Marginalised communities are often sidelined and relegated to the background so it’s always wonderful when there are books that not only feature queer characters prominently but ones that tell stories that are not simply rooted in a plotline where the focus point of the story is that they’re gay, coming out, transgender or asexual.
Stories like that of course are incredibly important – and they’re ones that should continue to be told.
However, much like we don’t want a singular narrative when it comes to portraying stories about Africa and people of colour, so too do we want to enjoy and celebrate stories that are quirky, funny, thought-provoking or heartwarming that show everyone simply navigating life.
Cause that's what we're all doing.
Here are some books on our list we think you should try:
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
We recently had the opportunity to read and review Danforth’s bestselling novel about a girl whose coming of age story is fraught with dealing with suppressed desires, as she discovers her sexuality and grapples with what it means to be gay in a community that’s ultra conservative and homophobic to boot.
It also takes a devastating look at the impact of gay conversion therapy camps – our protagonist Cameron is sent to a place called Promise by her super religious aunt following the death of her parents – and explores the devastating and harmful impact places like these have on the identity and self-esteem of gay kids.
It's a tumultuous love story that’s not only one of awakening but a coming-of-age novel for everyone who has ever struggled with their sexual orientation and identity.
Read our full review
Ash by Malinda Lo
A lesbian Cinderella retelling for those who love fairytales and fantasy.
For centuries, watered down versions of fairy tales have often presented stories that are moulded to fit a heteronormative society.
While Malinda Lo has written a good number of novels following Ash (including Huntress, a companion novel and her latest A Line in the Dark), this fairytale retelling holds a special place in our hearts because it was one of the first books within a fantasy setting that focuses on creating a lush world that shows girl-on-girl love can and does exist everywhere.
Buy a copy of the book here
READ MORE: Love stories for people who don’t like romance
Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction edited by Karen Martin (with contributors from in and around Africa)
This collection of short stories are told from various authors across Africa and captures the struggles, joy and love of being unabashedly queer in a continent where being gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual is still outlawed in large part of Africa.
It’s a collection that’s described thusly as “unafraid stories of intimacy, sweat, betrayal and restless confidences, we accompany characters into cafes, tattoo salons, the barest of bedrooms, the coldly glinting spaces into which the rich withdraw, unlit streets, and their own deepest interiors.”
There’s a lot to be learnt here and it’s wonderful that books exist for queer folk in Africa who are still feeling disenfranchised, discriminated against and who need to know that these stories are there to give them a voice when they feel like they don’t have any.
Purchase a copy from takealot.com
Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi
Japanese Southern-American author Jacqueline Koyanagi is known for writing queer characters of colour who battle with having disabilities.
In Ascension, we meet sky surgeon Alana Quick who is battling a chronic illness but knows her way around starship engines and who falls in love with a woman in space.
It’s the lesbian space opera sci-fi novel you never knew you needed and it tackles difficult family relationships, poverty and the challenges of love while trying to save the world. It’s strongly women-centric and celebrates lesbian love, friendship and familial love.
Buy a copy from Amazon.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
Puerto Rican protagonist, Juliet Palante has just come out to her family who - surprise, surprise – have not taken the news well.
In an effort to carve her own future in the world, she packs up, heads on out to Portland and ends up interning with one of her favourite authors to figure out how to navigate being both Puerto Rican and lesbian in an effort to figure out just where she fits in.
It’s a coming of age tale that's fiercely queer and unapologetically feminist. And it’s one that not only celebrates the queer community but also one that specifically places the emphasis on of that celebration on queer POC.
Buy a copy now
WATCH: LGBTQIA books you need
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