LGBT Book Recommendations

Today I wanted to do some recommendations of books featuring LGBTQ+ themes – after all what is a queer book blog without queer book recommendations?

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli – 2015

Rep: Gay

Simon Spier is a closeted, gay, 16-year-old student in his junior year of high school with a fondness for musical theater who lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Unbeknownst to his family and friends, Simon has been sending e-mails to a person going by the name of “Blue”, Simon himself using the pseudonym “Jacques”. As the two become closer, however, Simon’s secret suddenly falls under siege; the e-mails sent between him and Blue are threatened to be released if he doesn’t play wingman for Martin, the class clown, and coerce his friend Abby into falling in love with him. Now, his sexual orientation and the privacy of him and his enigmatic digital confidant could possibly be compromised. Simon must find a way to step out of his comfort zone, before he is pushed out, and before he loses Blue, who only grows more flirtatious by the day, and who Simon, whether by choice or not, is on the cusp of encountering in person. (Wikipedia)

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Review: Heartstopper – Alice Oseman – LGBT Webcomic

Summary:

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

My Thoughts:

I love Alice Oseman for creating this webcomic! In a world of very little bi rep, I want to see more Nicks with loving partners regardless of their gender.

The comic is told between both Nick and Charlie’s point of view, and especially in the first few chapters we see moments of them both together, as well as on their own to examine how their background may influence the romance. Charlie is an out gay boy who was previously bullied after being outed, while Nick is a rugby player who is just coming to realise his sexual orientation.

My favourite storyline is that of Nick – especially in the second and third chapters. Alice does such a great job of showing the confusion that many bi people go through when they have that first crush on someone of the same sex, and I love that Charlie is accepting and willing to help Nick understand the feelings he’s experiencing. There is a part where Nick is googling about feelings for both genders and honestly, which bisexual hasn’t done this when trying to figure out what’s going on.

Credits: Alice Oseman https://tapas.io/episode/705269

My favourite scene from the comic is Nick and Charlie’s first kiss (such a sweet moment!) The comic doesn’t have a focus on homophobia (besides a few background subplots) but this first kiss tells you everything about how homophobia (even incidental) has shaped these two characters. At the same time though, the style of the comic softens these issues and you’re just reading about two people falling in love.

We’re currently well into chapter 5 as I write this review, a chapter which includes a story around Charlie and his eating disorder. While this could be triggering to some readers, Alice is really clear at the start of each post if there’s material that could potentially trigger a reader. I love how over the comic we have flipped from Charlie helping Nick with his sexuality and how we see Nick struggle to know how to help Charlie with his ED. This feels so realistic to anyone who’s been there as a loved one copes with mental health issues, feeling helpless but wanting them to know that they are there for them.

I also really like reading about Charlie’s group of friends, including lesbian couple Tara and Darcy, and my personal favourite Elle, a trans student who previously went to Charlie’s school – her budding romance with Tao is so sweet.

If you’re looking for a soft romance story between two adorable boys and their group of awesome friends, definitely check out Heartstopper – it will lighten your lockdown mood!

You can read Heartstopper free here on Tapas or buy a hardcopy of volumes 1, 2, or 3 from Waterstones, Amazon and Book Depository.

My favourite LGBT+ Youtubers

Whether you watch Youtube for entertainment purposes or because you want to educate yourself more on a topic, there are some brilliant LGBT+ Youtubers that deserve to be celebrated. Some of these channels have taught me a lot about issues I was previously ignorant about, while others are just fun to watch. I’d love to hear about your favourite queer youtubers.

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Recommendations: LGBT short films

Short films are something I don’t normally think to watch until they come up on my Youtube recommended, but there are some truly beautiful films out there to be enjoyed. I wanted to highlight five of my favourites today – if you have any recommendations, I’d love to see them in the comments below!

In a Heartbeat – Beth David and Esteban Bravo

This video has been watched over 42 million times since it was released in 2017 so if you haven’t seen it already, where have you been?! The thing I love about this movie is that there are no words, so it can be enjoyed by people of any language.

The Real Thing – Brandon Kelley

A beautiful film about a father/soldier coming home from duty to find that his daughter has started her transition. Again, this tells a powerful story in only two words which is incredible. If you don’t cry, you’re a stronger person than me!

Son of a Preacher Man – Tom Goss

Basically a music video for Tom Goss singing the classic “Son of a Preacher Man, with a boy who falls in love with the son of the local preacher, despite the preacher’s homophobic attitudes.

Standing up for your Best Friend – Peccadillo Pictures

How could I not have a Peccadillo Pictures short on this list? I love a lot of their films, and their Youtube channel has a playlist dedicated to their shorts. This one follows a guy who finds out his best friend is gay and has to decide if he’s going to stick by his friend and risk receiving homophobia himself, or turn his back to keep his “reputation.”

Prom Night – Jenna Larson

A sweet film about a closeted girl who has to make a decision at prom – go along with the heteronormative prom queen image or be out and proud with her girlfriend.

The bi book tag

So, I was searching for pride book tags and came across The Bi Book Tag on Books with Leo’s booktube. I think this is the first tag I’ve seen focused on the bi+ community, so I knew straight away I wanted to do it! To any bi readers and allies, I’d love to see your answer to these questions.

Confusion: a lot of people think bisexuals are just confused (spoiler alert: we’re not) but sometimes sexuality can be a confusing thing when you are just figuring it out. Name a book character who is also going through a journey of figuring things out.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

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Eleanor Oliphant is one of the most relatable characters I’ve read in fiction. Her journey with mental health, loneliness and friendship is beautiful and I loved this book.

First crush: the first queer crush. Name a book with a character in it that totally made you swoon.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Wikipedia

The first book character I remember having a crush on was Remus Lupin – it’s like a safe version of those embarrassing teacher crushes. Remus is still one of my favourite characters from the series.

Coming out: that moment when you’re ready to acknowledge your sexuality. Name a book that made you want to scream and gush on the top of your lungs about to everyone you know!

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

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This is one of my favourite cosy mystery books and definitely my favourite out of this series so far. I know a lot of people guessed the reveal of this book, but I loved how it all fit together.

Recognition: unfortunately, bi erasure is still a thing. Name a book that made you feel seen and valued, understood.

Rainbow Boys – Alex Sanchez

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Rainbow Boys was the first book I remember reading with a bisexual character. Looking back it’s not such a great book (bi-erasure, not the best writing…) but it helped to read about a character who felt the way I did. I still don’t think there’s much good bi rep in fiction unfortunately so let me know if you have any recommendations.

50/50: sexuality is fluid and so is bisexuality- almost no one is fifty fifty. Name a book about which you’re unsure whether you love or hate it- your own not fifty fifty opinion wise.

The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides

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I think I built this thriller up too much in my head – by the time I read it, I just thought it was OK despite the fact that everyone else seems to love it. I’d like to read it again with a fresh perspective to see if my thoughts have changed, but I think it has the sort of ending that would make that impossible.

Community: finding your place in a community can be hard- sometimes I feel like I’m too gay for the straight people and too straight for the gay people- but in the end it’s all about finding the right people in life that love you- sexuality doesn’t define you. Name a book with an amazing group of friends/community.

It – Stephen King

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Something I didn’t know about Stephen King until I started reading his books is that he writes amazing characters (even if some of them are really unlikeable!) The Losers’ Club from It are one example of a group of friends I’d really love to be part of (apart from the whole killer-clown thing…) and King does a great job of writing a flawed set of characters you come to love over this mega-story.

Celebrating pride during lockdown

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote a blog post – to be honest, I think I fell out of love with blogging for a little while. But given the situation the world is in, and that one of my favourite events of the summer has been cancelled, I wanted to set myself a challenge. So every day this month I’m going to write a blog post with an LGBT theme to celebrate pride month.

Bisexual pride flag - Wikipedia

Today, I’m starting off with a few ways to celebrate pride, without actually being at a pride event. Let me know in the comments how you’re celebrating this month.

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