GO! Presents 100 Women We Love: Class of 2024

THE CULTURAL ROADMAP FOR CITY GIRLS EVERYWHERE

Queer Books By BIPOC Authors You Need To Read

June 14, 2024

If your “To Be Read” (TBR) shelf is looking a little empty, look no further.

Whether you’re a long-time reading fanatic or haven’t picked up a book in years, you’ve likely seen the hype from #BookTok flooding your Instagram and TikTok feeds. While reading may be the hot new hobby, finding a great book with queer representation can be a more daunting task than picking up the book itself. Sometimes deciding on what book to read can leave people with decision fatigue from the sheer amount of books that are out there. 

Many popular books on social media, no matter the genre, feature straight, white characters or couples. As a Black lesbian who will watch multiple seasons of a television show solely to support the arc of a queer couple (who may only kiss once), I seek out books with queer main characters constantly. Representation in the media we consume helps us relate to people of different backgrounds or brings a sense of comfort when we see our own queer experiences mirrored in a character. 

In recent years, queer literature has become increasingly inaccessible to young people. Book bans and censorship laws have taken over much of the United States. According to the American Library Association, several of the most challenged book titles contain LGBTQ+ themes or are written by authors of color. Accessing these books proves to libraries, bookstores, and schools that there is a demand for queer literature across the nation.

If your “To Be Read” (TBR) shelf is looking a little empty, you long to see yourself reflected in a main character, or want to support an author of a different identity than your own, here are a few books by queer authors of color for you to check out!

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar 

Amal El-Mohtar (she/her/hers) is a bisexual Canadian-Lebanese author and New York Times columnist. Her 2019 novella, This Is How You Lose The Time War, co-written with Max Gladstone, tells the poetic love story between Red and Blue, two rival agents across different universes trying to save each other as they travel through time, communicating in their war-torn world. This novel is made up of letters and prose between the two characters and clocks in at under 230 pages. In a blog piece for The Guardian, El-Mohtar highlighted the need for sapphic representation in books of all genres, emphasizing that it is more than representation – it is acknowledging history. “To be a queer woman of colour is to be acutely aware that your existence is political – and that you don’t need a time machine to rewrite history.”

Bellies by Nicola Dinan

Bellies is the debut novel of Nicola Dinan (she/her/hers), a trans woman whose Chinese-Malaysian background inspires the story of Ming, a young woman navigating her coming out as trans and the changes in relationships and life that follow. Ming is also mixed-race and has been in a long term relationship with Tom, who is recently out as a gay man. As they go through their final year of college and move into young adulthood, they come into themselves while falling for each other and discover what their queer identities mean to them. Bellies shows us an ever-growing long term queer love in London and how queer mixed race people navigate identity politics. 

 In The Dream House by Carmen Maria-Machado

Latina writer (and one of GO’s 2024 Women We Love!) Carmen Maria-Machado’s (she/her/hers) memoir won the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction and is one of my personal favorite books of all time. In The Dream House chronicles the author’s abusive relationship with her ex-girlfriend, who is referred to only as “the woman in the dream house” throughout the novel. Told in a series of vignettes and prose, Maria-Machado opens up to the reader about the domestic violence she suffered while in graduate school and the journey to escape the dream house made of nightmares she faces daily. Maria-Machado has been praised for speaking up about how abuse can occur in queer relationships, a topic that tends to be skirted around in literature. 

This Could All Be Different by Sarah Thankim Mathews

Sarah Thankim Mathews’ (any pronouns) debut novel, This Could All Be Different, is their love letter to queer immigrant children. Mathews was born in India and identifies as queer like our main character Sneha, a first generation Indian immigrant who has recently moved to Milwauklee post-grad for their first full time corporate job. This Could All Be Different reflects Mathews’ experience as a South Asian immigrant and showcases the queer desi community during the Great Recession, culminating into a realistic portrayal of tackling one’s relationship with identity, race, corporate America, and queer dating for the first time as a young adult. Mathews wrote TCABD in just four months during the pandemic while unemployed in Brooklyn and appreciates the publishing industry for giving a voice to a character so multifaceted.

Rosewater by Liv Little

Black, queer photographer and author Liv Little (she/her/hers) gives us the messy, sapphic coming of age novel that we all can find funny – and a little too relatable at times – in Rosewater. At 28 years old, Elsie lives in the south of London and is barely making ends meet when she’s kicked out of her government housing apartment. Juggling casual hookups with her coworker, crumbling finances, and trying to make it as a poet, she leans on her best friend Juliet for help. Little, who is Guyanese and Jamaican, highlights the intergenerational households and underrepresented Black British experience in her book. While our main character Elsie may struggle in external facets of life, the love and support from her community is what keeps her going.“I wanted to touch on the many different forms love can take and how it can shape your worldview and challenge you as a person and also help you grow,” Little told Shondaland. With poems by trans-visibility activist Kai-Isaiah Jamal featured, Rosewater is a realistic sapphic love story to mend your heart.

As we search for media that represents our community, it is important to diversify our reading in order to actively learn and gain a more developed sense of all queer identities. These recommendations are not just about finding a good book, but supporting and celebrating a variety of voices that come from our community. Supporting LGBTQ owned book resources, amplifying BIPOC voices, and consuming diverse media enriches our lives and adds to inclusivity within our community.

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