With the rise of the hashtag #ownvoices, we finally have a platform in which we can showcase, promote and support books written about minorities for minorities. It means books with POC characters written by POC authors have been championed and placed solidly on numerous bestseller lists. The same can be said for so many other minorities; I’ve had the privilege of reading stories on mental illness written by authors who have said mental illness, stories with Muslim characters written by Muslims, and so on.
Including LGBTQ+ characters in a story is not a new concept. Whether their sexuality is suggestive or explicit, a centred story line or just a fact about them, it’s not uncommon to come across a book and be pleasantly surprised that the world you’re reading about doesn’t only have straight people in.
To celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month, I wanted to list and recommend some YA books that, while include a LGBTQ+ story line or characters, are also #ownvoices. Written by LGBTQ+ folk for LGBTQ+ folk (and everyone else) to enjoy!
Disclaimer: I have only included authors who are public and open about their sexuality/gender identity. Sexuality is a private matter for many people who identify as anything but straight, and I don’t want this post to create rumour, speculation, or straight up be an invasion of privacy. If you are one of the authors mentioned in this post and do not wish to be included, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through any of my social medias and I’ll take your name down!
I could write many love letters to Adam Silvera’s books. All of them are centred on an LGBTQ+ character of Latin American descent, and they’re always so damn sad but damn beautiful at the same time. They’re all standalones, all with their own brand of love and sadness, but here I’ve ranked them in the order I cried:
History is All You Left Me (My tears created a river)
They Both Die at the End (My tears removed all my makeup)
More Happy Than Not (My tears blurred my vision)
Ahhhh, there she is. My fave. The one who knows how to simultaneously ruin my life and also make it better. V.E. Schwab has long been advocate for LGBTQ+ books and is not a stranger to including queer characters into her own work. Of course, queer authors are not obligated to write queer characters, and so I’ve only included the Shades of Magic trilogy which includes A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, and A Conjuring of Light.
I’ve recently got into reading Robin Talley’s older novels and I love the authentic voice each book has. She’s fantastic at telling stories about queer girls whether it’s in a haunted boarding school or during segregation in the fifties. I can’t wait to read more of her novels, but the ones I have read are Lies We Tell Ourselves and As I Descended.
I think Patrick Ness is considered one of the most prolific YA writers of our generation. His novel, A Monster Calls, was made into a worldwide hit movie, and his sci-fi dystopian trilogy, Chaos Walking, is currently being filmed and will be starring Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland as main characters. But we’re here to celebrate Ness’ beautiful and powerful novels with some fantastic LGBTQ+ characters! Books I’ve read include Release, The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, and More Than This.
David Levithan is a staple in the LGBT YA community with so many books on LGBTQ+ issues, queer characters and story lines, I’m thinking he must be a really fast typer! I haven’t exactly read a lot of David Levithan’s books, although I feel like I have because he’s also collaborated with so many authors that at this point he’s literally everywhere. Chances are, you’ve read a book by David Levithan. Books include Two Boys Kissing, Boy Meets Boy, and Everyday.
I’ve only read a couple of Nina LaCour’s short stories, but every single one I’ve loved. She writes compelling stories about young queer girls navigating their lives through loss, heartbreak, family, and acceptance. Some of her books include Everything Leads To You and We Are Okay.
There are also so many LGBTQ+ #ownvoices novels out there for you to enjoy, support and promote with authors just starting out or have been playing the publishing game for years. Whether or not they’ve only released the one book or ten, they all deserve a recommendation, and so I’ve created a small collage of some that have been recommended to me as well as some that I’ve seen roaming around Book Twitter and Instagram.
Dahlia Adler is also doing fantastic work with LGBTQ Reads, a review blog and directory for all your LGBTQ+ rep needs!
Of course, this is not the be all end all of LGBTQ+ own voices. If there are any books you would like to share that you think would fit the bill, let me know in the comments!
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