In 2015, I was in San Francisco for a conference during Pride Weekend. The celebration coincided with the Supreme Court of the United States decision for Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage. The energy in the city was ecstatic. I attended the Pride Parade and have never felt so much love and joy in one place; it was a beautiful time.
As Pride celebrations in Jersey City and Hudson County are kicking off, the theme for this installment of Jersey City Librarian Recommends is LGBTQ books and authors.
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
I wrote about romance in my last column, but this book is too good not to share. Alex, First Son of a female POTUS (!), has a love/hate relationship with the United Kingdom’s Prince Henry. As their relationship moves more toward love, Alex realizes he is bisexual. This book includes several queer supporting characters.
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
Janet Mock and Laura Jane Grace wrote important memoirs capturing the experiences of transgender women.
Janet Mock was a journalist and her factual writing style discusses her transition. She also shares a dangerous situation she experienced as a sex worker in Hawaii that was a tense read. Conversly, the story of how she met and came out to her now-husband is lovely.
Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Sellout by Laura Jane Grace
Laura Jane Grace, a musician and songwriter, is more introspective. She acknowledges past bad behavior as lead singer of punk band Against Me! and connects it to not living as her true self. She wrote about her gender dysphoria in the song “The Ocean.”
Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
In this lush book, the reader follows a passionate protagonist who embarks on affairs with both men and women. Neither the name nor the gender of the protagonist is disclosed, which allows the reader to use their imagination.
A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez
This memoir is Daisy’s story of growing up queer in an immigrant family, where her sexuality was not widely accepted. Daisy spent her childhood in Union City, so this book gets extra points for being local.
Queer Eye: Love Yourself. Love Your Life
This book is co-written by all members of the new Fab Five. Each is given two chapters to share their origin stories and their personalities, as well as their respective areas of expertise.
By now all cast members, excepting Bobby Berk, have published or will publish a book. I am interested in Jonathan Van Ness’s book Over the Top, which will be released in September. JVN recently came out as genderqueer, gender noncomforming, and nonbinary.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
Tango tells the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who paired off. The zoo’s staff noticed the two built a nest and tried to hatch a rock, so they gave them a real egg. Together the penguins raised baby Tango. Sadly, people have complained about this sweet picture book being in public libraries (also known as a “challenge” in the field) across the country since its publication in 2005.
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Early versions of Anne’s diary were censored to hide her negative portrayal of her mother (like many teenage daughters and mothers, they fought bitterly), and that Anne may have been either bisexual or a lesbian. She wrote about once sharing a bed with a female friend and wondered how kissing a woman would feel. It is important that these passages are now published and depict Anne as a normal teenage girl who curious about her sexuality.
These books are available at your local bookstores and libraries. Do you have a favorite LGBTQ author?
Happy Pride and Happy Reading!