June is national LGBT Pride Month, when our community celebrates and commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969. June is also GLBT Book Month, a program of the American Library Association. The association says the month is designed as a “nationwide celebration of the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.” This year is the first time that the month is celebrated by the ALA, having previously been established in the early 1990s under The Publishing Triangle.
In celebration of Pride Month and GLBT Book Month, take a look at some of these classic and important LGBT-themed books and other writings. They’re must-reads for anyone in the community or allies seeking to better understand LGBT people, culture, politics or history.
Angels in America
by Tony Kushner
This epic play by playwright Tony Kushner brings to life the 1980s AIDS Crisis like none other. It’s been widely praised as one of the 20th century’s most important pieces of theatre and was later made into an HBO mini-series.
by Rita Mae Brown
Widely considered the first lesbian coming-of-age novel, published in 1973, Rita Mae Brown’s autobiography takes readers on a journey through her youth and her work becoming an author.
by James Baldwin
Published in 1956, this fictional novel by James Baldwin focuses on the life of an American, David, living in Paris. The story follows his adventures in the city, his relationships with other gay men there and his intimate relationship with Giovanni, whom David meets in a local gay bar.
The Normal Heart
by Larry Kramer
This largely autobiographical work by AIDS activist Larry Kramer tells the early story of the AIDS Crisis in New York City, 1981-1984, and the beginnings of Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
A Single Man
by Christopher Isherwood
This iconic 1964 novel was made famous in mainstream consciousness when it debuted as a Tom Ford produced film starring Colin Firth in 2009. The novel, like the movie, follows the life of George, a middle-aged professor, after the death of his partner.
Tales of the City
by Armistead Maupin
From Raleigh, N.C.-native Armistead Maupin, “Tales of the City” began as a serial in a San Francisco newspaper in the 1970s. The first novel was published in 1976, followed by several other titles in the series dating from 1980 through 2014.
by Martin Duberman
Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution
by David Carter
If you want an understanding of the early LGBT rights movement after the Stonewall Riots, take a look at these two non-fiction histories.
Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South
by James T. Sears
For a better understanding of LGBT history in the South — often overlooked in national LGBT history discussions and research — read this book from author James T. Sears. It even includes a good bit of information on North Carolina LGBT history.
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
by Janet Mock
To better understand contemporary transgender people and issues, check out this new, widely praised memoir from trans activist Janet Mock.
It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia and Winning True Equality
by Michelangelo Signorile
Marriage equality and other advancements in LGBT rights had many crying, “Free at last!” But the fight is far from over. Signorile makes the case that we have a long way to go in overcoming homophobia and attaining true equality.
Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality
by Jo Becker
Becker’s work on the inside look at the fight for marriage equality caused a stir for its perspective on the push for marriage equality. Signorile’s “It’s Not Over” has largely been considered a response to Becker’s book and recent fights for marriage equality.