Add these LGBTQIA-themed books to your summer reading lists to give yourself a more realistic and wholesome view of what it’s like to live as an LGBTQIA person in the world today, and how it has changed since the first conversations around non-binary genders began. Unlike the undignified portrayal LGBTQIA characters generally receive in Bollywood (whose sole purpose of writing these characters, it seems, is to use them as comic relief), Sharmistha More presents books which depict the LGBTQIA characters as well-rounded personalities, protagonists instead of supporting acts, and tell their story in their own words. So as pride month rolls around, don’t forget to indulge in some educative inclusivity!
- I Am Divine. So Are You by Devdutt Pattanaik and Jerry Johnson
In 2015, a historic panel discussion took place at the global Festival of Theology held in Sweden. Its objective was to examine what the sacred texts of the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – had to say about human sexuality. By bringing in perspectives from the Karmic faiths of Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Hinduism, which together represent the beliefs of almost a third of the world’s population, I Am Divine. So Are You expands this conversation between world religions and human sexuality to a truly global level. The theology of Karmic faiths is revealed at the intersection of scripture, culture, rituals and lived realities. Hence, they are dynamic and amenable to a multiplicity of perspectives. They lend themselves more easily to a recognition and acceptance of fluidity in human sexuality. This is a landmark book as it recasts religion – especially Karmic faiths – as an ally and not an adversary of queer emancipation and thus significantly informs the secular and legal movements for LGBTQ rights around the world.
2. Making Gay History by Eric Marcus
From the Boy Scouts and the U.S. military to marriage and adoption, the gay civil rights movement has exploded on the national stage. Using the heart-felt stories of more than 60 people, Marcus carries us through the compelling five-decade battle that has changed the fabric of American society. The rich tapestry that emerges from Making Gay History includes the inspiring voices of teenagers and grandparents, journalists and housewives, from the little known Dr. Evelyn Hooker and Morty Manford to former Vice President Al Gore, Ellen DeGeneres, and Abigail Van Buren. Together, these many stories bear witness to a time of astonishing change as gay and lesbian people have struggled against prejudice and fought for equal rights under the law. Speakers reflect changing generational views, from the assimilationist desires of elders to the in-your-face demands for acceptance by younger gays, demonstrating the shift in the movement from the early position that “we’re just like everyone else except for what we do in bed” to that of today’s gay person taking pride in his or her unique nature.
3. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
“The acerbic coming-of-age movie is adapted from Emily M. Danforth’s novel, and stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a lesbian teen who is sent to a gay conversion therapy centre after she gets caught having sex with her friend on prom night.”
When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl. But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone, and Cam becomes an expert at both. Then Coley Talor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship, one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she’s not quite sure who that is.
4. Chesea Girls by Eileen Myles
In this breathtakingly inventive autobiographical novel, Eileen Myles transforms life into a work of art. Told in her audacious voice, made vivid and immediate in her lyrical language, Chelsea Girls cobbles together memories of Myles’ 1960s Catholic upbringing with an alcoholic father, her volatile adolescence, her unabashed “lesbianity,” and her riotous pursuit of survival as a poet in 1970s New York. Suffused with alcohol, drugs, and sex; evocative in its depictions of the hardscrabble realities of a young artist’s life, Chelsea Girls is a funny, cool, and intimate account of a writer’s education, and a modern chronicle of how a young female writer shrugged off the chains of a rigid cultural identity meant to define her.
5. Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy and others as a girl. However, Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for re-election in über-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s life.
On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s really like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. And Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.
6. Lady Lolita’s Lover by R. Raj Rao
When a wealthy married woman named Lolita seduces Sandesh, a fifteen-year-old runaway working at a video store in Bombay, he has no idea how life altering his sexual awakening will be. Lolita’s husband learns of her infidelity, and Sandesh finds himself subjected to assault and battery. And that’s how he meets Jeevan Reddy, a high-profile criminal lawyer who takes his case, accuses Lolita of paedophilia . . . and enters into a relationship with Sandesh. From the mean streets of Bombay to the serene beaches of Goa, Lady Lolita’s Lover moves towards its tranquil denouement in the hills of Kodaikanal. Through strongly delineated characters and deftly woven dialogues, it unravels a world ignored and dismissed by many.