The LGBT Health & Development Program

Youth Blog – Queer Summer Reading

Posted on July 8th, 2016 by IMPACT in Featured, Youth Blog. No Comments

room with wall to wall books in rainbow of colors

Image credit: John Nakamura Remy, “Rainbow of Books,” September 26, 2009

Written by Kitty, IMPACT intern.

Now that summer is here, it is a good time to visit your local library and find some new books to read in the sun or the shade! However, young adult novels do not always represent the youth for which they are written, and queer characters, especially queer characters of color, often seem left out. It can be discouraging to read books and not see any characters that look and love like you, but there are some great queer young adult (YA) novels out there if you know where to look. Here are some of my favorites:

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCoeur tells the story of Emi Price, a queer mixed race set design intern who loves movies, but might have unrealistic expectations about love.  This story is set in LA and confronts the economic divide between the city’s richest and poorest residents. It’s fun, romantic, and airy, and a great read for those who enjoy drama without the heartache.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz follows two young Mexican boys as they grow up. While Dante is confident and open about being gay, Ari is not so sure.  This is a great story about parental acceptance and is ultimately a celebration of queerness and a very sweet, slow-burn love story.

Proxy and Guardian by Alex London are two very exciting dystopian novels that critique income inequality and debt. Proxy deals with the revolution and Guardian explores the aftermath. The main character, Syd, is black and gay, and one of my favorite characters from any novel. (There is some potentially upsetting violence in the beginning, so let yourself skip over that if you need to.)

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan is great story about dealing with a new crush and trying to reconnect with childhood friends. The author wanted to write a fun “gay teen soap opera,” and she did just that! The main character, an Iranian-American lesbian named Leila, is very relatable and easy to love.

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan is a series of Marvel comics about the children of supervillains. Their parents may be the bad guys, but these teens want to be the good guys. This is a fun series with queer characters and characters of color, including a genderfluid dark-skinned alien named Xavin with the ability to shapeshift. If you feel like you can’t relate to the stereotypical adult, straight, cisgender male superheroes in the movies, this series is definitely for you.

While these are some great books (and more can be found on the lists below), there is a need for more diverse queer voices in literature. Representation and self-expression is important for our community and helps build empathy, understanding and pride. If you love writing as much as you love reading, maybe you could be a great queer writer and tell your own story to the world. We would love to hear it!

Additional Resources:

23 LGBTQ Books With A POC Protagonist

YA Books About LGBT Characters of Color

15 YA Books That Aren’t About Straight White People

Chicago Public Library

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