At the end of June 1969 a series of demonstrations occurred by members of the LGBTQIA+ community at the Stonewall Inn located in Manhattan in New York City. The actions taken herein would go on to become the defining moment of the Gay Rights Liberation movement and would pave the path for contemporary LGBTQIA+ rights in the US. This entire movement would not have been possible without Marsha P. Johnson, who was a Black trans woman, and Stormé DeLarverie, a Black lesbian. They were the first people to rise up against the gross oppression of the Queer community’s rights during the era, particularly where police brutality and abuse are concerned. If not for them, then modern LGBTQIA+ rights would not exist.
To honour this profound moment in the community’s history, a month-long commemoration was enacted in June, known as Pride Month, so that we may never forget where these liberties come from, how much change has occurred, and how much of the battle for equality remains.
As a disabled Trans Queer Person of Colour, I wanted to show my support and respect for this community to the best of my ability. Every week on Tuesday during the month of June, I shall be highlighting books by and about Queer individuals, all of whom are Authors of Colour.
Additionally, I shall also be reading and reviewing Queer books exclusively for the next four and a half weeks as well. To help focus my reading, I have created a tentative To-Be-Read list with books I either already own or was able to obtain with relative ease via my local library, all of which are shared below with direct links to their respective GoodReads pages via the titles.
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan – A YA Contemporary about a young girl named Leila who has avoided harbouring feelings for anyone at her school, Armstead Academy. Being an Iranian-American ostracises her enough as it is. However, when a beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up at her school, Leila begins to live a little bit more. Confiding in her dearest confidantes about mixed signals that she receives from Saskia, Leila is surprised to learn that many of her classmates are far more complex than she ever dreamed as they have secrets of their very own they are protecting.
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan: A YA Contemporary about seventeen-ear-old Sahar who is in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They have shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, and even executed. So, they carry on in secret until Nasrin’s parents suddenly announce that they have arranged for her marriage. Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution: homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. Sahar will never be able to love Nasrin in the body she wants to be loved in without risking their lives, but is saving their love worth sacrificing her true self?
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust: A YA fantasy, fairy tale re-imagining that follows sixteen-year-old Mina who is motherless and a victim of abuse from her magician father, thus preventing her from every harbouring love for another—something she perceived to be normal. However, when her father cuts her heart out and replaces it with one of glass, she’s astounded. When she moves to Whitespring Castle, she realises she has found an avenue for escape, so long as she can seduce the king into marrying her. The only catch is that Mina shall have to become a stepmother. Meanwhile, fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother. When she discovers why, Lynet realises that instead of being a duplicate of a dead woman, she would much rather be fierce and regal like her stepmother, Mina. When Mina starts looking at Lynet with something akin to hatred, Lynet must figure out to win back the only mother she’s ever known or to defeat her once and for all.
The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde: A YA contemporary about a teenage drummer in a popular rock band, Emmy King has what some would believe to be the perfect life until an evening of partying lands her in the tabloids as a train wreck. Her bandmates and friends help her clean up the pieces, including the devilishly handsome Alfie. Even though Emmy knows that hooking up with a bandmate is a terrible idea, her and Alfie cannot seem to keep their hands off one another. Will Emmy fall victim to another clickbait scandal, or shall she have the strength to stand on her own?
The Fever King by Victoria Lee: A YA science-fiction novel that takes place in the former US. Sixteen-year-old Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed as the sole survivor of a viral magic outbreak that killed his entire family and turned him into a technopath. His unique new abilities attracts unwanted attention from the minister of defence. Meanwhile, the son of undocumented immigrants, Noam, has spent his entire life fighting for the rights of refugees trying to flee magical outbreaks. Sensing a means to make changes, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind the magic, with the goal of secretly using said information in his fight against the government.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan: In this richly developed YA fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it is Lei they are after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumoured beauty has piqued the king’s interest. Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable: she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she is willing to go for justice and revenge.
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman: Rumi Seto is a young lady who faces a lot of uncertainty in her life. The only thing she knows for sure is that she wants to write music with her young sister, Lea. Then Lea dies in a car accident and her mother sends her away to live in Hawai’i with her aunt. Thousands of miles away from the only place she ever called home, Rumi must confront her struggles with the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother during a time of great grief, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the boy next door, Kai, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe who succumbed to his own grief years ago, Rumi attempts to find her way back to music so that she may write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.
Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu: Lucky and her husband, Krishna, are gay. They concoct this illusion of marital bliss for their conservative Sri-Lankan-American families, while dating other people on the side. Then Lucky’s grandmother has a terrible fall, and she returns to her childhood home, where she connects with her first lover, Nisha, who is preparing to get married to a guy. As their connection deepens, Lucky tries to save Nisha from doing something that goes against what she believes in. But can Nisha be saved? Does Lucky have the right to help Nisha when she is in her own sticky situation, one filled to the brim with lies?
A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian: In the tight-knit community known as Heaven—a ramshackle slum hidden between luxury high-rises in Bangalore, India—five girls on the cusp of womanhood forge an unbreakable bond. Muslim, Christian, and Hindu; Queer and straight; they are full of life, and they love and accept one another unconditionally. Whatever they have, they share. These marginalised women are determined to transcend their surroundings. When the local government threatens to demolish their homes in order to build a shopping mall, the girls and their mothers refuse to be erased. Together they wage war on the bulldozers sent to bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that wishes that families like them would remain hidden forever.
The list became a bit ambitious as I was putting it together, however, I am excited for each of the titles shared. There is great variety here with Queer representations as well as with cultural and ethnic identities, and I look forward to discussing them on The Djinn Reader throughout the month of June. Whatever I am not able to finish, I shall add to my July TBR. If you have any Queer books that you are anticipating or have loved with all your heart, please share them in the comments! I am always on the lookout for new LGBTQIA+ books.