-By Emma Bilsborough, Sales & Marketing Coordinator

Happy Pride month! This month marks 50 years of Pride, so it's even more joyous and special than ever. Love is love is love, and we must celebrate the existence of it in all of its forms.

I've decided to spend my month focusing on reading literature written by or about LGBTQ+ people, reading The Song of Achilles for the first time, and delving in to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, both of which came well recommended.


I've also been giving thought to characters I have read in literature that are LGBT, and I thought I'd put together a little list of my favourites. In more recent years, LGBT representation in books and the media is improving (little by little) and subsequently I've been delighted to meet some wonderful characters in my reading experiences.

After last week's massive Reading List, I figured I'd keep this week's post a little shorter, so I'd love if you shared your favourites with me too.


So here we go.

Patrick,

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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"He's a wallflower...You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand."


Patrick quickly accepts Charlie into their friendship group, turning Charlie's world upside down. Charlie adores Patrick - and it's hard for us not to too. His relationship with Brad, though a key part of his story, is not all that he is. He's also a fierce friend, an open and totally ridiculous person, and aside from Charlie himself, my favourite character in the story.

Sixsmith and Frobisher,

Cloud Atlas

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“I believe there is another world waiting for us. A better world. And I'll be waiting for you there.”


I love both of these characters, but if I had to choose a favourite it'd be Sixsmith. Frobisher feels everything so intensely, so deeply (in keeping with his artistic nature), but I love the simplicity of Sixsmith's affection. Unwavering, unyielding, genuine.

Bram, Simon, Leah and Abby,

Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda / Leah on the Offbeat

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“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn't be this big awkward thing whether you're straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I'm just saying.”


Trying to choose a favourite character from the Creekwood series is difficult: each of them is complex and real, and I love that about these stories. In each of them you can see someone you know, or yourself, which I think is what you want from a coming of age story like this. Albertalli creates a world where queer relationships are normalized, she doesn't ignore the struggle with sexuality that many teens face. So, I didn't choose a favourite. They're all great.

Baz,

Carry On

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“You were the sun, and I was crashing into you. I'd wake up every morning and think, 'This will end in flames.”

I recommended this story in our LGBT History Month Reads List, because I really love fantasy stories, and I love the way that LGBTQ+ characters are being represented in them now. I chose Baz as my favourite because I love the drama of his character, how "evil" he is.

Elio,

Call Me By Your Name

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“He came. He left. Nothing else had changed. I had not changed. The world hadn't changed. Yet nothing would be the same. All that remains is dreammaking and strange remembrance.”

I won't pretend that this particular choice wasn't swayed by the brilliance of Timothée Chalamet, because it entirely was. Call Me By Your Name is the story of a summer romance, beautiful and poetic. Elio is intelligent, open and loving, and just a really incredible character.

Noah,

I'll Give You the Sun

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“Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you've been in before - you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers: You could find your way around in the dark if you had to.”

I love books that explore sibling relationships, as it's a dynamic I always find interesting. Noah and Jude are twins, and the story follows their tumultuous relationship and the emotional trauma and struggles they face as they grow, apart and together. This book is about love, in all of its forms: family, romantic, friendship, we face all of these relationships with the two twins. Noah is a complicated character, with a desperate need for love and acceptance. Fortunately, he finds his happy ending with the boy next door.

Achilles and Patroclus,

The Song of Achilles

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“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

This story is absolutely fantastic. It explores the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, a relationship that historians have long questioned. It's moving, dramatic and tragic, every word brilliantly written.

Ari and Dante,

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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“I wondered what that was like, to hold someone’s hand. I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.”

I'm actually only about half way through this, but I'm loving these two characters. They are like no other characters I've read before. The story is beautifully written, too, filled with wonderful words. Having read up on the story beforehand, I know I'm in for a happy ending, thank goodness for that.

Albus Dumbledore,

Harry Potter

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“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”

Dumbledore is an incredibly complex character. Intelligent beyond belief, talented, often kind and thoughtful and open-hearted, but also cruel, selfish and secretive. Creating characters like this is what J K Rowling does so well, you're left wondering just how you ought to feel about them. Dumbledore's sexuality is a topic widely discussed; without the genuine representation of his homosexuality, is it just a token throwaway decision, in response to the lack of any other LGBT characters in her vast universe? However, if we are to trust in JKR, which we'd like to say we do, we'll add him to our list.

Aziraphale and Crowley,

Good Omens

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“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”


Having recently watched the TV series, I decided to delve back into the book again. I read Good Omens first when I was still at secondary school, so probably at least ten years ago now (which is a scary thought in itself), but loved it as much coming back to it as I did upon the first read. Aziraphale and Crowley represent a lot of things to different people, and their lack of gender leaves room for interpretation. But, whatever they are, it's a love story quite unlike your normal Nicholas Sparks kind. While Crowley is brilliant, Aziraphale has to be my favourite because I love characters that I can see myself in and Aziraphale reminds me of me in many ways, even down to his bookshop, which reminds me of the Darwin room here at Bookbarn, though hopefully Darwin is more inviting and we actually quite like to sell our books.

So there you have it. Many book lovers have also argued that some of our other favourite characters could be LGBT; Emma Woodhouse demisexual, Sirius Black bisexual, Nick Carroway homosexual, Holden Caulfield homosexual, and many more. Moving forward, we hope to find many more LGBT+ characters in our stories, not only in books but in movies, TV shows and all over the place.

Make sure to share with us your favourite LGBTQ+ reads and characters, and have a happy Pride month, however you may be celebrating it.


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