6 Books About Being LGBTQ+ Every Ally Should Read

by Matador Creators Mar 10, 2017

Matador Network editors Matt Hershberger, Ana Bulnes, and Morgane Croissant rounded up 6 books about being LGBTQ+ that will help you understand and celebrate the sexual and gender diversity of the world we live in.

The Mirror of Love by Alan Moore

When the parliament in the United Kingdom passed the Local Government Act of 1988, they included an infamous clause known as Section 28. Section 28 said that the local governments of England, Scotland, and Wales “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality.” At the time, Alan Moore, the visionary comics writer behind Watchmen, From Hell, and V for Vendetta, was in a relationship with his wife and their girlfriend. So, he started a group called “Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia,” or “AARGH!” for short. The group released a comics anthology from artists all over the country. Easily the most moving entry was Moore’s epic poem, The Mirror of Love, which serves as a history of the LGBTQ movement from ancient times till now. Section 28 was repealed in 2003, and Moore released the poem as its own book in 2004. –Matt Hershberger

Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

One morning, after a week-long sleep, Orlando wakes up and discovers he is now a woman. He (now she) doesn’t seem surprised and goes on with her life. This trick, almost halfway the book, opens up a whole new world of possibilities: Virginia Woolf can write freely about how her heroine is still in love with a woman, and how the change of sex had only quickened and deepened “those feelings which she had as a man.” The novel, inspired by her lover Vita Sackville-West, has been called “the longest and most charming lesbian feminist love letter in literature;” it’s also hilarious at times (after all, it’s a mock biography) and still highly relevant. Orlando is also one of Virginia Woolf’s most accessible novels, so it’s a perfect place to start if you haven’t read anything by her. –Ana Bulnes

God in Pink by Hasan Namir

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Ramy is a young gay Iraqi man who struggles with the expectations of his religion, his culture, his family and his country. As a Muslim, he is aware that God condemns and severely punishes men who love other men, yet he also knows that God created him that way. To try to better understand Islam’s view on homosexuality, he discreetly seeks the guidance of the local sheikh whose tolerance and humanity is tested by Ramy’s questions. God in Pink is a gut-wrenching short novel that shows how difficult it is for young Muslim LGBTQ+ people to be accepted by their community and the violence and desperation that unfolds from this intolerance. –Morgane Croissant

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon’s 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is about as American as they come. Fleeing the Nazis, Jewish Czech artist Joe Kavalier is smuggled in a crate (with the Golem of Prague) to the US. When he gets to New York, he spends his time with his distant cousin, Sammy Clay, who, with Joe as the artist, starts writing comics about an anti-Fascist superhero named the Escapist. Joe struggles with having left his family behind and being an immigrant in a strange land, while Sammy struggles with his homosexuality at a time when being gay was not okay in the United States. It’s a beautiful tribute to how the things that make us different are the things that make us Americans, and it’s the perfect book to read in these dark times. –Matt Hershberger

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

In this graphic novel, Alison Bechdel tells her own experience growing up and coming to terms with her sexuality, her relationship with her father (whom she thinks was a closeted gay man and whose death she concludes was a suicide), and the feeling of liberation when she finally comes out as a lesbian. It’s a beautiful and brutal coming of age graphic memoir that everyone should read. –Ana Bulnes

George by Alex Gino

George was biologically born a boy, but she knows that she is a girl at heart. She would love to be able to explain how she feels to her brother, her mom, and her best friend at her elementary school, but is terrified of being deemed a “freak” and being rejected. This novel for young adults should be read by anyone who has trouble understanding what transgender individuals go through. It is simple, yet very effective in showing how coming out to your family and friends can be paralyzing. It is filled with subtle sadness and great joys. I recommend it to anyone who wants to be a better ally to trans people. –Morgane Croissant

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