In the United States, LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated every June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which took place in New York City in 1969 and marked a turning point in the fight for equality. If you’re looking for some new queer reads to enjoy this June, then look no further than the books featured in this roundup.
First Time for Everything
by Henry Fry
Ballantine Books, 400 pages, $27.00
Henry Fry’s First Time for Everything is a queer coming-of-age novel that follows twenty-something Danny Scudd as he’s forced to recognize that everything he has always wanted might not actually be everything he has always needed. Having dreamed since childhood of escaping the monotony of life above his parents’ small-town fish and chip shop, Danny moved to London as soon as he was able and launched a career as a journalist. While his career is now going okay, he’s not exactly setting the world alight with earth-shattering stories, nor is he feeling particularly fulfilled in his personal life either. In fact, things were looking pretty ropey in his relationship with his self-centered boyfriend Tobbs even before a visit to the doctor indicated that Tobbs might not have been exactly faithful. When Tobbs stubbornly maintains that the pair had never actually agreed to be monogamous, Danny finds himself single at just the same time his housemates ask him to move out so that they can have the space to start a family. With no other affordable options available, Danny moves into a commune in East London that is home to his flamboyant childhood friend Jacob. All this change launches Danny on a journey of self-discovery that encompasses the perils of dating, the slog of working, and the alarming outcomes of therapy, lots and lots of therapy. It all makes for a delightfully funny story populated by characters that readers will really grow to care about.
by Susie Dumond
Dial Press, 400 pages, $17.00
Terminal people-pleaser Amy has spent her life putting other people first, often sacrificing her own hopes and dreams to do so. Things start to look up, however, when she meets Charley, an attractive lesbian engineer who has recently moved to Amy’s hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her friends and coworkers are thrilled that she seems to finally be ready to move on from her ex-girlfriend and pursue a future as her authentic self, but Amy doesn’t quite seem able to let go of her people-pleasing and self-sabotaging tendencies just yet. While she has secure employment as a baker and bartender, she agrees to take a one-off job as a stand-in bridesmaid in order to make some extra cash, which quickly morphs into a full-time career due to Amy having spent years obsessing over weddings and perfecting her baking and crafting skills. Once again, her deep-seated desire to please other people kicks into overdrive and threatens to derail her friendships as well as her budding relationship with Charley. It is only when all the plates she has been spinning for so long look set to drop that Amy finds the courage to really examine her life and consider what she truly wants. Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond is a tender and uplifting celebration of queer love and the magic of individuality. Amy’s attempts to find both herself and true love make for a rom-com with a whole lot of heart.
I Feel Love: Notes on Queer Joy
by Samantha Mann
Read Furiously, 176 pages, $17.95
Edited by Samantha Mann, the author of Putting Out: Essays on Otherness, I Feel Love: Notes on Queer Joy is an anthology of diverse memoirs, works of creative nonfiction, and poetry dedicated to the “priceless event or moment” that caused each included author to recognize their own queer joy. As a consequence, the pieces featured in the collection all focus in different ways on the process of finding devotion and happiness within both the self and others. They invite readers into a host of deeply personal moments and powerful realizations, and they all seek to foster the understanding that being true to yourself is the most precious of gifts. In putting together the anthology, Mann sought to highlight the need for inclusiveness and community among queer authors, with her overall aim being to showcase the diversity of experiences of queer love in order to unite members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies in appreciating the range of voices currently writing on the subject. This is the perfect collection for readers looking to appreciate and celebrate the many talented writers within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Love That Story: Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life
by Jonathan Van Ness
HarperOne, 256 pages, $27.99
In Love That Story: Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life, Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness presents a collection of powerful, emotive, and often highly amusing essays about both his life to date and his observations of the wider world. The personal essays cover a wide array of topics, including experiences of grief and tragedy, being diagnosed and living with HIV, the unexpected queer history of his hometown, as well as eating disorders and body image issues. From the deeply serious to the rather frivolous, these essays all deal with their subjects in a heartfelt, honest, and entertaining manner. In terms of the essays with a more global perspective, they cover issues as diverse as racial inequality and the rise of white supremacy in the United States, the prevalence of transphobia, and means of dealing with imposter syndrome. In addition, to Van Ness’ own observations, these latter essays include expert opinions and are intended to provide information, guidance, and comfort to readers. Taken together, the varied works collected in this volume have plenty of insight, wit, and life-affirming wisdom to impart.
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School
by Sonora Reyes
Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, 400 pages, $18.98
Sonora Reyes’ The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School follows closeted sixteen-year-old Yamilet Flores as she navigates life at a Catholic school where the majority of other students are very rich and very white, while also doing all she can to avoid people finding out that she’s gay. She transferred to the school after being outed by her crush and former best friend at her previous school, and this time around she’s determined to keep her private life private. With that in mind, she has decided to focus on keeping her brother safe, making her mother proud, and avoiding relationships at all costs. Unfortunately, Yami’s never been particularly good at any of those things, and the desire to avoid relationships becomes even more difficult after she meets Bo, the only openly queer girl at the school. As she finds herself becoming increasingly drawn to Bo, Yami decides that she needs to follow a simple plan when in school, that is, she needs to ask: What would a straight go do? Her attempts to put this plan into practice lead to a story that is simultaneously hilarious, heartbreaking, and uplifting.