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LGBTQIA+ History and Experiences

A selection of books celebrating LGBTQIA+ history and experiences. For more more reading suggestions, check out the Insider Newsletter -- LGBTQ+


Cover of Queer: A Graphic History

Activist-academic Meg John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel. (Graphic novel)

Cover of Forcing the Spring: Inside

Details how a small but determined group of political and media insiders took the fight for marriage equality all the way to the Supreme Court.

Cover of Be Gay, Do Comics: Queer H
Bors, Editor

This anthology is filled with dozens of comics about LGBTQIA experiences, ranging from personal stories to queer history to cutting satire about pronoun panic and brands desperate to co-opt pride. Brimming with resilience, inspiration, and humor, an incredible lineup of top indie cartoonists takes you from the American Revolution through Stonewall to today's fights for equality and representation. (Graphic novel) eBook

Cover of A Queer History of the Uni

The first book to cover the entirety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender United States history, from pre-1492 to the present. eBook

Cover of David Bowie Made Me Gay: 1
Darryl W.

The first book to cover the breadth of history of recorded music by and for the LGBT community and how those records influenced the evolution of the music we listen to today.

Cover of Queer X Design: 50 Years o
Andrew Raymond

The first-ever illustrated history of the iconic designs, symbols, and graphic art representing more than 5 decades of LGBTQ pride and activism--from the evolution of Gilbert Baker's rainbow flag to the NYC Pride typeface launched in 2017 and beyond. eBook

Cover of Love Wins: The Lovers and
Cenziper and Jim Obergefell

The fascinating and very moving story of the lovers, lawyers, judges and activists behind the groundbreaking Supreme Court case that led to one of the most important, national civil rights victories in decades--the legalization of same-sex marriage. eBook

Cover of The Deviant's War: The Hom

From a young Harvard- and Cambridge-trained historian, the secret history of the fight for gay rights that began a generation before Stonewall. eBook

Cover of Legendary Children: The Fi
Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez

A definitive deep-dive into queer history and culture with hit reality show RuPaul's Drag Race as a touchstone, by the creators of the popular pop culture blog Tom and Lorenzo.

Cover of How to Survive a Plague: T

From the creator of and inspired by the seminal documentary of the same name--an Oscar nominee--the definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, and the powerful, heroic stories of the gay activists who refused to die without a fight.

Cover of The Gay Agenda: A Modern Q
Molesso and Chess Needham

A joyful celebration of the LGBTQ+ community's development, history, and culture, packed with facts, trivia, timelines, and charts, and featuring 100 full-color illustrations.

Cover of Virology: Essays for the L

A leading microbiologist tackles the scientific and sociopolitical impact of viruses in twelve striking essays. Osmundson's buoyant prose builds on the work of the activists and thinkers at the forefront of the HIV/AIDS crisis and critical scholars like José Esteban Muñoz to navigate the intricacies of risk reduction, draw parallels between queer theory and hard science, and define what it really means to "go viral." This dazzling multidisciplinary collection offers novel insights on illness, sex, and collective responsibility. Virology is a critical warning, a necessary reflection, and a call for a better future.

Available to download: Audio

Cover of How You Get Famous: Ten Ye

In How You Get Famous, journalist Nicole Pasulka joyfully documents the rebirth of the New York drag scene, following a group of iconoclastic performers with undeniable charisma, talent, and a hell of a lot to prove. The result is a sweeping portrait of the 21st-century search for celebrity and community, as well as a chronicle of all the struggles, fights, and disappointments along the way. A rollicking account of the quest to make a living through an art form on the cusp of becoming a cultural phenomenon, How You Get Famous offers an unmissable romp through the gritty and glamorous world of Brooklyn drag.

Cover of We are Everywhere: Protest
Riemer and Leighton Brown

Tracing queer history from the early 20th century before the 1969 Stonewall riots to today, this beautifully packaged book contains thousands of photos and pieces of ephemera with detailed captions that tell the story of the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights. The vintage and contemporary images cover every aspect of queer life and liberation, including pride marches and protests, the AIDS crisis, queer family life, personal snapshots from notable and regular people, drag queens, celebrations, reactions to important legal decisions, marriage equality, and more.

Cover of When Brooklyn was Queer

The never-before-told story of Brooklyn's vibrant and forgotten queer history, from the mid-1850s up to the present day. eAudio

Cover of The Stonewall Reader
The New York Public Library, Editors

Drawing from the New York Public Library's archives, The Stonewall Reader is a collection of firsthand accounts, diaries, periodic literature and articles from LGBTQ magazines and newspapers that documented both the years leading up to and the years following the riots. Most importantly, this anthology shines a light on forgotten figures who were pivotal in the movement, such as Lee Brewster, head of the Queens Liberation Front and Ernestine Eckstine, one of the few out, African American, lesbian activists in the 1960s.

Biographies, Essays and Memoirs

Cover of Fun Home: A Family Tragico

A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books. (Graphic novel)

Cover of ¡Hola Papi!: How to Come
John Paul

From popular LGBTQ advice columnist and writer John Paul Brammer, a memoir-in-essays chronicling his journey growing up as a queer, mixed-race kid in America's heartland to becoming the "Chicano Carrie Bradshaw" of his generation.

Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of How to Write an Autobiogra

The author's manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend.

Cover of Boy Erased: A Memoir

A poignant account by a survivor of a church-supported sexual orientation conversion therapy facility that claimed to "cure" homosexuality describes its intense Bible study program and the daily threats of his abandonment by family, friends and God, an experienced that transformed the author's relationships and self-understandings,"--NoveList. eBook, eAudio

Cover of A Year Without a Name
Cyrus Grace

For as long as they can remember, Cyrus Grace Dunham felt like a visitor in their own body. Their life was a series of imitations-lovable little girl, daughter, sister, young gay woman-until their profound sense of alienation became intolerable. Moving between Grace and Cyrus, Dunham brings us inside the chrysalis of gender transition, asking us to bear witness to an uncertain and exhilarating process that troubles our most basic assumptions about who we are and how we are constituted. eBook

Cover of There Will Be No Miracles

The testament of a boy and a generation who came of age as the world came apart--a generation searching for a new way to live. eBook, eAudio

Cover of Tranny: Confessions of Pun
Laura Jane

The provocative transgender advocate and lead singer of the punk rock band Against Me! provides a searing account of her search for identity and her true self.

Cover of Mean

Myriam Gurba's debut is the bold and hilarious tale of her coming of age as a queer, mixed-race Chicana. Blending radical formal fluidity and caustic humor, Mean turns what might be tragic into piercing, revealing comedy. This is a confident, funny, brassy book that takes the cost of sexual assault, racism, misogyny, and homophobia deadly seriously.

Cover of We Have Always Been Here:

A queer Muslim searches for the language to express her truest self, making peace with her sexuality, her family, and Islam.

Cover of How Far the Light Reaches:

Imbler profiles ten of the ocean's strangest creatures, drawing astonishing connections between their lives and ours and illuminating wondrous models of survival, adaptation, identity, sex, and care on our faltering planet.

Available to download: Audio

Cover of When We Rise: My Life in t

A longtime LGBTQ and AIDS activist offers an account of his life from sexually liberated 1970s San Francisco, through the AIDS crisis, and up to his present-day involvement with the marriage equality battle.

Cover of How We Fight for Our Lives

Written from the crossroads of sex, race, and power in America, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir and a haunting reflection of the nation as a whole. eBook, eAudio

Cover of In the Dream House: A Memo
Carmen Maria

This revolutionary memoir is an engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming. eBook, eAudio

Cover of Tomorrow Will be Different

Sarah McBride is on a mission to fight for transgender rights around the world. But before she was a prominent activist, and before she became the first transgender person to speak at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, she was a teenager struggling with her identity. With emotional depth and unparalleled honesty, Sarah shares her personal struggle with gender identity, coming out to her supportive but distraught parents, and finding her way as a woman.

Cover of Redefining Realness: My Pa

In a landmark book, an extraordinary woman recounts her coming-of-age as a transgender teen--a deeply personal and empowering portrait of self-revelation, adversity, and heroism.

Cover of No Ashes in the Fire: Comi
Darnell L.

From a leading journalist and activist comes a brave, beautifully wrought memoir, a story of beauty and hope - and an honest reckoning with family, with place, and with what it means to be free. eBook

Cover of Becoming Nicole: The Trans
Amy Ellis

The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family's extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all. eBook

Cover of One Life

Megan Rapinoe, Olympic gold medallist and two-time Women's World Cup champion, has become a galvanizing force for social change; here, she urges all of us to take up the mantle, with actions big and small, to continue the fight for justice and equality. Using anecdotes from her own life and career, from suing the United States Soccer Federation alongside her teammates over gender discrimination to her widely publicized refusal to visit the White House, Rapinoe discusses the obligation we all have to speak up, and reveals the impact each of us can have on our communities.

Cover of Ma and me

This compelling, accomplished memoir unpacks the intersections of identity and their effects on journalist Reang’s relationship with her mother. Food, language, family, career, displacement, community, and love form a powerful web in this brave, deep-think of a narrative about expectations and the stories that bind us to, and divide us from, those we love.

Cover of Burn the Page: A True Stor

The first openly trans person elected to a U.S. state legislature discusses her lonely and closeted childhood and how she re-wrote her own future by deciding to run for office.

Cover of My Autobiography of Carson

How do you tell the real story of someone misremembered--an icon and idol--alongside your own? Jenn Shapland's celebrated debut is both question and answer: an immersive, surprising exploration of one of America's most beloved writers, alongside a genre-defying examination of identity, queerness, memory, obsession, and love.

Cover of Fairest: A Memoir

A singular, beautifully written coming-of-age memoir of a Filipino boy with albinism whose story travels from an immigrant childhood to Harvard to a gender transition and illuminates the illusions of race, disability, and gender.

Cover of Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender

A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it's like to grow up not sure if you're (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above.

Cover of Over the Top: A Raw Journe
Van Ness

A laugh-and-cry-out-loud memoir from the beloved star of Netflix's Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness. eBook, eAudio

Cover of Born Both: An Intersex Lif

From one of the world's foremost intersex activists, a candid, provocative, and eye-opening memoir of gender identity, self-acceptance, and love. eAudio

Cover of A Wild and Precious Life

A lively, intimate memoir from an icon of the gay rights movement, describing gay life in 1950s and 60s New York City and her longtime activism which opened the door for marriage equality.

Cover of Why Be Happy When You Coul

This memoir is a tough-minded search for belonging, for love, an identity, a home, and a mother by the award-winning author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. eBook


Cover of The Tradition

The collection won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Judges of the prize called the book "a collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence."

Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Build Yourself a Boat

2019 National Book Award Longlist: Centering on black, female identity, this is an exquisite and thoughtful collection. This is about what grows through the wreckage. This is an anthem of survival and a look at what might come after. A view of what floats and what, ultimately, sustains.

A finalist for the PEN Open Book Award, Build Yourself a Boat redefines the language of collective and individual trauma through lyric and memory.

Cover of Alive at the End of the Wo

Like his mentors, Patricia Smith and Rigoberto Gonzalez, Saeed writes poems that are lyrical, playful, musical, and political. It troubles expectations and asks the reader to challenge their assumptions about Blackness, sexuality, and socioeconomics. Saeed is responding here to white supremacy, heteronormativity, respectability politics, and the murders of Black people. In the service of equity and peace, Saeed elevates the matters that keep him up at night.

Cover of Queer Nature: A Poetry Ant
Edited by
Michael Walsh

This anthology amplifies and centers LGBTQIA+ voices and perspectives in a collection of contemporary nature poetry. Showcasing over two hundred queer writers from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, Queer Nature offers a new context for and expands upon the canon of nature poetry while also offering new lenses through which to view queerness and the natural world.