30/06/23 • News & Happenings

The LGBTQIA+ Experience in Literature

Blog for Pride Month 2023

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At Lighthouse, we believe that stories have the power to inspire and unite. Every second Thursday, our Book Keepers’ Club meets to put the world to rights. Instead of prescribing a specific book to read before each meeting, we set a talking point, or theme. Everyone shares a favourite book connected with the theme, and we each get a chance to discover new and diverse characters, cultures, and experiences. Discussions often get lively as we explore how the theme extends beyond its representation within the pages of the books we hold dear.  

This week, the theme for our book club was the LGBTQIA+ experience. The literary works we shared with each other not only delve into the challenges faced by the community but also celebrate its triumphs, love stories, and journeys of self-discovery. 

Here are today’s recommendations! 

On ConnectionKae Tempest 
“Kae Tempest is a beat poet from the UK whose book On Connection is an essay on how creativity can help us connect with people. Drawing from their personal experiences in life, Tempest explores the creative process frankly and introspects on how creativity is an essential antidote for this distracted and disconnected age.” – Christine

The Transgender IssueAn Argument for JusticeShon Faye 
The Transgender Issue is the first book from British activist and writer, Shon Faye. I wanted to mention this book as, although I haven’t yet finished reading it, I think it raises awareness and sheds light on issues that are currently very relevant to the Trans community all across the globe. One such point Faye makes protests the current trend of sensationalising the Transgender experience – media tends to gloss over the human aspect of Trans issues, which leads to the reality that what it means to be Trans is often misrepresented.” – Christine

Hani & Ishu’s Guide to Fake DatingAdiba Jaigirdar   

Hani & Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating is set in Ireland and features two Queer girls who pretend to be each other’s girlfriend for different reasons. I think the thing I really love about this book is that there are a bunch of young adult tropes thrown into the story. I think this is important, because there’s hundreds of ‘enemies to lovers’ and ‘forced dating’ trope books with straight subjects, and Queer people deserve to see themselves represented in well-loved Y/A fiction too.  In this book, the tropes are executed well, and it ultimately becomes a story about two young girls who, despite the lack of acceptance they face from their family/peers, still love one another and find some self-confidence. There’s this bookshop in London called ‘Gay is the Word’ that has an amazing collection of stories with an LGBTQ+ focus. I highly recommend checking it out!” – Neasa 

Cemetery Boys Aiden Thomas

“This book is a fantasy young adult novel about a young Trans man growing up as part of a Latin American family of brujas and brujos. Brujas have the power to heal the living while brujos have the ability to send spirits to their final resting place, with these roles strictly linked to gender – the brujas are female and the brujos are males. Yadriel is expected to grow up bruja, but all he wants is to be a brujo like his father and brothers. He performs the ceremony to become a brujo and is endowed with the powers of the men in his family. Despite their outward acceptance of Yadriel’s transition, his family still try to encourage him to become a healer. It’s a fresh take on a story about coming out and how families, while supportive on the surface, can act in harmful ways.” – Amy

CarmillaSheridan Le Fanu

“I wanted to mention this book, although I haven’t read it, as it pre-dates Dracula by a couple of decades and the vampire/human romance at the centre of the story is Lesbian. I was chatting to Amy about the book, and she said something super interesting about how at the time it was perhaps written as a cautionary tale of the supposedly predatory nature of Lesbianism but now is received and reimagined in modern ways as a typical vampire-romance that happens to be Queer. KindaTV’s YouTube series inspired by the novella does this in a charming and uncomplicated way, shifting the setting to a current-century American-style college and giving the character of Laura a lot more agency. I think though, where the series is lighter and contains more cartoon-ish shenanigans and humour, whilst dealing with some dark themes, the book seems to encapsulate that dramatic, forlorn, gothic tragedy that defines the genre, and I’m looking forward to reading it. I expect I may enjoy it the same way I did Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre – Only this time, the goths are Gay!” – Katie

The Winged HistoriesSofia Samatar 

“Whenever people ask do I have a favourite book, I say no, and then afterwards I’ll remember this book. It’s a beautifully written low fantasy tale set across several cities. At its heart you have four women, one of whom, a noble-turned-warrior, falls in love with a female poet musician from the same nomad tribe as her. Their romance is only one tiny mosaic piece in this giant tapestry of war and rebellion. It’s my favourite piece of writing in the world, and I don’t say that lightly.” – Lynn 

Dread Nation Justina Ireland 

“Dread Nation is a book is about zombies set in the American Civil War era. Under the Negro and Native Reeducation Act, Jane must attend a school to learn how to defend white people from zombies. While there, she meets Katherine, and the two rivals develop an unlikely friendship. It’s a story with themes of racial discrimination that unfolds around two central characters, one of whom is Bisexual and the other Asexual.” – Polly

Queer X Design Andy Campbell

Queer Print in EuropeGlyn Davis

Queer X Design is a study of brand identity and logo design that centres on Queer experience, while Queer Print in Europe is a geopolitical archive of how political movements start within different cultures. The two books share the visual interpretation of the topic but while one just shares the overall technical approach to design, the topic of the other one is more a history on the propaganda of the movement with their own national issues in their countercultural push” – Luca

Priory of the Orange TreeSamantha Shannon

“There are several characters in this novel who are LGBTQ+, and I really like how it’s normalised throughout the book, never the main theme. I always think it makes it more natural when authors write the story around the subject, not the other way around.” – Nathalie

Other books mentioned:  

Dowry of Blood – S.T. Gibson 

Exciting Times – Naoise Dolan 

Girls Can Kiss Now – Gill Gutowitz 

We hope you enjoyed this blog – stay ‘tooned’ for further recommendations!

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