For centuries, literature has worked as a tool to understand our reality a little bit better. Authors around the world have created fictional realities that allow readers to understand themselves better, feel accepted, relate to a situation similar to theirs, and simply feel like they belong. Members of the LGBTQ+ community search for these kinds of books, particularly in times of need. They become an escape from a reality that might be harmful, a safe haven, and a way to better understand themselves. For that reason, here are five LGBTQ+ books you must read.
1. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
In 2016, Gabby Rivera independently did what so many lesbians needed — she gave them a book to understand themselves, feel seen, and belong in the fictional Bronx and Portland. Juliet is a Latina lesbian coming out to her parents, working with her favorite author, and figuring herself out through every new experience.
Juliet Takes a Breath is the kind of book you must read if you are still trying to accept your sexuality and find a way to share that with the world. Gabby Rivera did what needed to be done and gave the community a very relatable story.
2. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Most individuals grew up watching Disney princesses fall in love with the perfect prince, but many could not relate to that. They were looking for that story in which the prince falls in love with another prince and, hopefully, they get to live happily ever after. Casey McQuiston brought that story to life in her pages as the First Son of America falls in love with a British Prince.
Red, White & Royal Blue portrays true love, which is not always diplomatic, and gives young individuals an opportunity to witness a Disney-like love story. Casey McQuiston created a kingdom of acceptance.
3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Discovering your sexuality and coming to terms with it is one of the most challenging journeys a person can go on. That is precisely what Benjamin Alire Sáenz showcases in his novel. His two main characters are followed for two years while they learn the most important truths about themselves, who they are as individuals, and what kind of people they want to be.
Although coming-of-age young adult novels are very common, not many of them portray what it is like to grow up exploring your sexuality. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is the perfect example of why we need more coming-of-age novels for LGBTQ+ individuals to relate to.
4. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Self-discovery and falling in love are the most terrifying experiences a young person can go through. Mainly if you fall in love for the first time while you are coming to understand who you are and where you want to go in life. Callender opened the space for Black, queer, transgender people to feel seen and represented while finding a character they can finally relate to.
Felix Ever After gives a story of self-discovery, acceptance, and love that everyone in the LGBTQ+ community needs. Although falling in love and finding yourself is scary, they are the most beautiful things you can do in life.
5. Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown wrote about lesbians in a time when it was perceived as something horrifying. She gave a voice to others like her by creating a world in which lesbians clearly existed, and they had a right to be themselves. A coming-of-age autobiographical creation in which other young women could relate to the main character and come to terms with their sexuality.
Rubyfruit Jungle became an extremely popular LGBTQ+ story, opening the floor for the Gabby Riveras of the world to create their own stories and for every lesbian to understand it is okay to love women and be themselves. Rita Mae Brown gave them the chance to feel seen.
For many decades, literature was seen as a weapon. When masses needed to be controlled, books were burned, and people were told what they could and could not read. But the truth is that literature can also be healing. It can help souls heal wounds they did not even know they had. It can help individuals finally feel like they belong in the world because there are others out there just like them. These five LGBTQ+ books you must read are the perfect example of literature’s healing powers.