9 Queer YA Books to Help You Celebrate Pride
It’s the most magical time of the year: Pride! A whole month to celebrate queer and trans identities. This year there’s so much on the line — from anti-trans legislations to the proliferation of “don’t say gay" bills to the increase in book bans, it’s crucial that the LGBTQ+ community and our allies come together not just to celebrate but also to fight back!
In the spirit of celebration, though, I’m sharing a list of nine queer YA novels I’ve read and loved in the past few years.
"Self-Made Boys" by Anna-Marie McLemore
Listen, I have talked about this book so much and I will continue to talk about this book so much!! It’s freaking brilliant, a Great Gatsby remix that envisions Gatsby and Nick as trans boys and Nick and Daisy as Latinx teens. It’s got gorgeous writing, a thrilling story, and is beautifully diverse.
"Kiss & Tell" by Adib Khorram
I just read this one earlier this year, and it was incredible! I loved how unflinching it was in tackling the disgusting way people often treat celebrities’ private lives and the fact that it was so sex positive. I loved the writing and the structure and overall just thought it was brilliant!
"How It All Blew Up" by Arvin Ahmadi
Another excellent queer novel I read earlier this year! It follows an Iranian American gay teenager who runs away to Rome and it is utterly fabulous. Deep conversations about belonging and identity paired with Italian shenanigans paired with a heartwarming family story. Highly recommend.
"You Should See Me in a Crown" by Leah Johnson
I know this one is not new, but that doesn’t make it any less worth recommending! Johnson is such a funny writer, and this book sings with personality and vibrancy. A queer girl in Indiana runs for prom queen and falls in love with another contestant. Boom. Perfection.
"Cool for the Summer" by Dahlia Adler
I'm including this one simply because I haven’t yet read her new novel, Going Bicoastal (out next week!), and Dahlia Adler is simply my queen of sapphic romances. This one follows a bisexual girl who gets the guy of her dreams…except the girl of her summer shows up suddenly? It’s peak gay panic and I truly loved it so much.
"Cemetery Boys" by Aiden Thomas
Y’all. I read this book at a time when I really needed something good to happen and it delivered. It’s about a trans brujo who accidentally raises the wrong ghost (whoops) and that ghost just so happens to be a delightful gay boy with whom sparks fly. It’s so good. I can’t wait for the sequel.
"Girls Like Girls" by Hayley Kiyoko
If you’d like a blast from the past and to literally feel like it’s 2006 again, this book high-key delivers on the atmosphere. Based off the music video of Kiyoko’s hit song, “Girls Like Girls,” this book is beat for beat perfection.
"If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come" by Jen St. Jude
THIS BOOK REWIRED MY BRAIN. It’s not just a brilliant queer coming-of-age story, it’s also a beautiful reflection of a depressed girl and it says so much about life and why it’s worth living. And it’s super queer. I loved this book so stinking much.
"Blood Debts" by Terry J. Benton-Walker
This is a YA contemporary fantasy where one of the main characters is a Black gay boy and it broke my heart and tore it to shreds and pissed me off and had me cheering and I’m so stressed about the sequel cause it’s INTENSE. It was so good!
There you go! Nine queer YAs I’ve read and loved. And in the spirit of fighting back, here are some tips.
Remember to call your reps and senators to let them know where you stand not just on fighting unjust bills but also on installing protections against discrimination. Register to vote. Attend protests if you are able and it’s safe to do so. Write your public library and school administrators to express support for diverse books — not just queer books, but books by and about BIPOC, disability, sex education, etc.
Happy Pride, friends!
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