YA Friday: Love is Love

June is LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ 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 #OwnVoices 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.

The Black Flamingo, book cover

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born.

Felix Ever After, book cover

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle....

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

You Should See Me in A Crown, book cover

You Should See Me in A Crown by Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

All Boys Aren't Blue, book cover

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Date Me, Bryson Keller, book cover

Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin Van Whye

Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new--the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he's never really dated before.

Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.

Kai Sheridan didn't expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there's more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he's awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this "relationship" will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?

 Only Mostly Devastated, book cover

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he's fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he's found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairy tale ending, and to complicate the fairy tale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it's the same school Will goes to...except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn't the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn't ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts "coincidentally" popping up in every area of Ollie's life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.

The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again. Right? Right.

Further Reading

Late to the Party, book cover
The Gravity of Us, book cover
Music From Another World, book cover
19 Love Songs, book cover
We Were Promised Spotlights, book cover
Camp, book cover
Look, book cover
When We Were Magic, book cover
The Midnight Lie, book cover
The Henna Wars, book cover
The Falling in Love Montage, book cover
Heartstopper: Volume 1, book cover