Books & Literature

Celebrate LGBTQIA+ pride with these queer stories by queer voices

It’s Mardi Gras time, so here are our picks for great LGBTQIA+ stories, some of which have been read and reviewed by Glam Adelaide writers.

It’s Mardi Gras time, so celebrate LGBTQIA+ pride this month with these daring, diverse queer stories by queer voices.

See below for an extensive list of memoirs, short story collections, fiction and other extraordinary reads and listens. Tales range from proud Yuin man and Kylie Minogue-obsessed Gary Lonesborough’s debut novel, to the powerful memoir of Australia’s very own Magda Szubanski.

Fiction

Honeybee, by Craig Silvey

“Craig Silvey’s last novel, the multi-award winning Jasper Jones, was released 11 years ago and has since been reimagined as both a stage production and movie. Silvey returns with the emotional and emotive powerhouse story of a teen, Sam Watson, whose life is about to begin an extraordinary journey – Honeybee.”

Read our full review here.

If I Tell You, by Alicia Tuckerman

“Alex Summers has a secret – she’s gay. Luckily for Alex, she’s managed to conceal who she truly is for her entire life because, in a town like Two Creeks, being a lesbian is severely frowned upon. Enter Phoenix Stone: a rebel, quirky, different, a lesbian. Now it’s up to Alex to make a decision: will she finally come out, or will she withhold her true feelings until she can finally leave the simple-minded small town?”

Read our full review here.

Swimming in the Dark, by Tomasz Jedrowski

“It’s the early 80s in Poland. Under Soviet control, Warsaw is a full of brutal apartment blocks and enormous queues for basic food and services. Against this unlikely backdrop, university student Ludwik meets the enigmatic Janusz and they begin an affair. Although homosexuality is not technically illegal, it is frowned upon by authorities, so the two have to conduct their romance in secret.”

Read our full review here.

The Boy from the Mish by Gary Lonesborough

A funny and heart-warming coming-of-age story, set in a rural Australian community, about 17-year-old Jackson finding the courage to explore who he is, even if it scares him. Compelling, honest and beautifully written, The Boy from the Mish is about first love, identity and the superpower of self-belief.

Gary Lonesborough is a Yuin man, who grew up on the Far South Coast of NSW as part of a large and proud Aboriginal family. Growing up a massive Kylie Minogue and North Queensland Cowboys fan, Gary was always writing as a child and continued his creative journey when he moved to Sydney to study at film school. Gary has experience working in Aboriginal health, the disability sector (including experience working in the Youth Justice System) and the film industry. He was Bega Valley Shire Council Young Citizen of the Year, won the Patrick White Young Indigenous Writers’ Award and has received a Copyright Agency First Nations Fellowship.

Memorial by Bryan Washington

Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant and Benson’s a Black day care teacher, and they’ve been together for a few years – good years – but now they’re not sure why they’re still a couple. There’s the sex, sure and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other.

But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike’s immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realising he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

Brookhants School for Girls: infamous site of a series of tragic deaths more than a hundred years ago. Soon to be the subject of a controversial horror movie about the rumoured ‘Brookhants curse’: in the early 1900s, Brookhants students Flo and Clara fell madly in love, brought together by their obsession for a scandalous memoir. A few months later they were found dead in the woods, after a horrific wasp attack, the book lying next to their intertwined bodies. Three more grisly deaths followed before the school was forced to close. Now, the school’s doors are open once more. But as the crew of glamorous young actresses assemble to start filming, past and present begin to blur. And soon it’s impossible to tell quite where the curse ends and Hollywood begins…. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? 

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump-start her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late ’80s and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds – revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love – Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. 

Poetry

Dona Juanita and the Love of Boys, by Gabrielle Everall

“Dona Juanita and the Love of Boys is both challenging and rewarding. A feminized version of Don Juan, Dona is working through her memories of sexual trauma whilst negotiating the chicanes and corners of love, lust, and sexuality. Structured around five sections, each section advances the narrative through free verse, prose poetry and other forms. It is at once an easy and a difficult read, but never dull.”

Read our full review here.

Non-Fiction

Queer: A Graphic History, by Dr Meg-John Barker

“The text describes the development of queer theory and of normative binary differences in our culture and how they were/are presented as the usual, sometimes the only way to be. Although a serious topic, the book engages the reader through its wit and clever illustrations, which often make the point more clearly than pages of words might do.”

Read our full review here.

Colouring the Rainbow: Black Queer and Trans perspectives by various authors

“Twenty-two First Nations people reveal their inner reflections and outlooks on family and culture, identity and respect, homophobia, transphobia, racism and decolonisation, activism, art, performance and more, through life stories and essays. The contributors to this ground-breaking book not only record the continuing relevance of traditional culture and practices, they also explain the emergence of homonormativity within the context of contemporary settler colonialism.”

Read a full review here.

Peering Through: Sharing Decades of Queer Experiences, by various authors

“Peering Through is a fascinating anthology of queer stories through the ages, broken down into each decade and across each of its narrators. Intriguing, honest and heartbreaking at times, it is a personal look at the everyday queer community, as told by those who lived it.”

Read our full review here.

Growing up Queer in Australia, compiled by Benjamin Law

Compiled by celebrated author and journalist Benjamin Law, Growing Up Queer in Australia assembles voices from across the spectrum of LGBTIQA+ identity. Spanning diverse places, eras, genders, ethnicities and experiences, these are the stories of growing up queer in Australia. 

For better or worse, sooner or later, life conspires to reveal you to yourself, and this is growing up. 

With contributions from David Marr, Fiona Wright, Nayuka Gorrie, Steve Dow, Holly Throsby, Sally Rugg, Tony Ayres, Nic Holas, Rebecca Shaw, Kerryn Phelps and many more.

The Reckoning by Magda Szubanski

In this extraordinary memoir, Magda Szubanski describes her journey of self-discovery from a suburban childhood, haunted by the demons of her father’s espionage activities in wartime Poland and by her secret awareness of her sexuality, to the complex dramas of adulthood and her need to find out the truth about herself and her family.

With courage and compassion she addresses her own frailties and fears and asks the big questions about life, about the shadows we inherit and the gifts we pass on.

M to WTF by Samantha Allen

In this poignant audio piece, Samantha Allen takes listeners along for the wild ride of her own transition: The good, the bad, but mostly, the funny. Because once she began this life-changing journey in earnest, Samantha realized that while the emotional trials of gender dysphoria and self-discovery could be harrowing, there were so many laugh-out-loud moments along this winding road.

Think about it: While her 20- and 30-something peers were settling into the people they were going to be for the rest of their lives, Samantha was going through puberty all over again, taking the whole womanhood thing step by glamorous step – from learning the differences between men’s and women’s public restrooms to figuring out how to take off a bra without taking her shirt off first. Recognizing these moments of humor brought her joy in times she needed it most – and sharing them, she learned, could be revelatory. 

Naturally Tan by Tan France

In this heartfelt, funny, touching memoir, Tan France, star of Netflix’s Emmy award-winning Queer Eye, tells his origin story for the first time. With his trademark wit, humour and radical compassion, Tan reveals what it was like to grow up gay in a traditional South Asian family, as one of the few people of colour in South Yorkshire. He illuminates his winding journey of coming of age, finding his voice (and style!) and happily marrying the love of his life – a Mormon cowboy from Salt Lake City. 

Humorous and poignant personal essays are peppered with style advice, funny lists and the truisms that Tan has accumulated in his journey from South Yorkshire to Netflix. 

About a Girl by Rebekah Robertson

In 2000, Rebekah Robertson gave birth to twin boys, George and Harry. But as they grew older, their preferences began to show, and by the age of three it was clear Georgie was drawn to anything that was pretty or had a skirt that could swirl.

Before long Georgie began to insist that she was a girl and became distressed that she had to hide who she really was when she started school. Soon the bullying started, and she would come home in floods of tears, begging her mother to help her. 

Rebekah and her husband, conflicted about how to proceed and overwhelmed by fear, united in their determination to help her live freely and fearlessly. To ensure Georgie had access to medical support they sought permission for her to begin puberty-blocking medication. Their case, Re: Jamie, was the start of the long road to justice for transgender children in Australia and became the basis of the 2013 landmark decision to remove the Family Court’s jurisdiction. 

Wow No Thank You by Samantha Irby

Staring down the barrel of her 40th year, Samantha Irby is confronting the ways her life has changed since the days she could work a full 11 hour shift on 4 hours of sleep, change her shoes and put mascara on in the back of a moving cab and go from drinks to dinner to the club without a second thought. Recently, things are more ‘Girls Gone Mild.’ 

In Wow, No Thank You. Irby discusses the actual nightmare of living in a rural idyll, weighs in on body negativity (loving yourself is a full-time job with shitty benefits) and poses the essential question: sure sex is fun but have you ever googled a popular meme?

Children’s

Wrestle! by Charlotte Mars, Maya Newell & Gus Skattebol-James

“This story is inspired by the true life story of Gus. Gus has two mums and a sister. They are getting ready for their biggest day of the year, the Mardi Gras. But what costume should Gus wear? He loves wrestling more than anything in the whole world and that is all he thinks about. It is the obvious answer. But one of his mums is not too sure.”

Read our full review here.

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