As you begin your journey in diversifying your bookshelf with some of these amazing LGBTQIA+ authors and their heartwarming stories, keep in mind that just because a story features main characters that are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community does not mean that the author is also a part of the community. While you are still able to, and should, enjoy these stories, it is also important to support authors of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Jun 5, 2021