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Read These LGBTQ+ Stories by Black Authors for Pride

June 24, 2020 by Ali Bloomston
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With Black Lives Matter protests continuing across the country to combat police brutality, we are reminded that Pride Month was established to commemorate a rebellion against police brutality -— the Stonewall riots in New York City in June 1969.

In the words of James Baldwin, “The sexual question and the racial question have always been entwined” and it is crucial to amplify Black, LGBTQ+ voices — and not just during this Pride Month. Here are some intersectional books and plays to read to continue to be an anti-racist, LGBTQ+ ally. The links will lead you to a black-owned bookstore where you can purchase them!

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, Evaristo’s groundbreaking work explores the different lives of Black, British, LGBTQ+ women, their friends, families and lovers. A definite must-read for all of us during the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

A monumental novel for its time and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1983, The Color Purple has gone down in history for its forward-thinking themes and its female relationships. If you’re a fan of the smash-hit musical, then read of the novel that inspired it. 

Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney

McCraney, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter behind Moonlight, is also the mastermind behind this Tony-nominated play. Choir Boy is a coming-of-age story which follows a group of black students at Charles R. Drew Prep School for boys as they explore their sexual identities. Because it’s a play with music, we definitely encourage you to give the cast recording a listen after you read. 

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Baldwin’s mid-century novel was so radical for its time; his publisher said he should burn it so as not to alienate the Black audience he acquired with his hit novel Go Tell It on A Mountain. Baldwin, a gay, Black author, grapples with homosexuality, bisexuality, and masculinity in this groundbreaking work.

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

Lorde created a new genre in writing this work, which she named a “biomythography” which combines history, biography, and myth. Lorde’s coming-of-age story recalls the powerful female forces in her life and her sexual discovery through relationships. 

No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell L. Moore

When Moore was 14 years old, boys from his neighborhood cornered him, harassed him for being gay, poured gasoline on him, and attempted to set him on fire. Moore’s autobiography reflects on the three decades that transpired since, and how the terrified teenager became an award-winning writer and a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

If you haven’t read this brilliant collection of essays by Roxane Gay, you’re only six years behind the times, but it’s not too late. Gay, who identifies as bisexual, reminisces on her evolution as a Black woman, and lends her critical eye to the ways that the culture we consume defines us in this New York Times bestseller.

Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by C. Reily Snorton

For readers looking for a fascinating scholarly work, this thorough investigation into the intersections between race and trans identity from the mid-nineteenth century to present day is a don’t-miss read.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

In this novel, a Queer, Black young man from Alabama starts college in a Midwestern university town, hoping to escape to a more accepting life but finding himself in a white, heteronormative academic space.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker by Damon Young

In this 16-essay memoir, Young describes in hilarious yet poignant detail just how exhausting it is to be black in America, and how his angst was exacerbated as he questioned his sexuality. His journey explores everything from “How should I react here, as a professional black person?” and “Will this white person’s potato salad kill me?” to the devastating realization that his mother may be alive today if she were white.