An anthology on trans love, a novel on gender fluidity, photographs from Stonewall, and the diary of a drag queen – add these to your reading list
2018 was a challenging year for the LGBTQ+ community in the UK. From newspapers running full page-ads blasting trans rights reforms, to the spike in LGBTQ+ hate crime, the community has continued to come under attack. Thankfully, the literary world has championed the voices the transphobic and homophobic British right-wing press and politicians have attempted to erase. In 2019, a number of new books will reflect the richness, diversity and breadth of this community.
The upcoming tomes include the first anthology of its kind exploring how trans and non-binary people navigate love and relationships, to a mixed race gay teen finding comfort in drag, and a lesbian Muslim protagonist in a YA novel.
Here’s a round-up of our favourites that deserve a place on your bookshelves. Each are compulsory reading, for LGBTQ History Month and beyond.
THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI, SABINA KHAN (SCHOLASTIC PRESS, JANUARY)
After Bangladeshi American Muslim lesbian teen Rukhsana is caught kissing her girlfriend Ariana by her conservative mother, she’s whisked off to Bangladesh. That’s just the beginning of this YA novel from Sabina Khan, which she was partially inspired to write after her own daughter’s coming out. The coming-of-age protagonist is original enough – and that’s before the story even gets into themes as far-ranging as the challenges of straddling two worlds, intergenerational conflict in immigrant families, the intersection of Bengali culture and LGBTQ+ identity and familial duty.
Get your copy of The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali here.
IF THEY COME FOR US, FATIMAH ASGHAR (CORSAIR, FEBRUARY)
This powerful debut poetry collection from the co-creator of the Emmy-nominated web series Brown Girls captures the challenges of being a queer Pakistani Muslim woman in contemporary America. Touching on identity, sexuality, belonging and the legacy of Partition on the South Asian diaspora, Fatimah Asghar has won a slew of acclaim already – and for good reason.
Get your copy of If They Come For Us here.
DIARY OF A DRAG QUEEN, TOM RASMUSSEN (PENGUIN, FEBRUARY)
Charting the highs and lows of drag queen Crystal Rasmussen, the alter ego of Tom Rasmussen (full disclosure: they’re a Dazed regular), this is a riotous portrayal of the contemporary queer experience. Expect to hear everything about Crystal’s experiences, from getting hired and fired by a renowned by a fashion magazine, to her sexual exploits. If you’re as much of a huge fan of Rasmussen’s writing as we are, you’re in for a treat.
Get your copy of Diary of a Drag Queen here.
SAFE: ON BLACK BRITISH MEN RECLAIMING SPACE, DEREK OWUSU (TRAPEZE, MARCH)
This landmark anthology of essays exploring the black British male experience from Derek Owusu, co-host of literature podcast Mostly Lit, isn’t strictly an LGBTQ+ book. But in an impressive roster of contributors, journalist Musa Okwonga’s chapter “The Good Bisexual” is a long overdue – and delicate – insight into the challenges black bisexual men face, from queer puberty, the double burden of racism and homophobia, homophobic harassment in the workplace, and ultimately, self-acceptance. A refreshing insight, given that black, bi men’s experiences are routinely rendered invisible.
Get your copy of Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space here.
PROUD, JUNO DAWSON (STRIPES, MARCH)
Spanning stories and poetry on queer adolescence from 24 LGBTQ+ contributors responding to the theme of ‘pride’, this is a much-needed and moving YA anthology. PROUD not only reflects the breadth of the LGBTQ+ community’s diversity – there’s more than one PoC contributor – but this might also mark the first time teens see themselves reflected back. Curated by best-selling author Juno Dawson, expect the likes of a contemporary take on Pride & Prejudice and a Chinese lesbian fairytale, featuring an accompanying illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
There’s several LGBTQ+ anthologies out in 2019: We Were Always Here is a celebration of queer Scottish writing while LGBTQ POC, penned by LGBTQ+ PoC, exposes the lingering racism within the LGBTQ+ community.
Get your copy of PROUD here.
PAUL TAKES THE FORM OF A MORTAL GIRL, ANDREA LAWLOR (PICADOR, APRIL)
Genderqueer novelist and lecturer Andrea Lawlor’s debut has received critical acclaim in the US, and for good reason: 22-year-old Paul Polydoris, a bartender at the only gay club in Iowa City, can transform his body from male to female at will, shifting seamlessly from Paul to Polly in what represents powerful symbolism for the trans and non-binary experience. Paying homage to 90s queer culture while also exploring identity, intimacy, sex and gender and more, it’s not hard to see why Lawlor’s been heralded at the forefront of trans literature. This is an original addition to the trans fiction canon.
Get your copy of Get Paul Takes The Form of a Mortal Girl here.
QUEER INTENTIONS, AMELIA ABRAHAM (PICADOR, MAY)
When same-sex couples are increasingly granted the right to marry the world over, and Canadian currency commemorates LGBTQ+ equality, discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities (at least in the West) might seem on the decline – after all, opportunities are seemingly greater than ever before. But what does it really mean to be LGBTQ+ in the West? It’s this that journalist and Managing Editor of Dazed Beauty Amelia Abraham trawls this part of the world in search of. From a drag convention in LA, Pride parades in Europe, a trans model agency in New York to Turkey’s underground LGBTQ+ scene, Queer Intentions a landmark exploration into what it means to be queer today, what’s at stake – and ultimately who and what is being left behind.
Get your copy of Queer Intentions here.
PRIDE: PHOTOGRAPHS AFTER STONEWALL, FRED W. MCDARRAH (OR BOOKS, MAY)
In June 1969, the late photographer Fred W. McDarrah witnessed the historic Stonewall riots and took 19 photos. In the aftermath, McDarrah proceeded to photograph every Pride march from 1970, subsequently chronicling the movement’s rise over 25 years. Many of these photos appeared in the cult classic book Gay Pride: Photographs from Stonewall to Today. Though the book went out of print, it’s been resurrected in time for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and 2019 World Pride. Featuring several photos that weren’t in the original, and a new foreword by White Girls author Hilton Als, Pride is a much-needed chronicle of the rights the LGBTQ+ community have won and how far they’ve come.
Get your copy of Pride: Photographs After Stonewall here.
THIS BRUTAL HOUSE, NIVEN GOVINDEN (DIALOGUE BOOKS, JUNE)
This novel from award-winning author Niven Govinden centres on the silent protest of five ageing ‘Mothers’ – queer men who’ve opened their homes to countless lost children so they can discover their gender and sexuality in the safe spaces of ‘Houses’. Spanning themes including belonging, familial relationships beyond blood ties, and the indifference of the authorities to LGBTQ+ hate crime the world over, The Brutal House also acts a symbolic rallying cry for the need for LGBTQ+ teens to have safe spaces of their own.
Get your copy of The Brutal House here.
TRANS LOVE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF TRANSGENDER AND NON-BINARY VOICES, FREIYA BENSON (JESSICA KINGSLEY PUBLISHERS, AUGUST)
When trans identities in recent years have been attacked by hateful rhetoric, there’s no greater antidote than this ground-breaking anthology of essays on love from trans woman Freiya Benson. Penned by trans and non-binary people, contributors – including co-founder of Trans Pride Brighton, Sabah Choudrey – write about love in all its forms: familial, romantic, spiritual and self-love. Trans Love makes for poignant, page-turning reading not just because of the historic erasure of trans people’s perspectives from the public conversation, but also because it distances itself from tragedy that’s come to define the trans experience this decade.
Get your copy of Trans Love: An Anthology of Transgender and Non-Binary Voices here.
THE BLACK FLAMINGO, DEAN ATTA (HODDER CHILDREN’S BOOKS, AUGUST)
This is author and drag queen Dean Atta’s first foray into fiction after his award-nominated debut poetry collection I Am Nobody’s Nigger. Told in verse, this coming-of-age tale charts a mixed race gay teen who finds solace as a drag artist at uni. Dean draws on his life to explore the black queer experience in Britain today, self-acceptance and the transformative power of drag.
Get your copy of The Black Flamingo here.