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LGBTQ authors on LGBTQ authors: 22 trailblazing queer texts to read this Pride season

In partnership with Audible

By Attitude Staff

Juliet Jacques, Gayathiri Kamalakanthan and Huw Lemmey are among the LGBTQ authors to have picked texts for Audible's campaign (Images: Robin Silas Christian/Michael Boffey)
Writers Juliet Jacques, Gayathiri Kamalakanthan and Huw Lemmey are among the LGBTQ authors to have picked texts for Audible's new literary collaboration (Images: Robin Silas Christian/Michael Boffey/supplied)

Audible, the digital audiobook company, and Out on the Page, the LGBTQ+ literary activist project, are collaborating to celebrate queer joy and visibility this Pride month. Together, they’ve compiled a collection of some of the best historic and modern LGBTQIA+ storytelling – from novels and memoirs to poems, audiobooks, and graphic novels. 

To inform and bring to life the collection, the collaboration will platform some of the most exciting and respected names in the world of LGBTQIA+ storytelling. These include poet Adam Lowe, novelists Mendez and Elizabeth Chakrabarty, plus the playwright Jonathan Harvey.

They will have nominated works by other queer writers, to form a long list to sit on Audible and Out of the Page’s websites throughout Pride season and beyond.

Here, Attitude looks at 22 of the works nominated. To read the list in full, click here.

1 Reader, I Married Him & Other Queer Goings On by Dorothea Smartt

Nominated by Adam Lowe, author of Patterflash

“In this poignant and passionate collection of poems, Dorothea Smartt sets aside Caribbean ideas of respectability to unleash the sensual realities of queer love and desire in the region. Smartt’s lyricism is undeniable, and the stories she tells are more relevant today than ever.”

2 Icebreaker by A L Graziadei

Nominated by Alex Bertie, author of More Me With You

“Who couldn’t love a secret gay romance between two college ice hockey rivals? Between diverse characters, LGBTQ+ people in sport, tough parental relationships and following your dreams… this book has so much powerful stuff going on! I found every aspect of Mickey’s struggle with anxiety and depression super relatable in particular, so it’s a special one for me.”

3 Oppenheim’s Cup and Saucer by Carol Ann Duffy

Nominated by Charlotte Mendelson, author of The Exhibitionist

“Carol Ann Duffy’s work, particularly Oppenheim’s Cup and Saucer and Girlfriends but also most of the rest of Standing Female Nude and The Other Country, and then Rapture, is beautiful, filthy and evocative. She writes about longing and sex so brilliantly, leaving just enough space between the lines for one’s own imagination.”

4 The Gender Games by Juno Dawson

Nominated by Damian Barr, author of Maggie & Me

“Juno is a YA superstar and has recently broken records with Her Majesty’s Coven. But the book that made me fall in love with her as a writer is her heart-warming and hilarious memoir/manifesto: The Gender Games. Dawson lays bare our culture’s obsessions with dividing out world and our selves into rigid categories of masculinity and femininity. She shares her own experiences of growing up in Bingley in West Yorkshire, attending university in Bangor, Wales and eventually becoming a primary school teacher then bestselling YA novelist all before she began the process of transitioning. The book begins in 2016 where, at the age of 30, Juno comes out to her mother as trans and her mother says “Well I can’t say I’m surprised”. Encompassing Dawson’s Spice Girls obsession, her own musical adventures and her journey towards becoming herself, it’s a funny, smart memoir you don’t want to miss.”

5 Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration by David Wojnarowicz

Nominated by Dean Atta, author of The Black Flamingo

“I’d been familiar with the artwork of American artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz for many years before picking up his memoir last year. Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration by David Wojnarowicz was first published in 1991, the year before Wojnarowicz died of AIDS. His anger about the AIDS crisis, his dying friends and community members and his imminent death are all felt with great urgency in this rallying cry of a book. It’s also full of life, love and humour. I was enthralled by the tape recordings – including conversations with friends and community members – that punctuate the essays and help the reader feel closer to everyone involved.”

6 The Colour Purple by Alice Walker

Nominated by Fat Tony, author of I Don’t Take Requests 

“One of my all-time favourites, The Color Purple makes it to the top of this list. Not only is it a painfully beautiful read, a depiction of the struggles of black women in the early 20th century, but also one of love and the nuances of sexuality. A masterpiece.”

7 Losing Face by George Haddad

Nominated by Elias Jahshan, author of Coming Out Palestinian

“A fairly recent release but one where I felt so seen. The story evolves around a young Lebanese-Australian man in the working class suburbs of western Sydney (where I am from) coming to terms with his sexuality while also being dragged into a criminal court case – and the fallout the latter has on his family dynamics. While I can’t relate to the court case aspect of this, everything else about this novel seemed like it was written for me: the Lebanese cultural references; the Aussie-Arab dialect and vernacular; the experience of being queer in an area entrenched in toxic masculinity; and the maternal figures. This book can also be seen as exceptional commentary on the police force.”

8 The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Nominated by Elizabeth Chakrabarty, author of Lessons in Love and Other Crimes

The Night Watch, published in 2006, is my favourite Sarah Waters novel, and one I’ve returned to as a writer for its storytelling and craft. This historical novel, set during and after the Second World War, has a melancholic tone, reflected in the moving back in time of the narrative arc, through the extraordinary, everyday and split second decisions of queer lovers and friends living and loving despite the war, and what’s left for them to pick up in its aftermath.”

9 Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Nominated by Gayathiri Kamalakanthan, poet and faciliator 

“This speculative YA novel was the first story I read where a trans child’s identity was incidental to the plot. This shouldn’t be radical, but it is. Reading about transness in this most ordinary way was so validating.”

10 100 Boyfriends by Brontez Purnell

Nominated by Huw Lemmey, author of Bad Gays: A Homosexual History and Unknown Language

“Reading Brontez Purnell is just a kick. 100 Boyfriends is about what queer desire as it really is: messy. Rattling through love, hook-ups, work, partying, the story spins recklessly through gay life, knocking over everything precious that it touches on the way. For me, these books represent what is best in queer literature: stories that reflect our lives as they are lived. Rather than neat, idealised, sanitised appeals to a heterosexual society, they are for us, sharing rich testimonies of queer life in all its weird and exciting glories.”

11 The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Nominated by Jonathan Harvey, author of The Girl Who Just Appeared

“A historical sweep of a novel about prejudice and intolerance in Ireland over a period of seventy years. Following the life of Cyril Avery, struggling to find his place in the world, this book really made me laugh. And cry. The use of language is beautiful and the characters are glorious. It’s read brilliantly on Audible by Stephen Hogan. For anyone interested in gay history this is a must.”

12 LOTE by Shola von Reinhold

Nominated by Juliet Jacques, author of Trans: A Memoir

“Archives are so important for LGBTQ+ authors, as we try to correct the historic erasure of our communities: they allow us to find antecedents and, whenever we can’t prove their existences, they give us the tools to imagine what queer lives might have looked like in the past. Shola von Reinhold’s LOTE revolves around a queer, Black, working-class protagonist looking at the life and work of a long-forgotten, inter-war Black poet, asking searching questions about how and why certain artists, and certain people, were and continued to be marginalised. The novel is a sharp critique of white-centric art movements, written with admirable lightness and humour.”

13 Just by Looking at Him by Ryan O’Connell

Nominated by Justin Myers, author of The Last Romeo 

“Ryan O’Connell is an exciting voice in queer fiction and I devoured his 2022 debut. Thoroughly modern, and totally individual, Just By Looking at Him is an examination of intersectionality, sex, disability, and queer culture through the lens of a character who’s not always easy to love. A refreshing read, thrumming with personality and energy that left me a) breathless and b) very excited about the future of queer literature. An unmissable read for anyone looking for important commentary on the way we live now, presented with biting, well-observed comedy.”

14 Our Caribbean: a gathering of lesbian and gay writing from the Antilles by Thomas Glave

Nominated by Keith Jarrett, author of poetry collection Selah

“This anthology is quietly ground-breaking, gathering poetry, prose and non-fiction from across the diverse lands of the Caribbean, some of it in translation. These are works that rarely get to sit beside each other, with many rarely even acknowledged as queer writing, and some rarely acknowledged as Caribbean. It’s a great introduction to Audre Lorde’s Zami, to Cuba’s Reinaldo Arenas, to Jamaica’s Michelle Cliff, and to several lesser-known writers besides. If, like me, you have wandering tastebuds and can’t always settle on one thing, there’s plenty to enjoy – and to learn.”

15 Sterling Karat Gold by Isabel Waidner

Nominated by Lauren John Joseph, author of At Certain Points We Touch

“Queer experimental fiction with a socialist twist, Franz Kafka and Brigid Brophy cast long shadows but Sterling Karat Gold is unmistakably now. Giggling with paranoia, panic rings through each page of this sci-fi shaded f*ck you to Austerity which is also (perhaps surprisingly) full of endless fashion inspiration.”

16 Boy Like Me by Simon James Green

Nominated by Lisa Wiliamson, author of The Art of Being Normal

“A poignant, powerful and at times very funny coming-of-age/coming-out story. Set in the mid 90s against the backdrop of Section 28, it is a potent reminder of how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, a time when it was rare to come across an LGBTQ+ character in a book. Both the titles I’ve picked put young LGBTQ+ people (in this case, a gay teen and a non binary child) at the forefront of the action and explore their respective worlds in a way that feels authentic and sensitive as well as being warm, funny and entertaining.”

17 None of the Above by Travis Alabanza

Nominated by Liv Little, author of Rosewater

“Travis is the most delicious storyteller. This book is a memoir that reads like philosophy rooted in their lived experience. Travis asks poignant questions about how knowledge is created, shared, and perpetuated in a way that is both imaginative and exploratory. This book will make you laugh, cry, and leave you totally inspired!”

18 Go the Way Your Blood Beats by Michael Amherst

Nominated by Luke Turner, author of Out of the Woods

“Part of my motivation for writing my first book, Out of the Woods, was the feeling that good writing about what it was like to live and love and feel as a bisexual man were as thin on the ground as they had been throughout my teenage years during the 1990s, where straight and gay people alike hit people like me with the same old prejudices – that bisexual men were greedy, or cowards on the way to admitting they were actually gay. Reading Go The Way Your Blood Beats, named after a quote by James Baldwin, was like encountering a much-needed friend and guide. Amherst, a sensitive writer, combines polemic and memoir with addresses to past lovers of unspecified genders and holds up fluid sexuality as a norm, rather than a state of indecision or chaos.”

19 Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jędrowsk

Nominated by Mary Jean Chan, author of Flèche

“I found this to be a deeply moving and tender novel centered on a powerful romance between two young men in 1980s Poland whose incompatible political and social values drive an irreconcilable rift between them. Jędrowski’s use of language is poetic and sensual, which makes this a truly immersive read.”

20 A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers

Nominated by Meg-John Barker, author of The Psychology of Sex

“Becky Chambers is my favourite novelist. Her sci-fi books are filled with tender characters doing their best to relate across differences. A Psalm for the Wild Built is the first in her Monk and Robot series, which features a non-binary lead character as well as imagining beautifully queer, sustainable forms of loving, living, and community building. Becky’s stories are just the kind of gentle, warm, hopeful read so many of us need right now.”

21 Trans: A Memoir by Juliet Jacques

Nominated by Shivani Dave, author of The Log Books

“Jaques takes the reader on a journey through her life, in a way these experiences are specific to her, but the themes she explores are somewhat reminiscent of wider LGBTQ+ experiences. This book was important for me to read when I did. As trans people are being persecuted in the media in the UK, Jaques reminds the reader that trans people have been persevering for decades and shares the joy of finding community.”

22 Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin

Nominated by Mendez, author of Rainbow Milk

“This is the first Baldwin novel I read, when I was 20, and it seeped deep into my subconscious. I reread it shortly after Rainbow Milk was published and was startled by the parallels between the two: I became embourgeoised by my associations with mostly white liberal creatives; I acted on stage; I worked in restaurants; I lived a bisexual life for a few years. There is even a scene in Train where Leo, its protagonist, juggles requests from his customers, echoed in Rainbow Milk. For me, this is Baldwin’s most underrated novel and one of his queerest – rather than simply give us a sex scene between two Black men in love, he gives us a sex scene between two Black brothers in love. He is constantly questioning the boundaries between bodies.”