With Pride Month nearing its end we thought we should highlight some great LGBTQ+ fiction that people might want to take the time to check out, and that we’d focus on creators who sometimes get overlooked in the publishing industry – writers of colour.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Latinx teen Yadriel is having problems convincing his family to accept him as a trans man, so sets out on a plan to prove himself a man. When he and his friends hatch a scheme to summon the ghost of his murdered cousin things don’t quite go as planned, and he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, the local bad boy who recently died. Now the two teens are forced to help each other out before Julian can move on, but as they do they find themselves becoming closer.
Hyped up on its release in 2020, Cemetery Boys proved to be a very popular YA novel, incorporating elements from the Latinx experience, trans masculine narratives, the supernatural, and even queer romance. Thanks to Aiden Thomas’ richly imaginative and vibrant narrative, a plot with magic and mystery, and characters that you can’t help but fall in love with, this is a book that should be on everyone’s to-be-read pile.
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Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Set in the halls of Niveus Private Academy, an elite school for the perfect children of the mega-wealthy, Ace of Spades tells the story of Aces, an anonymous figure who reveals dark secrets the students are trying to hide. When two of the most popular students in the school, musician Devon and head girl Chiamaka, are targeted by Aces things become heated across the school.
Having been described as Gossip Girl with a dash of Get Out thrown into the mix, but Black and queer, Ace of Spades has been one of the more highly anticipated YA books of 2021 (having just been released this June). Thanks to Àbíké-Íyímídé’s talent at crafting tension and suspense, as well as some shocking twists and turns in the narrative, the book will hook a lot of readers very quickly. But the book also deals with some heavy topics, and explores the intersection of class, race, and sexualities, bringing some very important topics to the forefront of the book.
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Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Felix is black, queer, and trans, and because he’s never been in love he’s worried that his marginalisations mean that he’s never going to get a love story of his own. When one of the students at his school begins to send anonymous transphobic messages, after publicly posting his deadname and pre-transition photos, Felix sets out to find the culprit and get revenge. However, he never expected to end up falling into a love-triangle, as well as discovering more about himself along the way.
Stories that deal with the harsh reality of transphobia, about how much that kind of abuse can hurt a person, and how society tends not to see it as a real form of abuse, can be hard reads, and there are moments in Felix Ever After that do hit hard, that really put you in Felix’s head and show the pain he’s going through. However, the book is about so much more than that, and is about the beauty and joy of getting to be your true self, it’s about self discovery and love, and it makes for an incredibly moving and memorable piece.
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Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
It’s been 200 years since Cinderella met her prince, and now every year teen girls are required to attend the Annual Ball, where they have to find a husband by demonstrating their finery and grace. Those that are not picked are never heard from again. However, sixteen-year-old Sophia doesn’t want a husband; she wants to marry her childhood best friend Erin. When she flees the Ball and finds herself in Cinderella’s mausoleum she meets the last descendent of Cinderella, and the two of them vow to bring down the king and end this horrible tradition.
Cinderella is Dead is an inventive twist on the classic fairy tale, one that shows the more frightening side to these childhood tales, but also one that centres a Black queer girl as the hero of the piece; something we need more of. With some pretty unexpected twists and surprises, some intense moments, and young queer women setting out to destroy the patriarchy, this might be a book based on story centuries old, but it’s definitely geared to a modern audience.
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The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Michael is coming to terms with his identity as a mixed race and gay teen in the UK, but when he discovers the art of drag he finds a new way to come to terms with who he is and express himself under the drag identity The Black Flamingo. Through his adventures with his new drag friends he learns to embrace the parts of himself he was never allowed to before, as well as finding love.
Written in verse, this YA book is nothing if not a celebration of the beauty of both blackness and queerness, one that touches on deep emotional highs and lows. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of drag, which not everyone is, it’s not really about that. It’s about a young man finding a way of expressing himself, of becoming comfortable with who he is in a world filled with toxic masculinity. A genuine celebration of getting to be yourself openly and proudly.