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Loud and Proud: 21 LGBTQ+ Books for Pride Month

Our list of new and notable literature about queer life and culture includes novels, memoirs and a history of Toronto's landmark Pride Parade / BY Nathalie Atkinson / June 8th, 2023


Our Pride Month reading list of new and notable fiction and non-fiction is populated by engaging novels of race, class and intergenerational clashes; memoirs of birding, religion and transmasculine identity; and pop culture fodder like the legacy of queer culture in sitcoms, mythology and cinema. There are also histories about gay Broadway, cruising and Toronto’s landmark Pride parade.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image.

1And Then He Sang a Lullaby by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu

Writer and social commentator Roxane Gay launches her eponymous new imprint at Grove Atlantic with this novel about the love between two men in Nigeria amid the country’s culture of shame, secrecy and modern repression, written by award-winning Nigerian writer and queer liberation activist Somtochukwu.


2Leg by Greg Marshall

A self-portrait of discovery both as a gay man and through a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, Leg is full of hilarious and heartfelt storytelling about family and forgiveness. Austin-based writer Marshall’s strange and deeply poignant comedic memoir style has been likened to David Sedaris. (June 13)


3I Felt the End Before It Came by Daniel Allen Cox

A memoir-in-essays, the queer Canadian ex-Jehovah’s Witness and author of four novels about gay life (including Shuck and Krakow Melt) reckons with the legacy of indoctrination and the role language played in it. The former believer probes his complicated past — growing up preaching door to door in Montreal and coming of age in New York — with vulnerability and humour.


4The Late Americansby Brandon Taylor

In this stunner, the Booker Prize finalist (for Real Life) reimagines the classic weekend getaway scenario (think The Big Chill) about friendship and adult ambition through a group of gay 20-somethings at a crossroads in their lives. The group puts everything on the table: reproductive rights, class, race and life in general — via chapters told from different points of view.


5Gays on Broadway by Ethan Mordden

From turn of the century female impersonators to La Cage Aux Folles to the hit adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home, this engaging cultural history of Broadway by the prolific theatre historian surveys the (often closeted) gay performers and productions who contributed to American theatre on and offstage.


6Better Living Through Birdingby Christian Cooper

Remember the notorious 2020 video of a white ‘Karen’ harassing a Black birdwatcher in New York’s Central Park, telling 911 she was being threatened? That birdwatcher was Cooper, a noted science writer (and former editor at Marvel Comics), whose memoir speaks to lessons learned from nature, inclusion and his adventures being a queer Black birdwatcher on expeditions around the world. Cooper is also now the host of National Geographic’s documentary series Extraordinary Birder. (June 13)


7Pageboy by Elliot Page

n an intimate memoir, the Oscar-nominated Canadian star (who became world-famous for his performance in Juno) shares the story of discovering his true self as a queer and trans person and then stepping out of his own internalized repression while at the height of fame, all while fielding both criticism and abuse from some of Hollywood’s most powerful players.


8Dreaming Home by Lucian Childs

Publishing his first novel at 74, this coming-of-age debut by American-born, Toronto-based Childs (an acclaimed short story writer) spans four decades and takes place across Florida, Texas and AIDS-era San Francisco as it explores the legacy of trauma in a Texas family. The six linked sections are each told from a separate point of view.


9Hi Honey, I’m Homo! by Matt Baume

The well-known pop-culture history YouTuber unearths what happened on screen (and behind the scenes) of TV’s most popular sitcoms and how they shaped public perceptions by introducing LGBTQ+ characters and plots. He begins with the secretive life of both the characters and cast from Bewitched, before moving on to chart cycles progress and backlash through sitcoms like All in the Family, Barney Miller, Cheers, The Golden Girls, Will & Grace and Modern Family.


10Dykette by Jenny Fran Davis

A wry, unputdownable novel about being completely exposed online but socially isolated in contemporary queer life. Set in the near past of the 2019 Christmas holidays, a 10-day getaway with three queer couples from different generations (and of varying financial means) exposes clashing views on sexuality, gender and leads to insights and a lot of satire.


11Joy. Sorrow. Anger. Love. Pride.

This book accompanies the exhibition project celebrating Toronto Pride from 1970 to the present day. Produced in collaboration with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and the Magenta Foundation, what has become one of the largest gatherings of the community and their allies in the world is showcased in photographs, posters, writing and ephemera selected from The ArQuives, Canada’s largest independent LGBTQ2+ archive with a national scope.


12Open Throat by Henry Hoke

“I’ve never eaten a person, but today I might …” So begins this slim and wildly imaginative novel narrated by a hungry and forlorn queer mountain lion (yes really). Living beneath the Hollywood sign, the creature is the area’s protector, guarding homeless encampments and who — following a tragedy — leads the reader on a spellbinding lyrical tour of displacement and inequality. The Brooklyn-based author and director of literary journal Enter>text was inspired by P-22, the locally famous puma who lived in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park and became a viral sensation when he died last December.


13Park Cruising by Marcus McCann

During his time as a managing editor at Xtra, McCann covered the 2016 police sting operation that targeted gay and bisexual men having sex in Toronto’s Marie Curtis Park. Taking that as his starting point, McCann — now a human rights lawyer — uses the wider phenomenon of cruising as a lens to discuss legal, literary and social ideas around the taboo of sex in public.


14Mrs. S by K. Patrick

Publishers Weekly calls this Glasgow writer’s buzzy debut about “a woman obscure to the world but radiant inside” revelatory. The erotically charged literary fiction about the transformative power of desire follows the secret cross-class love affair between the matron of an English boarding school (whose interior monologue narrates the story) and the headmaster’s coolly elegant wife. (June 20)


15Queer Heroes of Myth and Legend by Dan Jones

Those who enjoy a romp through centuries of classical literature, myth, history and pop culture will appreciate this witty and erudite cast of ancient and modern gay characters from Achilles and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Doctor Who and Xena. It’s worth listening to the entertaining audiobook to hear the bestselling British historian and award-winning broadcaster bring them all to life himself.


16The Male Gazed by Manuel Betancourt

Using characters from Beauty and the Beast and My Best Friend’s Wedding, as well as assorted drag queens, and mega stars like Ricky Martin and Antonio Banderas, the Los Angeles-based culture critic examines pop culture ideas around masculinity that shaped his identity as a gay man coming of age in Bogota, Colombia.


17Glassworks by Olivia Wolfgang-Smith

Boston socialite Agnes Carter makes a poor marriage choice in 1910 that jeopardizes her autonomy and financial independence. With richly descriptive prose and the central metaphor of glass, the family saga is a beautiful examination of queer identity and the way art and ancestry can be entwined as it follows the fallout of Agnes’s decision through three generations of descendants.


18On Christopher Street by Michael Denneny

New York publishing icon Denneny, a founder of influential gay magazine Christopher Street and groundbreaking editor of LGBTQ+ books (including And the Band Played On, one of the most significant chronicles of the AIDS epidemic) died this spring at the age of 80. He leaves behind a final book: a cultural autobiography that traces the evolution of America’s queer community after the Stonewall riots of 1969.


19The Queer Film Guide by Kyle Turner

The Brooklyn-based critic, who often writes on queerness and cinema, organizes his 100 entries in this idiosyncratic compendium chronologically, beginning with Weimar-era Different from the Others (which elicited protests in 1919 for its frank depiction of homosexuality) and Marlene Dietrich in Morocco to the work of Black gay filmmaker Marlon Riggs, recent comedy of manners Fire Island and deep cuts like the 2001 documentary Southern Comfort about an older trans man living with ovarian cancer. 


20365 Gays of the Year by Lewis Laney

This accessible and colourfully illustrated tome honours queer history every day of the year. British writer Laney introduces readers to the likes of novelist E.M. Forster, pioneering drag queen Marsha P. Johnson and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury; even Canada’s own Schitt’s Creek co-creator Dan Levy gets an entry.


21A Place for Us by Brandon J. Wolf

Civil rights and LGBTQ+ advocate Wolf, 34, a survivor of the hate-motivated 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people and leader of the movement to end gun violence in America, shares his journey of growing up Black and queer in rural Oregon and the events that galvanized him into action. (July 1)


THE SCROLL

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