Chances are your English literature classes made you read novels focused on heterosexual white characters, and I’m here to tell you that you’ve been missing out. After taking a gay and lesbian literature class in college, I learned that there’s more to life than plain Janes and Christophers. Here are my three favorite LGBT- (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) focused books I had the privilege to read in a college-level course.
Tales Of The City
Written by American author, Armistead Maupin, Tales of The City focuses on a diverse group of people living on 28 Barbary Lane within the city of San Francisco. The book is told from the perspective of nearly ten main characters, and it focuses on their individual struggles with sexual identity, romance, success and everything else in between.
The best part about this book is that it focuses on bisexuals, gays, straights, and lesbians; it provides a unique insight into a realistic world: one that is sexually diverse and extremely unique. If you end up enjoying this novel, then think about investing in the sequel that follows. Maupin also published several books that focus on the individual lives of some of the main characters from the novel: Mary Ann, Anna Madrigal and Michael Tolliver.
Rating 4.3 out of 5
Rita Mae Brown’s first published novel, Ruby-fruit Jungle, was praised for its honesty about lesbianism in the early 70s. A lesbian herself, Brown was able to realistically craft the coming-of-age novel about an adopted, stubborn girl named Molly Bolt who becomes aware of her sexuality from an early age.
The novel follows Molly as she transforms from a poor, neglected child into an intelligent, stubborn lesbian who will do whatever it takes to make it into film school and to stay true to herself. Rubyfruit Jungle is the perfect mix of sex, feminism, counter-culture, civil rights and self-awareness.
Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
Jeanette Winterson published Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit in 1985, and it became a nationwide hit due to its depiction of an adopted girl, Jeanette, that struggles with her sexuality while being raised in a Pentecostal community. Winterson wrote the novel as a semi-autobiographical book as it relates to her own strict religious childhood and how it emotionally affected her journey to accepting her sexual orientation.
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit has everything you crave in it. The dynamics between religion and sexuality, mother and daughter, and self and identity are the driving factors of this highly acclaimed coming-of-age novel.
Rating: 3.9 out of 5
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
American author, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, crafted this beautiful coming-of-age novel that focuses on two Mexican-American boys in El Paso. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe focuses on Latin culture and how it intertwines with two boys discovering their blossoming sexualities.
The novel focuses on Dante and Aristotle, two high school boys, who meet at a community pool. The pages fly by and the book can be read in one sitting because of how encapsulating it is.
The discussions of race and sexuality and youth come to play in this exhilarating book that will have you in tears by the end.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5