LGBTQI+ Pride Month Recommended Reading: Clifton Public Library List for Adult and Young Adult Readers


June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month, a time to not only commemorate the Stonewall uprising that helped launch the LGBTQI+ movement in June 1969 but also to celebrate and recognize LGBTQI+ communities.

President Biden issued a A Proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Pride Month, 2023 stating:

“During Pride Month, we honor a movement that has grown stronger, more vibrant, and more inclusive with every passing year. Pride is a celebration of generations of LGBTQI+ people, who have fought bravely to live openly and authentically. And it is a reminder that we still have generational work to do to ensure that everyone enjoys the full promise of equity, dignity, protection, and freedom.

Today, our Nation faces another inflection point. In 2023 alone, State and local legislatures have already introduced over 600 hateful laws targeting the LGBTQI+ community. Books about LGBTQI+ people are being banned from libraries. Transgender youth in over a dozen States have had their medically necessary health care banned. Homophobic and transphobic vitriol spewed online has spilled over into real life, as armed hate groups intimidate people at Pride marches and drag performances, and threaten doctors’ offices and children’s hospitals that offer care to the LGBTQI+ community. Our hearts are heavy with grief for the loved ones we have lost to anti-LGBTQI+ violence.

Despite these attacks, the LGBTQI+ community remains resilient. LGBTQI+ Americans are defiantly and unapologetically proud. Youth leaders are organizing walkouts at high schools and colleges across the country to protest discriminatory laws. LGBTQI+ young people and their parents are demonstrating unimaginable courage by testifying in State capitols in defense of their basic rights.

They are not alone: My entire Administration stands proudly with the LGBTQI+ community in the enduring struggle for freedom, justice, and equality.”

The Clifton Main Memorial Library has curated a Pride Month reading list for The Clifton Times, which features a wide range of books recommended for adult and young adult readers, selected by Supervising Librarian Pat Ferro. The decision was made to include recommendations for Young Adult readers as this is the group that is most often targeted for book bans and other censorship. We have included a link to each book’s publisher with a brief summary from the publishers’ websites. You can stop by the Clifton Main Memorial Library to see their display and stop by either the Main Memorial Library or the Allwood Branch to pick up one of these titles. Patrons can also place holds on any of these books through PALS Plus.

Young Adult Fiction

Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan. Based on true events—and narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS—Two Boys Kissing follows Harry and Craig, two seventeen-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teens dealing with universal questions of love, identity, and belonging.

Lakelore – Anna-Marie McLemore. The first time Bastián meets Lore, they’re children. Lore escapes their bullies and collides with Bastián at the shores of a local lake. Bastián takes Lore to a hidden world under the surface, one that no one has seen in years. The land under the lake has shifted from reality to legend to lore as far as the rest of the town is concerned. Years later, the two meet again when Lore’s family abruptly relocates to the lakeside town to escape the consequences of something terrible Lore did. Lakelore lives in intersectionality. It’s not about just being Latinx or just being neurodivergent or just being trans/nonbinary. It’s about being all at once; it’s about the way those identities overlap, blend together, and alter each other. Lore’s dyslexia overlaps with their nonbinary-ness which overlaps with their brownness in ways they’re keenly aware of.

This is Why They Hate Us – Aaron H. Aceves. This is Why They Hate Us is a lyrical story of queer longing, romance, and true friendship, which looks at the anxious pains of growing up with humor and heart. It's rare to find a book as achingly, tenderly honest as This Is Why They Hate Us, or a narrator as painfully relatable as Quique Luna.

Young Adults Non-Fiction

Gender Identity: Beyond Pronouns And Bathrooms - Maria Cook. In Gender Identity: Beyond Pronouns and Bathrooms, middle and high schoolers explore the spectrum of the LGBTQI+ movement through the lenses of history, media, and culture, with a particular focus on transgender rights and the rights of gender-variant people. Through essential questions, primary sources, and investigative projects, readers develop a comprehensive understanding of the history of the struggle for equal rights for all genders. Gender Identity is part of a set of four books called Inquire & Investigate Social Issues of the Twenty-First Century, which explores the social challenges that have faced our world in the past and that continue to drive us to do better in the future. Other titles in this set are Feminism, Immigration Nation, and Race Relations and Civil Rights.

“You’re in the Wrong Bathroom!” : And 20 Other Myths And Misconceptions About Transgender And Gender Nonconforming People - Laura Erickson-Schroth et al. From Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner to Thomas Beatie (“the pregnant man”) and transgender youth, coverage of trans lives has been exploding—yet so much misinformation persists. Bringing together the medical, social, psychological, and political aspects of being trans in the United States today, “You’re in the Wrong Bathroom!”: And 20 Other Myths About Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming People unpacks the twenty-one most common myths and misconceptions about transgender and gender-nonconforming people. Authors Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD, a psychiatrist, and Laura A. Jacobs, LCSW-R, a psychotherapist, address a range of fallacies.

The ABC’s of LGBT+ - Ash Hardell. Ash Hardell, one of the most trusted voices on YouTube, presents a detailed look at all things LGBTQI+ in this remarkable book. Along with in-depth definitions, personal anecdotes, helpful infographics, resources, and more, Hardell’s LGBTQI+ book is proof it does get better every day in a world where people are empowered by information and understanding.

Adult Non-Fiction

Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked A Movement - David K. Johnson. In 1951, a new type of publication appeared on newsstands—the physique magazine produced by and for gay men. For many men growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, these magazines and their images and illustrations of nearly naked men, as well as articles, letters from readers, and advertisements, served as an initiation into gay culture. This network of producers and consumers helped foster a gay community and upend censorship laws, paving the way for open expression. Buying Gay reconceives the history of the gay rights movement and shows how consumer culture helped create a community and a site for resistance.

Secret City: The Hidden History Of Gay Washington - James Kirchick. For decades, the specter of homosexuality haunted Washington. The mere suggestion that a person might be gay destroyed reputations, ended careers, and ruined lives. At the height of the Cold War, fear of homosexuality became intertwined with the growing threat of international communism, leading to a purge of gay men and lesbians from the federal government. Based on thousands of pages of declassified documents, interviews with over one hundred people, and material unearthed from presidential libraries and archives around the country, Secret City illuminates how homosexuality shaped each successive presidential administration through the end of the twentieth century.

Counseling Transgender Youth: The Essential Guide - Irwin Krieger. This guide sets out clear advice and support for counselors and therapists to transgender and non-binary teens in their practice, while providing the necessary tools for opening up the conversation on transgender issues in families and schools. Along with the basic information needed to understand transgender clients, Krieger applies this general knowledge to work with transgender teens at what can be the most critical and problematic stage in a trans person’s life.

Global Gay: How Gay Culture Is Changing The World - Frédéric Martel. In Global Gay, Frédéric Martel visits more than fifty countries and documents a revolution underway around the world: the globalization of LGBTQI+ rights. From Saudi Arabia to South Africa, from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv, from Singapore to the United States, activists, culture warriors, and ordinary people are part of a movement. Martel finds that although the “gay American way of life” has created a global template for gay activism and culture, each country offers distinctly local variations. And around the world, the status of gay rights has become a measure of a country’s democracy and modernity.

The Riddle of Gender: Science, Activism, And Transgender Rights - Deborah Rudacille. Informed not only by meticulous research, but also by Rudacille’s interviews with prominent members of the transgender community, The Riddle of Gender is a sympathetic and wise look at a sexual revolution that calls into question many of our most deeply held assumptions about what it means to be a man, a woman, and a human being. Coming at the controversial subject of transgenderism from several angles–historical, sociological, psychological, and medical–Rudacille discovers that gender variance is anything but new.

Autobiographies, Biographies, and Memoirs:

We Are Not Broken – George M. Johnson This is the vibrant story of George, Garrett, Rall, and Rasul — four children raised by Nanny, their fiercely devoted grandmother. The boys hold each other close through early brushes with racism, memorable experiences at the family barbershop, and first loves and losses. And with Nanny at their center, they are never broken. Johnson’s previous book, All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir Manifesto reflected on their life growing up queer in Virginia and New Jersey. In We Are Not Broken, their second memoir, Johnson chooses to write about everyday experiences that serve to remind us that queer children are children. Johnson captures the unique experience of growing up as a Black boy in America through rich family stories for young adults that explore themes of vulnerability, sacrifice, and culture, but also joy.

Dance or Die – Ahmad Joudeh. Dance Or Die is an autobiographical coming-of-age account of Ahmad Joudeh, a young refugee who grows up in Damascus with dreams of becoming a dancer. When he is recruited by one of Syria’s top dance companies, neither bombs nor family opposition can keep him from taking classes, practicing hard, and becoming a Middle Eastern celebrity on a Lebanese reality show. A powerful look at refugee life in Syria, Dance Or Die tells of the pursuit of personal expression in the most dangerous of circumstances and of the power of art to transcend war and suffering.

Pride & Joy: LGBTQ Artists, Icons, And Everyday Heroes - Kathleen M. Archambeau. Award-winning writer and longtime LGBTQI+ activist Kathleen Archambeau tells the untold stories from diverse LGBTQI+ community voices around the corner or around the world. This book highlights queer people living open, happy, fulfilling, and successful lives. Pride & Joy is a window into the LGBTQI+ community for straight friends, allies, parents, and families of this finally emerging marginalized group. There’s hope that, in the words of Dan Savage, “It Gets Better.”

If you know of other wonderful books that celebrate LGBTQI+ contributions and spotlight LGBTQI+ people and their stories, history, and culture, please leave their titles and authors as a comment here for others to see.

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