June is Pride Month, a time to not only commemorate the Stonewall uprising that helped launch the LGBTQ+ movement in June 1969 but also to celebrate and recognize LGBTQ+ communities.
In honor of the month, we’ve rounded up 20 books, including new releases and classics, memoirs and fiction, journalistic accounts and collections of essays. From bestselling memoirs to Pulitzer Prize-winning novels to historical accounts, these Pride Month-themed selections offer insight to the LGBTQ+ experience.
Read on for essential books to add to your list during Pride Month and beyond.
‘The Prophets’ by Roger Jones Jr.
Jones’ bestselling debut novel features the lyrical story of Isaiah and Samuel, two enslaved men on a plantation in Mississippi who find refuge in their love for one another in the face of violence and unimaginable cruelty.
‘Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993’ by Sarah Schulman
Written over a 20-year span and involving 200-plus interviews, Schulman chronicles the achievements, conflicts and legacy of ACT UP, New York, an AIDS activism coalition that confronted the AIDS crisis head-on. At nearly 700 pages, it’s a historical account that offers an oral history straight from the activists involved.
‘Detransition, Baby’ by Torrey Peters
In this bestselling novel that explores the idea of family, Reese, a trans woman, splits with Amy, who is detransitioning and becomes Ames. Reese wants a baby and when Ames impregnates his new lover, Katrina, who may not want to keep the child, Ames proposes the three raise the baby together.
‘Fairest’ by Meredith Talusan
In this coming-of-age memoir, Talusan writes of her extraordinary life — from being raised in the Philippines with albinism to immigrating to America, being seen as white, attending Harvard and transitioning to a woman. Gender, race, identity, love, art. It’s no wonder Talusan’s book is a finalist for the 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction.
‘Redefining Realness: My Path To Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More’ by Janet Mock
Mock’s 2014 bestselling memoir offers an inspirational and honest look at her story of growing up transgender, poor and multiracial. The advocate, writer and TV host shares her story of coping with a drug-addicted father, sexual abuse and prostitution, as well as her transition and the family and friends who not only accepted her but embraced her and the woman she was becoming.
‘Giovanni’s Room’ by James Baldwin
Set in 1950s Paris, Baldwin’s controversial 1956 novel follows American expat David who begins a relationship with Italian bartender Giovanni while his fiancée, Hella, is away. Sexuality, identity, masculinity and concealment are all themes that make this a gay literature classic.
‘The Stonewall Reader’ edited by the New York Public Library
A compilation of first-person accounts and diary entries from activists and participants, along with news articles, essays and more, this work tells the story of events that surrounded the 1969 Stonewall riots, largely seen as the start of the nation’s LGBT civil rights movement.
‘Call Me By Your Name’ by Andre Aciman
The basis for the Academy Award-winning film, Aciman’s novel traces the relationship between Elio, 17, a teenage musician, and Oliver, the 24-year-old summer houseguest of Elio’s professor dad. Set along the Italian Riviera, it’s passionate, romantic, complicated, tender, painful, erotic, melancholy — everything you want from a beautifully written love story.
‘Untamed’ by Glennon Doyle
A No. 1 New York Times bestseller, Doyle’s candid 2020 memoir explores her divorce, parenting, falling in love with soccer star Abby Wambach, body image, feminism and learning to love herself. Need a boost of female empowerment? Here it is.
‘Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic’ by Alison Bechdel
Bechdel’s bestselling graphic memoir surrounds her relationship with her father, a high school teacher who also runs a funeral home (which her family called the “fun home”) in their rural Pennsylvania town. After coming out as a lesbian in college, she finds her dad is also gay — but he dies from an apparant suicide soon after she learns this, leaving unanswered questions. Adapted for the stage, the Broadway production of “Fun Home” won the Tony for Best Musical in 2015.
‘Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag’ by Rob Sanders and Steven Salerno
“Harvey dreamed that everyone — even gay people — would have equality. He dreamed that he and his friends would be treated like everyone else.” So states this children’s book that tells the history of the rainbow-colored gay pride flag, a symbol created by social activist and openly gay politician Harvey Milk, who collaborated with designer Gilbert Baker to create the enduring symbol in 1978.
‘The Price of Salt’ by Patricia Highsmith
Highsmith’s 1952 novel of forbidden love focuses on two women — a 30-something suburban housewife and mother who is getting divorced and a 19-year-old sales clerk. Turned into the Oscar-nominated movie “Carol,” the story has endured as a lesbian cult classic.
‘The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage’ by Sasha Issenberg
An Amazon No. 1 new release, journalist Issenberg’s exploration of the history of the conflict and controversy over same-sex marriage covers the debate that eventually led to two landmark US Supreme Court decisions that legalized the right for gay couples to wed. Part political history, civil rights struggle and legal drama, it’s a comprehensive narrative on the LGBTQ rights battle.
‘Less’ by Andrew Sean Greer
Greer’s smart, hilarious Pulitzer Prize-winning 2017 novel follows Arthur Less, a middle-aged failed author who decides to travel the world to various (and questionable) literary events rather than accept an invitation to attend his ex-boyfriend’s wedding. What and who he encounters along the way will have you doubled over with laughter.
‘All In: An Autobiography’ by Billie Jean King
One of tennis’s greatest legends, King’s memoir recounts not only her rise to the top-ranked women’s player in the world, her “Battle of the Sexes” defeat of Bobby Riggs and whopping 20 Wimbledon wins, but also being outed, her public acknowledgment of her sexual identity when she was 51 and her activism in the LGBTQ+ movement.
‘Boy Erased’ by Garrard Conley
The basis for the Nicole Kidman/Russell Crowe movie of the same name, Conley’s 2016 bestselling memoir follows the life of the son of a Baptist preacher living in rural Arkansas who is conflicted about his sexuality. After being outed to his parents at 19, Conley was forced to attend a conversion therapy program or lose his family and friends. It’s a brave account of faith, love and identity that will keep you engaged from beginning to end.
‘David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music’ by Darryl Bullock
Music writer and biographer Bullock’s encyclopedic look at LGBTQ musicians covers everyone from Ma Rainey to Little Richard to Dusty Springfield to Freddie Mercury to Boy George to, of course, the Thin White Duke himself.
‘The Guncle’ by Steven Rowley
Following the death of their mother and a health crisis affecting their father, Maise and Grant’s “Gay Uncle Patrick” suddenly finds himself as primary guardian of two young children. “Guncle Rules” aside, he must learn what it means to be a parent in this funny and heartwarming beach read.
‘The Queer Bible’ by Jack Guinness
The founder of QueerBible.com has released this beautifully illustrated collection of essays in which queer authors write about their own heroes and inspirations in the LGBTQ+ community: Think Elton John on Divine, skier Gus Kenworthy on figure skater Adam Rippon, TV star Tan France on “Queer Eye” or comedian Mae Martin on Tim Curry.
‘Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss and the Fight for Trans Equality’ by Sarah McBride
Before she became America’s first openly transgender state senator, McBride wrote this powerful 2018 memoir, chronicling her struggles with coming out and identity, her work as a transgender activist and advocate, finding love with a trans man and more.