BLOG: Pride Month – LGBTQ+ Books and Bloggers

I was discussing the other day that as a straight, cisgender woman, I actually have no idea when Pride is in the UK. I’m fairly confident the Birmingham Pride event takes place in May, whilst Nottingham’s is in July and Leicester hold theirs in late August or early September – it used to be held in the park across the road from my flat, and we had a beautiful vista of rainbows and revels for that weekend. Essentially, according to my calendar, Pride has taken over Summer, and is now slowly encroaching onto late Spring and early Autumn, soon to dominate the whole year, which frankly is no bad thing.

I did wonder about the merits of my doing a Pride post from my own position, so I’m going to do two things – I’m going to mention the books I have read that have LGBTQ+ representation, and I am also going to direct you to LGBTQ+ bloggers, as in the end it is their voices this month is about.

BLOGGERS

The Diverse Book Bloggers campaign has created a directory of diverse bloggers over on their website, so this is a good place to stop! As well as ethnically diverse bloggers, and disabled bloggers, there is a list of LGBTQ+ bloggers who are all excellent.

Dora Reads

This is a fantastically thoughtful blog, covering not just book reviews, but also TV and film, mental health advocacy, fan fiction, and queer representation in the media and fiction. Check out her list on literary diversity – something she does annually – to promote diversity across all areas.

CandidCeilie

The author of queer fiction under the pen name Candace Harper, Ceilie also blogs about mental health and autism awareness alongside book reviews and her own writing. She posts book reviews on Mondays and Fridays, and has discussion posts on other subjects throughout the week.

Sweaters and Raindrops

Running since 2015, the premise of this blog is cosy reads for rainy days, which is such a lovely sentiment. The blog promotes diverse books, and also gives clear trigger warnings for issues which may be difficult for readers. Whilst there is a lot of SFF across the blog, there are books targeted at different age ranges, and also other genres.

Sleepy Sam Reads

A really neat lady, Sam (currently training to be a mortician!) reads and reviews a lot of YA and LGBTQ+ books. Whilst she enjoys fantasy, dystopic, and contemporary fiction, she is not afraid to branch out and read something different. She is also great at including trigger warnings where appropriate.

A Cat, a Book, and a Cup of Tea

Asha has probably one of the fluffiest cats in all the world, and a huge swathe of reviews of SFF and historical fiction across a range of ages. Her reading speed is frankly astonishing (she’d read 218 books by 11 June 2019), but her reviews are thoughtful and detailed. Plus, she likes Georgette Heyer which is always a plus.

What the Log Had To Say

Wendy trained as a publisher, and is committed to diverse books. She reviews widely, but also blogs about mental health issues and LGBTQ+ representation in a thoughtful, detailed way.

LGBTQ Reads

A blog dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ works. This is not a review site, but a place to find information on new and upcoming releases which feature LGBTQ+ representation across a range of genres and age groups.

 

REVIEWS

The Captive Prince Trilogy (and a bit)

This was one of the first works I reviewed on this blog. The first book in the series is one that has a lot of issues – it front-loads a lot of rape culture and presents an uncomfortable comparison of sub/dom relationships against actual slavery, but as the books progress it becomes a love story between Laurent and Damen set against a backdrop of political power-plays and international tensions. If you have triggers, I would approach with caution.

The Binding

Released at the very start of 2019, the fact that this book is a MLM book was kept very quiet – it’s mentioned nowhere on the cover, or in any marketing communications (you’d think Pride would be the perfect time to promote this). There is some homophobia within this book – in fact, it presents the main plot device – so perhaps be aware of that when reading, but otherwise enjoy the romance at the centre of the story.

The Long Way To a Small Angry Planet

Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series is held up by many as a peak of diverse casts and addressing key issues in society through the mode of Science Fiction. This first in the series has bi/pansexual characters, and addresses themes of polyamory and asexuality, whilst also considering racism and xenophobia.

Girls of Paper and Fire

This book made a big noise when it was released last year, and the sequel is due out later in 2019. A WLW romance set against a backdrop of an Asian-inspired high fantasy novel, it deals with oppression, caste systems, and rape. There are trigger warnings all over the book, and the author also provides resources for people who may be affected by the content.

Legend of Korra: Turf Wars

The Legend of Korra made a big noise when it had Korra ride into the sunset with Asami at the end of the series, and this comic continuation allows them to be explicit with the relationship. As well as being able to show physical affection between the two without upsetting censors, this book also has a scene where Korra and Asami come out to Korra’s parents, and a discussion with another character who is confirmed as gay, which provides an overview of same-sex relationships throughout the history of the different nations.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

This isn’t a romance. It isn’t really a Sci-Fi. But the narrative character is confirmed as a bisexual woman, and has relationships with two different women during the narrative. As characters go, she’s a pretty awful person, but the fact that her sexuality is such a casual part of the narrative is great to see. There are some comments on bisexual erasure (either you’re gay or you’re not, etc), but otherwise the relationships add colour to the life of the narrative.

The Priory of the Orange Tree

This is a huge and epic fantasy novel, set between various kingdoms and dealing with the threat of dragons, whilst also dealing with cultural difference between types of dragon (Western fire dragons which are destructive, vs Eastern water dragons which are wise and benevolent). With numerous narrative voices, you have several plot strands. One involves a WLW relationship between the narrative character and the woman she is tasked to protect; the other is the voice of a gay man who is grieving for his long-dead lover and has been exiled. These relationships are not the focus of the story, but they are integral to the tale, justifying the character decisions and defining the relationships and events which follow.

Holiday

Whilst this is a bit of seasonal smut for Christmas, it also has canonically bisexual characters, having a dang good time without being shamed for it.

The Psychology of Time Travel

This is a Sci-Fi murder mystery above anything else, but one of the narrative characters is a gay woman, and you see her life, love, and relationships build and develop as the story moves on. Ruby is a great character, and her romance is sweet and sad at the same time – but not in a ‘bury your gays‘ sort of way, just in the way that life can be full and happy, but also has to come to an end, and time travel can make that a little messier.

Mirror Mirror

I’ll be honest, I didn’t love this book. I felt it laboured too hard at making a twist out of something which didn’t need to be a twist, but the fact remains it is a book that has strong LGBTQ+ representation (although the exact limits of what is being represented here are unclear – whether the character is a lesbian who eschews traditional femininity, or whether they are genderqueer or trans is never addressed). There are triggers to be aware of, however, with homophobic language used, and a mystery framed around suicide and sexual trafficking of teenage girls.

The Gender Games

Written by trans author Juno Dawson (who has received critical acclaim for her YA fiction), this book deals with her transition, cultural attitudes towards gender and gender boundaries, and also her experiences with gay culture before her transition. I found it a fascinating and enjoyable read, and Dawson is an excellent guide through what can often be a sensitive and tricky subject.

The Testament of Loki

This was another book which wasn’t quite for me, but there were things there which I can see others enjoying. In this, Loki inhabits the body of a girl who turns out to be a closeted lesbian – and then he essentially outs her, which isn’t ideal. Jumps, the girl in question, does embrace the confidence Loki imbues her with after her initial outrage, but at the same time whilst she is physically there and providing commentary on the events of the book, she is also largely a vessel for Loki so perhaps her presence doesn’t have the weight it could have. There are also trigger warnings worth noting for self-harm and eating disorders.

The Raven Cycle

Another early entry from this blog, whilst the primary romance in these books is heterosexual, there is a wonderful and fleshed out side story across the four novels dealing with the relationship between Ronan and Adam. I was delighted to hear Stiefvater was writing a further trilogy focusing on Ronan, as this will hopefully also give more time to his relationship with Adam and see that growing. I will note some triggers for parental abuse, particularly in the earlier books.

 

Happy Pride everyone!!

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