In celebration of #GLAADSpiritDay: Ten LGBTQ* books

October 16, 2014

From Daniel Radcliffe’s work for Trevor Project and portrayal of Allen Ginsberg, to Jessie Cave’s recent role as Zoe in the film Pride, the Potter cast has shown their support for LGBTQ* individuals over the years, and today millions go purple for Spirit Day in a stand against bullying. Observed annually since 2010, purple symbolizes “spirit” on the rainbow flag. Charlie recommends ten books that celebrate diversity and include LGBTQ* main characters.

This Book Is Gay
By James Dawson

A hilarious and insightful book about being lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer, transgender for anyone who is curious to find out more. Former PSHCE teacher and our reigning QUEEN OF TEEN, YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it’s like to grow up as LGBTQ*. The book includes frank and funny testimonials from people across the gender and sexual spectrums. Supported by Spike Gerrell’s hilarious illustrations, THIS BOOK IS GAY covers everything from labels and stereotypes, pulling tactics and socials, support lines and health to give you everything you need to know beyond coming out. James is also the author of two LGBTQ* inclusive YA titles, Hollow Pike and Cruel Summer, plus spooky spirit filled Say Her Name and Under My Skin coming next year.

Two Boys Kissing
By David Levithan

A book that follows several journeys to powerful effect. The two boys kissing are Craig and Harry who hope to set the world record for the longest kiss. They’re not a couple, but they used to be. Peter and Neil are a couple. Their kisses are different. Avery and Ryan have only just met and are trying to figure out what happens next. Cooper is alone. He’s not sure how he feels. As the marathon progresses, these boys, their friends and families evaluate the changing nature of feelings, behaviour and this crazy thing called love.
A touching and beautiful novel which looks to the past and future. The US edition has one of the best covers ever.

Everything Leads to You
By Nina La Cour

A romantic, unapologetic love story set in sunny LA. After being entrusted with her brother’s Los Angeles apartment for the summer as a graduation gift, Emi Price isn’t sure how to fulfil his one condition: that something great take place there while he’s gone. Emi may be a talented young production designer, already beginning to thrive in the competitive film industry, but she still feels like an average teen, floundering when it comes to romance. But when she and her best friend, Charlotte, discover a mysterious letter at the estate sale of a Hollywood film legend, Emi must move beyond the walls of her carefully crafted world to chase down the loose ends of a movie icon’s hidden life, leading her to uncover a decades’ old secret and the potential for something truly epic: love. A swoon-worthy romance with a stellar plot which will appeal to anyone who loves behind the scenes glimpses at film set glamour.

Unspeakable
By Abbie Rushton

Megan doesn’t speak. She hasn’t spoken in months. Pushing away the people she cares about is just a small price to pay. Because there are things locked inside Megan’s head – things that are screaming to be heard – that she cannot, must not, let out. Then Jasmine starts at school: bubbly, beautiful, talkative Jasmine. And for reasons Megan can’t quite understand, life starts to look a bit brighter. Megan would love to speak again, and it seems like Jasmine might be the answer. But if she finds her voice, will she lose everything else?
A slow burning crush with a heart stopping mystery.

Far from You
By Tess Sharpe

Nine months. Two weeks. Six days. That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend Mina died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered. Forced into rehab for a drug addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer. But can she track them down before they come for her?
Far From You is a gripping thriller which actually dares to use the ‘b’ word with sensitive portrayal of bisexual romance. You’ll have your heart in your throat for Sophie as she comes to terms with the past and her future.

I Am J
By Cris Beam

J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a ‘real boy’ and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible – from his family, from his friends…from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he’s done hiding – it’s time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.
Exploring class, race, gender and self expression, I Am J is an excellent transgender story.

The Art of Being Normal
By Lisa Williamson

Two boys. Two secrets. David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long …
Compelling and ground breaking UK YA from debut author Lisa Williamson. The Art of Being Normal is well researched and shows a variety of human circumstances – her narrative crosses socioeconomic class divides and looks at a spectrum of gender representation following the lives of two teens as they determine their identity. Join in the cover reveal flash mob on the 21 October.

Pantomime and Shadowplay
By Laura Lam

Iphigenia ‘Gene’ Laurus is the heiress of a noble family, bound by corsets and her Mother’s rich ideals. Micah Grey is a runaway, taking refuge in R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic, the greatest circus in Ellada. With a head for heights, the beckoning call of the aerialists is too tempting to resist, and a new life is forged in the heart of the tumbling circus life where anything seems possible. But not all is as it first appears, and identity is given the sleight of hand. Surrounded by the mystical blue Penglass and remnants of a civilisation half-forgotten, the adventure is only just beginning, with danger lurking at every turn. What does it take to learn about yourself under the weight of expectation?
Laura’s Micah Gray series gives voice to Intersex youth, and does so amidst a compelling and intriguing fantasy setting. 2015 will see more representation for people who are born intersex with None of the Above by Ilene Gregorio as well as the current season of MTV’s Faking It.

Grasshopper Jungle
By Andrew Smith

In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend Robby have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things. This is the truth. This is history. It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
This polyamorous bisexual protagonist faces off against killer bugs and introspection in a rip roaring adventure through the grassy roads of Ealing.

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
By Sarah Farizan

A diverse, funny love story with some serious mixed signals.
Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. As an Iranian American, she’s different enough; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when beautiful new girl Saskia shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.

Let us know in comments if you’ve read any of the titles and share any recommendations!
I hope you join us in wearing purple to support Spirit Day. You can also donate to the HP Alliance Equality FTW. For more recommendations check out the gay ya tumblr.