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Celebrating Pride: Reading Recommendations and Research Resources

By Zachary Lewis

In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots, June has long been the month for the celebration of LGBTQ+ pride. Join the University Libraries in the celebration of LGBTQ+ identities by checking out queer literature. Many of these titles are available in the University Libraries’ leisure reading collection, but be sure to check out curbside pickup at your local public library as well!


Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

Mariko Tamaki’s coming-of-age graphic novel explores the complexities of love and romance in all its painful glory. Protagonist Freddy struggles to find self-worth in an on-again off-again relationship with the titular Laura Dean, whose aloofness often leaves Freddy in the dark on her relationship status. What I appreciate most about this title are Tamaki’s normalization of queer identities, and her depiction of queer characters with strong support systems. Themes of self-worth and heartbreak are relatable enough to make this graphic novel an engaging read for folks of all backgrounds and identities.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Ocean Vuong’s epistolary novel is full of exquisite prose and heart-wrenching moments. Written in the form of letters from a son to a mother who will never read them, the book features as its protagonist Little Dog, who details life as a gay Vietnamese American working on a tobacco farm. Little Dog’s relationship with his mother is fraught with abuse and hardship, but Vuong imbues it with a level of love and compassion that is almost primal. Readers follow Little Dog’s explorations of sex, drugs, love and family in this stunning debut novel.

The Prince and the Dressmaker

To go into too much detail on The Prince and the Dressmaker would be to ruin the surprises it has in store. A sparkling fairy tale, a story of love between two friends, and an examination of gender expression, Jen Wang’s graphic novel tells the story of two young adults learning to become their authentic selves in a world that doesn’t always understand them. With gorgeous art, a sharp sense of humor and, most of all, a sense of heart, this book is bound to leave its readers spellbound.

Speak No Evil

Uzodinma Iweala’s Speak No Evil is an unflinching look at intersectionality and what it means to grow up in a culture that values some lives more than others. Speak No Evil follows only two characters: Niru, a gay Nigerian American student, and his straight, white best friend, Meredith. As they near the end of their high school careers, Niru and Meredith come to terms with how their experiences have been shaped by their identities and recognize the undeserving consequences that can come from simply living in a certain body. Iweala paints a portrait of a powerful friendship tested by issues of race, homophobia and privilege that has only become more relevant since its publication.

In the Dream House

Carmen Maria Machado follows up her bizarre and frenetic collection of short stories (Her Body and Other Parties) with one of the most imaginative memoirs ever published. In the Dream House examines an abusive lesbian relationship from the perspective of storytelling tropes. Each chapter begins with the title of the trope in relation to the “Dream House,” what Machado titles life with an abusive partner. With chapters like “Dream House as Noir” and “Dream House as Pop Single,” Machado relays the factual horror of her experience in creative ways that are darkly humorous, unflinchingly reflective and intellectually challenging. Machado’s use of the second person in the novel smartly places the reader under the spotlight. Machado begins her memoir with an examination of the dearth of literature on abusive lesbian relationships. Machado fills that gap by sharing her own experience. It is a raw experience, but one readers will appreciate.

This is How it Always Is

Laurie Frankel’s This is How it Always Is tells a story of family and the pain that comes from protecting the ones we love. When two parents learn that their sixth child, Poppy, is transgender, they quickly learn to navigate a world they had no knowledge of. Soon, dressing Poppy, calling her by her name, and sending her to school all raise challenging questions. In their efforts to smooth the transition for Poppy, her parents work to counter any negative experiences that may come her way, only to learn that sometimes you can’t protect your child from everything. Drawing inspiration for this work of fiction from her own experience as the parent of a trans child, Frankel deftly handles issues regarding trans rights, gender identity and raising a trans child. This is How it Always Is radiates love, compassion and inspiration.

Online research resources

If you’re feeling inspired to do a deeper dive into LGBTQ+ issues after picking up some of these great reads, check out these online research resources that explore the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States and across the globe.

Equality Archive

Equality Archive is a website that offers brief, accessible, peer-reviewed, fact-based, archival entries on different issues, written by over 25 feminists who are professors, artists and authors. It addresses a range of feminist topics including intersectionality, the undocumented queer movement and the concept of “compulsory heterosexuality.” Of particular interest for Pride Month is an entry on transgender women at Stonewall — notably Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two key figures in that historical moment.

Archives of Sexuality & Gender: LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940

This database presents primary sources that explore important aspects of LGBTQ+ life in the second half of the 20th century and beyond with material drawn from hundreds of institutions and organizations, including major international activist organizations and local, grassroots groups.

LGBT Life with Full Text

In this full-text database, you can search a broad range of LGBTQ+ journals, magazines, newspapers, books and reference works. 

Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History 

This online encyclopedia covers LGBTQ topics across the globe. Offering an interdisciplinary approach to LGBTQ+ history, this resource includes many points of entry: film, literature, human rights, politics, landmark legislation, activism, the arts, language, sports and historical events.

— Zachary Lewis is an assistant professor and student success librarian in the University Libraries.

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