Books on LGBTQ+ topics and issues are a great way to understand and celebrate the queer community, learning more about the achievements and struggle for liberation. In this article, we've curated a collection of our top 15 favourites, with all our recommendations available to buy online in the UK on Amazon and eBay.
These books are perfect for educational use, or to just to add to your shelf, from stories of gender transition, to ideas for LGBTQ+ inclusivity at schools and celebrations of the work the community has done to support other causes too. So, whether you're searching for fiction, memoirs or graphic novels, we've ranked the best books that celebrate the diversity and strength of the LGBTQ+ community.
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Table of Contents
Picking a book on LGBTQ+ issues isn't as simple as it may sound. You'll need to think about the kind of book you most enjoy and what you hope to gain from the reading experience.
In this section, we'll take a look at the various kinds of books that are out there to help make your decision easier. Whether you prefer fantasy stories or facts, there are LGBTQ+ books out there to suit all reading preferences and genres.
If learning the facts are your priority, you might want to choose a non-fiction book that discusses the history of the gay liberation movement or a particular element of the LGBTQ+ kaleidoscope.
Non-fiction LGBTQ+ books can teach us information about particular events and campaigns, or give a broad, data-centred representation of the queer community as a whole.
The personal memoirs of gay, bisexual, queer, transgender and non-binary writers present life from a personal perspective. Choosing a memoir puts you right inside the author's head, allowing you to share in the highs and lows of their lived experience.
Great if you are the kind of reader who likes a true story, but also the compelling narrative style often typical of autobiographies. These books provide insight into the lives of others, whether it's one you've never discovered before, or one you can relate to.
For lovers of imaginative fiction, novels with an LGBTQ+ storyline are a good call. Sometimes LGBTQ+ themes are central to the plot, other times the sexuality or gender identity of the characters is simply incidental. Either way, the excitement or emotions of the plot will keep you racing from chapter to chapter.
LGBTQ+ fiction is a good pick if you love escapism and want to add more books with queer characters to your shelves.
Whether it's a particular event, moment in time or area of LGBTQ+ life, of course you'll want to pick a book that suits your interests. Below we've divided your decision into possible categories.
Try to decide whether you want to read about similar experiences to your own, or learn about life from a different point of view. Picking a book you can relate to can serve as a reminder that others are living through similar stresses, strains and triumphs, helping to build a greater sense of community.
On the other hand, opting for a a read which looks at life from an unfamiliar angle can help you to broaden your perspective. Learning about the lives of others fosters greater empathy and understanding for experiences outside of our own.
If you want to learn more about concepts of gender and gender fluidity, you may want to choose a book that discusses transgender or non binary experiences. Addressing this topic from a non-cisgendered viewpoint encourages the reader to consider gender from a less rigid perspective.
This could be a book that is specifically explores the topic of gender, or approaches the idea more subtly. For example, through a novel with transgender, non binary or gender fluid characters.
Among the fifteen LGBTQ+ books we've picked are reads dedicated to particular moments in history, such as the Stonewall riots, or the UK Miners' Strike of the 1980s which had great support from the lesbian and gay community.
Choosing a book like this allows you to build your knowledge of LGBTQ+ struggles and successes. Historical reads can help to provide context and deepen your understanding of key events and prominent figures.
If you're a teacher, you may be seeking a book aimed at transforming your classroom into an LGBTQ+ friendly space. This is a great way to make sure students feel comfortable talking about queer issues around their peers.
Check out books with ideas for activities which bring diversity of gender and sexuality into the classroom in a variety of ways.
If you are a visual learner, check out books with photos or illustrations. Images have a way of really sticking in our minds, and can help to bring particular events and issues to life. Photos especially are a great way to introduce us to the important names and faces relevant to certain time periods.
Graphic novels are a similarly memorable pick, as they contain quirky illustrations to emphasise their message. For those who already love stories brought to life in cartoon form, an LGBTQ+ graphic novel is surely the ideal option!
Consider whether the book you're choosing is available in hardcover or paperback. Hardcover books are sturdy and strong, and look great on shelves or coffee tables, but can be cumbersome to lug around with you. So, these perhaps aren't the best pick to read on your journey to work.
Paperbacks are lightweight and can be bent and squished with relatively minimal damage. They are a good choice if you like to carry the book you're reading on the go, as they will fit easily in your backpack or handbag.
Keen to live a more minimal lifestyle? eBooks are a good choice as they reduce the amount of stuff crowding your shelves. The downside is that you'll be looking at a screen, but eBooks really can't be rivalled in terms of space saving and the sheer number you can keep on one device.
Audiobooks are a top pick for multi-taskers, or those who prefer to switch off after a busy day's work. This way, you can sit back have the story read to you in the dulcet tones of a professional narrator.
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We Are Everywhere
A Rich Photographic History of LGBTQ+ Liberation
Beyond the Gender Binary
A Pocket Sized Re-Imagining of Gender
Dr Ellie Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile
How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place
Making Education Fairer, Safer and More Open
Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele
Queer: A Graphic History
A Boldly Illustrated Graphic Novel Celebrating Queer History
Jason Baumann and Edmund White
The Stonewall Reader
LGBTQ History Told Through Library Archives, Articles and Essays
Pride: The Unlikely Story of the True Heroes of the Miner's Strike
The Heartwarming Book Behind the Hit Film
Tipping The Velvet
A Nuanced Exploration of Lesbian Love and Gender Fluidity
Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us
A Thought-Provoking Un-Picking of Traditional Gender Roles
Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith and Family
A Deeply Moving Story Beautifully Told
A Unique Tale of Sexuality and Gender
This wonderful book was put together by the creators behind the Instagram account @lgbt_history. It's a smashing read, giving even total novices a solid background on queer activism, with European roots reaching back into the 1800s.
The narrative weaves a compelling tale and the high-quality photographs illustrate the story marvellously, making this a pertinent choice of book if you're the kind of reader who enjoys visual stimulation to supplement your learnings. Heartwarming, uplifting and fierce!
Alok Vaid-Menon is a powerhouse when it comes to owning one's gender identity and this book is a glorious pocket-sized guide to both understanding your own and respecting others. This is a hugely important read, particularly in light of the current UK government's questionable approach to transgender and non-binary rights.
Recommended by artists such as Sam Smith and Billy Porter, this book encourages the reader to see gender as a magnificent rainbow spectrum, rather than in black and white. It is truly a mood-boosting read that will inspire readers to embrace fluidity in themselves and others.
Schools are a brilliant place to start when it comes to helping young LGBTQ+ people have the confidence to live their truest lives. Maybe you're a teacher hoping to centre queer stories in the classroom, or know someone working in education who has similar goals.
This far-reaching and practical guide tackles the task of making classrooms LGBTQ+ friendly, with simple suggestions and bold ideas you can easily achieve in your own school and community. A top pick for heads of year, or those wanting ways to inspire their management team.
Queer: A Graphic History, is a top choice for visual learners and fans of comic books and graphic art. Packed with clear statistics, memorable quotes and infographics, the bite-sized information will help readers to digest facts.
A useful and informative read, this book is a well-rounded exploration of queer theory and the lived experience of the LGBTQ+ community. It's written by activist and academic Meg-John Barker and brought to life with drawings from illustrator Jules Scheele.
It's been 51 years since the Stonewall uprising kickstarted the gay pride movement in the USA, the effects of which are now seen and celebrated around the world. Yet, more than 70 countries still criminalise and punish homosexuality with imprisonment and death.
This book is a curated collection of essays, diary accounts and news articles from the years leading up to the riots, and those that followed. It turns the spotlight onto the less-loudly-celebrated figures from the queer liberation movement, like Ernestine Eckstine, an openly gay activist who was one of few Black women demanding LGBTQ rights in the 1960s.
For readers who love a true story, you can't get much better than this! Pride is a fun, frolicksome read with an intensely powerful message. Prepare to be deeply moved by the beauty of two marginalised communities coming together to support one an other at a time when breaking from the 'norm' was punishable with violence and hatred.
The campaign of 'Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners' shows solidarity between the queer community and the miners striking against Margaret Thatcher's plans, inspiring feelings of togetherness and friendship, regardless of cultural and class background.
This book is an excellent choice if you're after a sumptuously-told novel with vivid descriptions, multiple plot-lines and memorable characters. The story is set between London and Whitstable in the 1890s, telling the tale of a woman who develops a relationship with a male impersonator.
This book is thrilling at times, hilarious in others and explicit regarding the sexual relationship between its main characters. It toys with the notion of gender identity, and is ultimately a cracking good read!
Kate Bornstein's book is one that has inspired millions of readers who don't feel any more at home on one side of the gender binary than the other. Kate's wit and warmth are celebrated in the trans community and this book gives voice to the experiences she has lived.
It's partly a coming-of-age tale and at the same time an uplifting and inspiring call to arms. With emphasis on trans and non-binary joy, it's a powerful and thought-provoking manifesto for gender equality and freedom.
This heart-wrenching memoir weaves together the themes of religion, personal identity and family relationships to create a touching, and at times horrifying, read.
An account of a fundamentalist Christian childhood in a drab, oppressive Arkansas. The book explores Conley's personal terror at his own sexual desires, his experience of sexual assault and his parents' ultimatum; undergo conversion therapy or be ousted from the family and the community.
Listed as one of the BBC's 'Top 100 Books that Shaped Our World', Virginia Woolf's Orlando is the story of a character we first meet as a man and then, generations later, as a woman. In this book, the matter of gender fluidity is simply stated as a fact, rather than the subject of scrutiny.
Virginia Woolf's highly evocative writing style seductively captures the magic of an English winter, with its chilly tone infiltrating the segments set in the much hotter climes of what was once 'Constantinople'. A brilliant and timeless read, interwoven with themes of exoticism and mystery.
Alex Bertie approaches the telling of his transition with a frank fondness and a warm sense of silliness. Based on his real-life experience as a transgender man, this book provides a relatable read that can be equally illuminating for those wanting to better empathise with trans stories and the trans-masculine experience.
Going through puberty is pretty stressful, even if you're not transgender. The lighthearted tone of this book makes it an uplifting read, even through the darkness and difficulty.
The Color Purple celebrates companionship, sex and love between two women connected by one man. It's a powerful exploration of abuse survival, and the struggle to escape poverty and find self-acceptance, that has since been adapted into a film and a musical.
This novel is bitingly clever and sharp, with a tenderness that sticks with you even when the last chapter is long finished. For added poignancy, this edition also includes an introductory letter from the author Alice Walker.
Glamrou is truly a modern day icon! The drag alter-ego of author Amrou Al-Kadhi, this true story is sure to provide belly-laughs and tear-stained cheeks in equally measure. Flying a proud flag for gay and queer Muslims everywhere, it's an absolute must-read no matter how you identify.
Read about Amrou's relationship with his unfathomably glamorous mother, whose natural campness provided inspiration, but whose traditional values caused extreme pain. Amrou is a joyful narrator, blazing the trail for young gay Iraqis and pointing out the Koran's 'queer potential'.
Slicing straight to the heart of familial love and despair, this beautiful and truly unique book is an ode to the author's teenage self. Written by an award-winning poet, the prose is rhythmic, musical and captivating.
From fraught family ties to teenage love affairs, relatable lived experiences are treated with a gently poetic touch. Vuong's references to smells, sensations and tastes bring the words on each page to vivid, twinkling life in a story of political power, presented with a lyrical touch.
Juliet Jacques explores the ways her life as a critic and journalist have been shaped by the fact she is transgender woman. In this book, she highlights the propensity of editors to encourage her to write about gender, over the brilliant things she had to say about film, fiction and the economy
From the straightforward realities of gender transition, to the elements of popular culture that made the process joyful and provided hope, Jaques eloquently discusses a range of topics, including medical transition through the framework of capitalism - an expensive privilege not all transgender people are able to afford.
While you're educating yourself on LGBTQ+ issues, why not take the opportunity to expand your bookshelf with more informative reads? Below we've linked you to some articles which will help you broaden your mind through the magic of reading. Discover more top ranking educational books you can enjoy alone, share with friends or even use as teaching resources.
Whether you're buying a book for yourself, to help educate others, or to better understand the issues your LGBTQ+ friends and loved ones face, we think it's great you've decided to learn more on this bold, beautiful community!
Author: Annie Hopkins
No. 1: Leighton Brown｜We Are Everywhere
No. 2: Alok Vaid-Menon｜Beyond the Gender Binary
No. 3: Dr Ellie Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile ｜How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place
No. 4: Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele｜Queer: A Graphic History
No. 5: Jason Baumann and Edmund White｜The Stonewall Reader
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