Here for It
R. Eric Thomas
You might know him from “Eric Reads the News,” but this series of essays acts like a memoir for R. Eric Thomas, chronicling every awkward low and fabulous high along the way. Personal, relatable, and—most importantly—real, this book will help you feel all the feels.
Trailblazing. Classic. Deeply human. These are just a few words to describe James Baldwin’s masterpiece novel. While this book takes place in 1950s Paris, it feels as salient and necessary today. It explores the tension between following your heart and doing what the world tells you is “right.” In a world where these are so often in conflict, this book will provide inspiration.
To put it simply, this book is essential reading. Audre Lorde is a Black lesbian poet and feminist writer who tackles sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class in her book of fifteen iconic essays. Her writing transcends place and time, and is as salient and actionable now as it was at publication.
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Ocean Vuong veered from poetry for his debut novel, but brings the gorgeousness of his poetic prose with him. The story of a family, a first love, and hardship, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is told from the point of view of a son to a mother who can’t read. Achingly beautiful, this book tackles the immigrant experience, adversity, and a uniquely queer point of view.
Wow, No Thank You.
Samantha Irby is in a league of her own. The New York Times bestselling author and humorist has never been more outspoken, loud, proud, and (gleefully) out of control than she is in her latest book of essays. I promise this will make you laugh—even in these times.
I don’t think I can say it more eloquently than NPR, so I’ll share the rave review here, “In Fairest‘s carefully nuanced and detailed analysis, Talusan articulates the ways in which people of color create solidarity when there are only one or two non-white individuals in these elite, predominantly white spaces of privilege… This nuance, this careful attention to looking and attempting to understand this journey not just from her own perspective, but also from those affected by it, gives a welcome maturity, depth and resonance to Talusan’s memoir.”
Bryan Washington has been called by some a “literary prodigy.” LAMDA Literary seems to agree; they recently awarded this collection of related, but distinct, stories a “Lammy” for Gay Fiction. The books brilliantly and viscerally explores the interior lives of poor, queer folks of Black and Latinx heritage in Houston, and the intersectionality of these identities in a way that brings humanity to stories of gentrification.
Carolina De Robertis
Cantoras takes us to Uruguay in the 1970s, under which homosexuality is illegal. This book tells the story of five women who discover an isolated part of the country, and reunite over the years when they gather in their secret sanctuary. From the jacket: “A genre-defining novel and De Robertis’s masterpiece, Cantoras is a breathtaking portrait of queer love, community, forgotten history, and the strength of the human spirit. At once timeless and groundbreaking, Cantoras is a tale about the fire in all our souls and those who make it burn.”
Pride Month, for the out queer person, open ally, and friend or family of the queer community is usually a time of events, gatherings, parades, and protests. It’s a time to rally and be together as a community under the diversity of the rainbow and send a message to the world: we’re here, we’re queer, and (most importantly) we’re together.
This year, in addition to Pride happening in the context of a global pandemic, it’s also happening in the midst of ongoing and widespread upheaval with a different, but symbiotic, aim: to dismantle systematic inequality in this country. Let us never forget that the first Pride was a riot, and it was the Black community, transgender community, drag queens, sex workers, and other most marginalized among us who made our ability to be out and proud possible in the first place. Movements like Black Lives Matter and the concept of Pride rely on a simple idea: a society is only as great as it treats all of its people, including those who have been systematically oppressed, silenced, and killed. This moment to come together is not about rainbows and dance parties, it’s about unity. And in that spirit, we want to honor that Pride (in addition to anti-racism and social justice) has a place in our hearts and our reading lists. As Audre Lorde much more eloquently states, “There is no hierarchy of oppressions.”
This year won’t offer physical togetherness, unfortunately. Instead of in-person events and opportunities to advocate and demand change, we’ll have to do so safely from wherever we’re been socially distancing for the past few months. Or, where it’s appropriate for you and your family, to be advocating in solidarity with our brothers and sisters demanding intersectional change with Black Lives Matter.
But for those unable, this represents an opportunity. For the queer kids being bullied at a rural school who couldn’t make it to the big city for a Pride event, Pride gets its widest audience ever: the internet. For those closeted, questioning, or otherwise unable to express their truest selves, they can participate in virtual events from the safety of their beds. For those without the resources for travel, pride comes to you this year for the low, low cost of: free. While technologically this might be the most inclusive pride ever, there continues to be a need to keep shining a light on every aspect in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, and that’s what we’ve tried to assemble with this reading list for Pride 2020.
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