8 Queer Book Recommendations For Pride Month!
Literature and Art have been some of the best ways the LGBTQ+ community have been represented from time, luckily in our time these representations no longer have to be hidden in literary innuendos and open ended plots.
Over the years, Queer literature has evolved into a safe space for many to find and accept themselves.
As Pride month gradually comes to an end, we put together some queer literature that you should definietly read.
THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Loosely inspired by the lives of actresses Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Gardner, is this pulsating piece of Historical fiction that centres the life of a fictional Hollywood star, Evelyn Hugo. After a lifetime of reclusive, luxurious and adventurous living, 79 year old Evelyn Hugo decides to tell her story to the world, when she invites reporter Monique Grant and reveals that she wants her to write her biography, Monique is surprised as to why she has been specifically chosen but agrees to.
Evelyn Hugo’s life is punctuated by seven scandalous marriages as she climbs the ladder to fame in her career. The book explores Evelyn’s various marriages, the lengths she goes to maintain her fame and her secret love life. Taylor Jenkins gives us an authentic classic ‘Hollywood in the 50’s’ story, wrapped in twists and drama.
SISTER OUTSIDER by Audre Lorde
In this collection of fifteen groundbreaking essays and speeches dating from 1976 to 1984, Audre Lorde focuses on her multifaceted identities as a black, lesbian feminist and explores the complexities of these identities while confronting all the systems of oppression that exist to harm and dehumanize the people that fall into one or all these categories, ranging from police brutality, racism, homophobia, heterosexism and violence against women, drawing from some of her personal experiences.
The essays in this collection have served as a landmark in the development of contemporary feminist theory in the academia and literary world to this day. In the midst of all of the above, these essays also explore love, self-love, building communities to drive equality, black feminism and sexuality.
VAGABONDS! by Eloghosa Osunde
One short story at a time, in the very heart beat of a literal living and breathing city of Lagos, Eko, Osunde creates a safe place for the misfits and outcasts to exist as their true selves in a city that is determined to chew them up and spit them out while confronting all the reasons they’ve been othered in the first place. But even the safest spaces can not completely keep away the claws of exclusion and descrimination especially when the city spirit, Eko, has its eyes and ears everywhere.
With colourful, unforgettable characters, portrayed in both their gore and glory, and a familiar Nigerianess that adds flavour, each story draws an engrossing attention to the “us” and “them” distinctions in class, gender and sexuality that are often the bedrock of exclusion.
THE BERMUDEZ TRIANGLE by Maureen Johnson
The Bermudez Triangle is a Young Adult fiction novel that centres the friendship of three best friends, Nina, Avery and Mel. At the end of the summer before their senior year of high school, Nina returns from a summer program in a different city to find out that her bestfriends, Avery and Mel are now more than just BFF’s. The story details each girl, coming to terms with the new development and change in their relationships and individual identities.
Contrary to how stories like this pan out, the book is a lot more friendship-themed than romantic, it also explores teenage struggle with identity and sexuality in a more open minded society and is packed with coming of age drama. It is a light and easy read
SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN by Sherley Parker-Chan
She Who Became The Sun is where the stories of Mulan and The Song of Achilles meet to give us an epic fantasy novel that explores the blurred lines of gender identity and doing all that it takes to find one's way in a world that does not accept them for who they truly are. The writer also describes the book as “a queer reimagining of the rise to power of the Hongwu Emperor” in the 14th century.
Set in an alternate China, Zhu Chongbha, although born to an impoverished household, has been prophesied to have a great destiny but when he dies after an attack on his village, his sister adopts his identity and begins her journey to greatness and power. Zhu’s determination, ambition and willingness to sacrifice anything in her pursuit for greatness is what gives the story vim. As her rise to greatness is threatened by revenge of an old enemy and juggling the facade of the identity she portrays to the public, we get a mind bending story packed with action and adventure.
SHE CALLED ME WOMAN by Azeenarh Mohammed & Chitra Nagarajan.
She Called Me Woman paints a vivid picture of what it means to be a queer Nigerian Woman, through first hand accounts of thirty narratives and interviews, from women negotiating their lives and identities, admist the constrains of societal expectations. A much needed collection on Resistance, resilience, joy, laughter, heartbreak and the tearful realities of queerness in African societies.
The book painstakingly addresses the legal status of homosexuality in Nigeria, homosexuality and the African family, the cognitive disonance and even denial of queerness in our society, homosexuality and religion, rejection, mental health within the LGBTQ+ community, emancipation and the consequences that come with making the decision to no longer remain invisible.
THE DEATH OF VIVEK ORJI by Akwaeke Emezi
Vivek Orji died of a broken heart, the pain of being misunderstood and not being accepted by those he loved. When his mother finds him dead at her door step, naked but wrapped in a colourful fabric, she is determined to find out how her beloved son was murdered. Through the lens of various characters who are close relations from Vivek’s life, we are drawn into the events that led to his death and the aftermath.
No queer lit recommendation list is complete without this moving book. It tells a complicated story about acceptance from oneself, one's family and one's community and how it affects said individual. It's a touching tale on LGBTQ+ identity, sexuality, gender identity and how the secrets we keep, especially from our loved ones, can bind or break us apart. A bittersweet story packed with layers of love and loss.
BLACK GIRL CALL HOME by Jasmine Mans
Black girl call home is a love letter to the Black women who are on a journey to self discovery, belonging, truth, healing and the bittersweet path to adulthood.
A collection of poems that serve as an ode to black girlhood within the perimeters of race, feminism, queer identity and beyond while unapologetically echoing the voice of black womanhood in all the ways that it can exist, breaking the sterotypes and barriers that limit our representation. Each poem progresses in a coming of age manner as we meet her at first, young and impressionable and follow her through the path to black womanhood.