YA Friday: Happy LGBTQIA Pride!

June is LGBTQIA+ Pride Month

The month of June was chosen for LGBTQ+ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising, which occurred at the end of June 1969 in Manhattan. What began as a single day of observance has since grown to month-long celebrations throughout the country. It's a time for remembering the past, acknowledging the present, as well as advocating for the future.

When it comes to Pride Month there are so many ways to celebrate, raise awareness, and be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. One of my favorite ways to celebrate Pride is by uplifting queer voices through reading and sharing books about queer characters, books by queer writers, and books for queer readers.

Queer representation in the young adult book world has improved in recent years as authors and stories have focused on more than just the coming out process, which while an important milestone, isn’t a defining one. Today’s young readers have options when it comes to reading books by and about LGBTQIA+ people. Finally, queer young people of color can see themselves not only reflected in the pages but finally on the covers! And can read about people like them having space adventures, solving mysteries, and winding up at the center of a romantic comedy.

If you want to make June a month of DIVERSE Pride reading, this list of YA books all published this year is a great place to start. While this list is by no means a comprehensive representation of the many different sexualities and gender identities that exist in the world, the books below will open you up to new and diverse experiences within the queer community. So check out the suggestions of inclusive reads you can pick up at your local library branch to keep celebrating the spirit of Pride for the rest of the year.

Victories Greater Than Death, book cover

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Tina never worries about being ‘ordinary’—she doesn’t have to since she’s known practically forever that she’s not just Tina Mains an average teenager and beloved daughter. She’s also the keeper of an interplanetary rescue beacon, and one day soon, it’s going to activate, and then her dreams of saving all the worlds and adventuring among the stars will finally be possible. Tina’s legacy, after all, is intergalactic—she is the hidden clone of a famed alien hero, left on Earth disguised as a human to give the universe another chance to defeat a terrible evil.

But when the beacon activates, it turns out that Tina’s destiny isn’t quite what she expected. Things are far more dangerous than she ever assumed. Luckily, Tina is surrounded by a crew she can trust, and her best friend Rachel, and she is still determined to save all the worlds. But first, she’ll have to save herself.

The Sky Blues, book cover

The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch

Sky Baker may be openly gay, but in his small, insular town, making sure he was invisible has always been easier than being himself. Determined not to let anything ruin his senior year, Sky decides to make a splash at his high school’s annual beach bum party by asking his crush, Ali, to prom—and he has thirty days to do it.

What better way to start living loud and proud than by pulling off the gayest promposal Rock Ledge, Michigan, has ever seen?

Then, Sky’s plans are leaked by an anonymous hacker in a deeply homophobic e-blast that quickly goes viral. He’s fully prepared to drop out and skip town altogether—until his classmates give him a reason to fight back by turning his thirty-day promposal countdown into a school-wide hunt to expose the e-blast perpetrator.

But what happens at the end of the thirty days? Will Sky get to keep his hard-won visibility? Or will his small-town blues stop him from being his true self?

Bruised, book cover

Bruised by Tanya Boteju

To Daya Wijesinghe, a bruise is a mixture of comfort and control. Since her parents died in an accident she survived, bruises have become a way to keep her pain on the surface of her skin so she doesn’t need to deal with the ache deep in her heart.

So when chance and circumstances bring her to a roller derby bout, Daya is hooked. Yes, the rules are confusing and the sport seems to require the kind of teamwork and human interaction Daya generally avoids. But the opportunities to bruise are countless, and Daya realizes that if she’s going to keep her emotional pain at bay, she’ll need all the opportunities she can get.

The deeper Daya immerses herself into the world of roller derby, though, the more she realizes it’s not the simple physical pain-fest she was hoping for. Her rough-and-tumble teammates and their fans push her limits in ways she never imagined, bringing Daya to big truths about love, loss, strength, and healing.

A Complicated Love Story Set in Space, book cover

A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson

When Noa closes his eyes on Earth and wakes up on a spaceship called Qriosity just as it’s about to explode, he’s pretty sure things can’t get much weirder.

Boy is he wrong.

Trapped aboard Qriosity are also DJ and Jenny, neither of whom remember how they got onboard the ship. Together, the three face all the dangers of space, along with murder, aliens, a school dance, and one really, really bad day. But none of this can prepare Noa for the biggest challenge—falling in love. And as Noa’s feelings for DJ deepen, he has to contend not just with the challenges of the present, but also with his memories of the past.

However, nothing is what it seems on Qriosity, and the truth will upend all of their lives forever.

Love is complicated enough without also trying to stay alive.

Be Dazzled, book cover

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making—for creation. He's always chosen his art over everything—and everyone—else and is determined to make his mark at this year's biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There's only one small problem... Raffy's ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store—or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca's insecurities and Raffy's insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can't ruin.

But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he'll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he's ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club, book cover

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Further Reading

Kate in Waiting, book cover
May the Best Man Win, book cover
She Drives Me Crazy, book cover
Love Is for Losers, book cover
Pumpkin, book cover
Perfect on Paper, book cover
As Far as You'll Take Me, book cover
The Key to You and Me, book cover
Not My Problem, book cover
I Think I Love You, book cover
Can't Take That Away, book cover
One of the Good Ones, book cover
Any Place but Here, book cover
Yesterday Is History, book cover
It Goes Like This, book cover
Trouble Girls, book cover
The Witch King, book cover
Follow Your Arrow, book cover