5 Books That Will Change Your Perspective of Queer Identities



If society is to truly accept and understand all kinds of people, we need to create a level platform in which all voices are equally listened to and respected.


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How many books by queer authors did you read at school or university? Literary texts studied in academic settings are predominately written by heterosexual cisgender people, unless specified otherwise for a particular module offering something outside of the perceived norm. Making queer texts more widely read and respected will enable queer people to feel part of 'normal' society, rather than something different from the status quo. How can we expect the next generation of queer people to feel safe, accepted, and valued, if people like them are not featured in mainstream media and literature? The following books are written by, or written about, queer people - but regardless of this, they are incredible works in their own right.




Giovanni’s Room (1956) by James Baldwin

Tackling identity and a sense of belonging, Baldwin’s novel presents an American man living in Paris who feels out of place both in his physical location and his sense of self. His reluctance to tear himself away from what is expected of him as an American man makes his journey to happiness difficult and frustrating. This short novel tells a heart wrenching yet beautiful love story between the narrator and Giovanni, fuelled with passion and tainted with fear and doubt.


A Little Life (2015) by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life follows a group of 4 friends living in New York from when they are in college to senior citizens, intricately relaying their dynamic and demonstrating the brutal reality of how friendship is snagged by love, jealousy, and previous trauma. Yanagihara writes in a beautiful way - using simplistic language to convey mundane and normal situations in such a delicate manner, transforming the ordinary into something thought provoking.

She centralises marginalised voices in her novel, giving us a chance at understanding a trauma most of us have luckily never experienced. You will be captivated by her words and stories, desperate to know more about the characters. They begin to feel like real people thanks to her detailed descriptions and the length of the novel.


Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (1985) by Jeanette Winterson

A semi autobiographical novel that tells the tale of a young girl raised in a strict Christian household, discovering her sexulity as she gets older. Heartwarming and humorous whilst dark and saddening, this novel will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Throughout the book there are fairy tale-like inserts, transporting the reader to an alternate universe, offering a poetic reading experience shifting between parallel worlds that shine light on each other.

Winterson resists being referred to as a lesbian author - but the tale of Jeanette is crucial to understanding the confusion and misunderstandings associated with lesbian and queer sexualities as a result of lack of education.


Virgin Territory (1985) by Sara Maitland

Maitland offers an interesting look into repressed lesbianism within Christian communities. The story follows Anna, a nun, through her denial and repression of her sexuality. Her journey is tumultuous and painful to read, yet crucial in understanding how lesbian woman have been shunned for their sexuality throughout history.

Maitland questions the concept of virginity and what it means: whether it is a positive or negative for women. She challenges how we have been conditioned to perceive virginity and femininity by society.


The Black Flamingo (2019) by Dean Atta

A coming of age verse novel that follows the story of a boy discovering his alternate persona at university when he joins drag society. Written as one long poem, the novel is a quick and compelling read - direct from the heart. Atta tackles issues of race, homophobia, friendship, family, and self identity, all whilst celebrating the beautiful power of drag to liberate people from their sorrows and discover their power.

Let’s work on celebrating the brilliant work by queer authors. We need to make an active effort to honour their narratives, voices, and ideas, to the same extent we have with cis gender heterosexual writers. For the children of tomorrow, equal representation (particularly in academic settings such as schools and universities) in literature is vital.



  + Words: 

Florenne Earle Ledger 
Luxiders Magazine