While it’s great to have queer representation in TV shows, movies, video games and the like, it’s even better when that representation comes from queer creators. Not only is the representation more authentic when it comes straight from the tap, but it also creates opportunities for queer creators, giving them a well-deserved seat at the table. As a self-proclaimed hoe for books (and to give you some ideas for your summer reading list), here’s a list of queer writers who include queer characters in their stories.
Kai Ashante Wilson
If you like quick reads, be sure to put Kai Ashante Wilson at the top of your reading list. Wilson is the author of two fantasy novellas, The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and A Taste of Honey, both of which take place in the same universe of demigods, necromantic terrors, and magic. Not only does Wilson write in one of my favorite genres, but his narratives also center on the love between gay men of color. Even better is that Wilson’s characters are unapologetically “‘round the way,” meaning they make no bones about playing fast and loose with grammar and proper speech. If you’ve seen Moonlight, you already have a solid idea of the experience you’re in for. Prepare yourself for brutal poetry that pummels on one page and pacifies on the next.
Sam J. Miller
The Art of Starving was my first introduction to writer Sam J. Miller, and I didn’t expect to enjoy the novel (for some reason) as much as I did. The book focuses on a small-town gay teen whose eating disorder gives him special abilities. Miller based the story on his own struggles with an eating disorder, which becomes apparent as you feel the raw agony spiking through his words. While The Art of Starving is a YA novel, its themes are easily relatable to older readers, especially those who struggle with body dysmorphia. Another of Miller’s novels, Blackfish City, has queer characters, which I’ll most certainly be adding to my “to be read” pile.
Margaret Killjoy is a transfeminine author of quick, easily digestible narratives. The Danielle Cain Series focuses on a queer, female-identifying main character who journeys to Freedom, Iowa to solve the mystery of her best friend’s suicide. Joined by a diverse cast of characters, Danielle is plunged into a world of magic, murderous protector spirits, and genuine community. So far, the series only has two novellas, but they make for ideal reads if you’re looking for stories that have light horror elements and heavy social commentary.
What can I say about reading River Soloman’s An Unkindness of Ghosts that fully encapsulates the majesty and power of the literary baby they’ve birthed into the world? There’s so much, so, so much to appreciate about this story. You’ve got an ambiguously gendered and neuroatypical main character in Aster, and a cast of queer characters who are just as compelling as Aster. The book touches on colorism, gender, religion, and much more. At this point, I feel like it doesn’t even matter what the book is about, it deserves a spot at the top of your reading list.
If you’d like an undiluted shot of Mother Africa added to your fantasy literary cocktail, then you may find Marlon James slakes your narrative thirst. In James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf, we’re introduced to a hunter named Tracker who’s tasked with finding a missing boy. While James does include queer characters in Black Leopard, Red Wolf, I have to include a content warning for this particular selection. Its pages are packed with rape, incest, bestiality, and misogyny, to name a few. If you aren’t unsettled or triggered by such content, you may enjoy everything else the 620-page tome has to offer.
Sit Down and Take a Read
As you continue to explore the world of LGBTQ reads, be sure to swing by your local library or bookstore. Charis Books and More in Decatur houses many of these literary titles with many more queer writers to be discovered within the stores’ bookshelves. While the above stories may be fictional, the queer representation etched into the pages by their queer authors is magnificently real, and is sure to keep you running back for more.