Books to read this LGBT+ History Month and beyond

This 10 book reading list reflects the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community

LGBT+ History Month is celebrated in the UK every February. It is a time to reflect and amplify the rather hidden history of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in the UK and globally.

LGBT+ History Month 2022

2022 is a seminal year for the LGBTQ+ community in the UK, as it marks fifty years since the first Pride in London in 1972, when thousands marched together to support gay rights.

While LGBT+ History month is about commemorating the community’s place in history and its civil rights achievements, it should also be a time to look to the future, including what still needs to be done to achieve full equity in society, something that should be championed all year round.

Building knowledge and awareness about LGBTQ+ issues and the diversity of experiences in the community is one way to become a better ally. Below, DiversityQ has collated a list of fiction and non-fiction books about LGBTQ+ life, from Black transgender history to the AIDS crisis and non-binary theory.

1. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Exploring themes of religion, relationships and community, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is a coming of age story about a young lesbian who leaves her English Pentecostal life for the woman she loves.

2. The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst

The Swimming-Pool Library is an engrossing novel that gives the reader an insight into gay life in late twentieth-century London. The book also explores the intersection of queerness and age as well as race and issues of fetishisation.

3. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple is considered an important contribution to LGBTQ+ literature for many reasons, one of them being it explores queerness in the context of Black women’s lives along with the uncomfortable yet important themes of racism, sexual abuse, and violence against women.

4. How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS by David France

This moving book tracks the history of the AIDS crisis and the work of activists from various backgrounds who helped push forward scientific research that took the disease from a death sentence to something that millions now live with today. This work also explores the politics of medicine and big pharma.

5. The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister: Vol. 1: I Know My Own Heart by Anne Lister

This book is a vital addition to the canon of lesbian history; it is a collection of diary entries from British landowner Anne Lister who lived in Yorkshire in the nineteenth century. Anne lived a life well beyond the conventions of her time with interests in business and conducted many private relationships with women.

6. Transgender History (Second Edition): The Roots of Today’s Revolution by Susan Stryker

This non-fiction book by professor Susan Stryker is a perfect addition to the reading list of anyone looking for a foundational summary of transgender history in the US from the middle of the 19th century to the 2000s.

7. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by C. Riley Snorton

This work by highly regarded trans-academic C. Riley Snorton is an important intervention for detailing the Black trans experience in LGBTQ+ history, which is still an emerging topic and requires more attention.

8. Life Isn’t Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between by Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker

Using bisexual and non-binary gender experiences as the focal point, this book challenges how we employ binary thinking regarding our relationships, bodies, emotions, wellbeing and sense of identity. Instead, the authors offer practices that help us think in more non-binary ways about how we live.

9. Sista!: An anthology of writings by same gender loving women of African/Caribbean descent with a UK connection by Phyll Opoku-Gyimah

This book, by Phyllis Akua Opoku-Gyimah, a British political activist and co-founder of UK Black Pride, includes 31 contributors who have penned memoirs, poems and more covering queer relationships between women of African and Caribbean descent in a UK context.

10. The Pink Line: The World’s Queer Frontiers by Mark Gevisser

Taking a global approach, the author meets protagonists from across the world, from locations where LGBTQ+ rights are blossoming to others where discrimination and violence have strengthened. This book is a must-read for those seeking to further understand LGBTQ+ rights as a global human rights issue.

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