Celebrate LGBT+ History Month with these essential reads


Throughout history the stories of people of colour have largely been ignored, especially so when it comes to queer people of colour. Our stories have been cast aside and swept under the rug, and where it hasn’t – there has been very little commentary on the representation of LGBTQIA characters. Here, I have compiled a list of my favourite books by queer authors of colour. These are not exactly under the radar as many of them have received exceptional critical acclaim, but I don’t believe there is ever a point where we should stop celebrating our stories.

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Now, excuse me if I seem a little extreme in saying this, but every piece of writing I have read by James Baldwin have caused some monumental shift in my life. He is one of the greatest literary minds I’ve ever read, so I’m recommending Giovanni’s Room but don’t stop there as none of his works disappoint. Giovanni’s Room is the story of David – an American in 1950s Paris who is determined to live a conventional life. He meets a young woman who he proposes to, but ends up having an intense affair with an Italian bartender called Giovanni. This is a stunning narrative of love, passion, repression and desire.

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

“I remember how being young and Black and gay and lonely felt. A lot of it was fine, feeling I had the truth and the light and the key, but a lot of it was purely hell.”

This book is categorised as an biomythography – meaning that it blends biography, history, and mythology. It is the first novel I ever read where the life of a Black lesbian was central, and it meant all the more to me to know that the text was derived from Audre Lorde’s life. When I was younger, it served as a sign that I could be Black and lesbian and still lead a full life. Reading Zami was the first time that I knew I was not alone in my experiences, and the poetic quality of Audre’s writing makes it difficult to ever forget her words.

Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai

Published in 1994, Shyam Selvadurai’s debut novel tells the story of Arjie, a young Tamil boy growing up and starting to understand his sexuality. The story is set against the political tensions in Sri Lanka in the seven years leading up to the 1983 riots. Shyam’s writing beautifully expresses the young boy’s loss of innocence, and how as he grows older it becomes more difficult to embrace his desires.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Do you know that feeling when you’re knee-deep in a novel and the real world falls away around you? After a very long reading slump, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous provided me with that feeling. Ocean Vuong brings his poetic language to this novel, and so, every emotion that he paints across the novel is felt intensely by the reader. For a long time after I read this, I could still feel the impact of his story. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is an experience that you need to have.

Surge by Jay Bernard

Surge is a collection of poetry by non-binary poet Jay Bernard. This collection addresses the New Cross Fire of 1981 alongside the more recent Grenfell fire. Each poem calls out in anger, in grief, and in passion for readers to bear witness to the pain that Black people in the UK have had to endure. This striking collection blends the past and present, and the personal and political. Surge was instrumental in broadening my own understanding of Black British history, and encouraging me to pay attention to my political voice.

DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQIA media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable. 



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