February each year marks the celebration and remembrance of LGBT rights and civil rights movements, and the importance of support for the community.
Reading is the best and most effective way to understand the world, and to see things from a different perspective. Reading LGBT books broadens our understanding of the struggles of LGBT youth and adults, and makes us more empathetic and supportive.
So, we've put together a list of our favourite LGBT books of all time.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and Leah on the Offbeat, Becky Albertalli
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda was the debut novel of American author Becky Albertalli. The story follows Simon as he navigates being a gay teenager, and his subsequent coming out. It's an intelligent and genuinely sweet portrayal, and just a really great LGBT coming of age story. Leah on the Offbeat is the direct sequel to this story, and tells of Leah, Simon's best friend's struggles with her bisexuality. Both really brilliant stories, each a typical high school rom-com but with proper representation of different sexualities.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily Danforth
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is the story of a 12 year old girl, trying to understand her sexuality. Cameron is sent to a conversion therapy camp, and the story details her time there. Similar to Simon, it's a coming of age story, but it lacks the romanticism of Albertalli's novels. It's a little harder to swallow but allows us to understand the other side of coming out, and that in many cases it isn't received with affection and acceptance.
Every Day, David Levithan
Every Day is the story of A, who wakes up each day in a new body. This is an interesting representation of gender fluidity. If nothing else, this story will allow you to be more comfortable with the use of gender neutral pronouns. However, we hope it allows you much more, A is still a person, with thoughts and feelings and deep emotions, and this, if you're trying to understand gender fluidity and non binary individuals, should be a must read.
Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan
There's a brilliant trend over the last few years of Young Adult writers writing stories with diversity, inclusiveness and LGBT representation, and long may it continue. Reaching Young Adults who are growing and learning to understand themselves and others around them is more influential than we could possibly predict. Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan, falls neatly into this category, telling us the story of two young men falling for one another. It is a soft, genuine tale with acceptance and the normalisation of a gay love story.
Carry On, Rainbow Rowell
Yes to fantasy with excellent representation! Rowell's Fangirl characters Simon and Baz take centre stage in this story, and it's everything that Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter could have been if the novels were only written 20 years later. In fact, the entire story is a millennial version of the Harry Potter books. All of the same magic and adventure, a little less of the heartbreaking loss and heavier themes.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt
As we move into the adult LGBT books, it's clear that some of the content becomes a little darker. Tell the Wolves I'm Home brings us the character of June, who's uncle died from AIDS. The novel is set in the 1980s, when the AIDS crisis was sweeping through the homosexual population, and tells of the depth of loss felt by the arts community after the loss of this particular character.
The Hours, Michael Cunningham
A glorious homage to the even more glorious Virginia Woolf, and her novel Mrs Dalloway, and the way that the novel, and her work as a whole, has affected generations of women. In this novel, the presence of different sexual orientations - homosexuality, bisexuality - is subtle, and adds a layer to the story without being a specific plot device.
The Danish Girl, David Ebershoff
No doubt you've seen the movie of the same name, where Eddie Redmayne delivers a fantastic performance of the transition from Einar to Lili (if you haven't seen it, you must). The book is also a must. Though it finds it's feet in real-life, Lili Ebe having been one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery, the rest of the story is entirely fictional, including Einar's wonderful wife, Greta. Which is a shame because she's so wonderful that when reading The Danish Girl you fall a little in love with her.
The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst
We've recommended this one before, when we did our September suggestions on Instagram last year. It's an incredible story, we like to refer to it as the homosexual's Great Gatsby.
Stung With Love, Sappho
I mean, obviously Sappho has to be on the list. She's literally the reason for the word Lesbian. Her collection of poems, Stung With Love, is erotic, beautiful and poignant.
The City and the Pillar, Gore Vidal
This novel totally subverted convention when it was first published, being the first post world war two novel to portray a homosexual character, much less the story's protagonist, in a sympathetic light, with no horribly sad death to end his story. However, its ending leaves a little to be desired in our current climate, but the novel as a whole provides us an insight into the pressures of society at the time.
So that's it! Our list of LGBT must reads. Why not send us some of your recommendations?
Other brilliant recommendation lists:
Advocate's 25 best LGBT books of all time.
For the little ones in your life, check out these from the World Book Day website.