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LGBTQIA+ books have been a huge talking point this year. US public school book bans have threatened to pull our important stories from classroom shelves. While, elsewhere, TV adaptations (yes, we’re talking about Red, White & Royal Blue) have made some titles inescapable. Still, no matter your genre preference, queer books – and their authors – have been a hit online, on-screen and on our shelves. 

This year, big names Elliot Page and Caster Semenya opened up about their experiences with identity and being in the spotlight. While, elsewhere, authors Zachary Zane debunked the stigma around sex while Justin Torres’ award-winning queer gothic fiction opens up a world of queer history and discovery. These are the books that have carried us through the year and brought queer storytelling to life. Here’s our list of favourites, chosen by the GAY TIMES team.

Better Left Unsaid – Tufayel Ahmed

When you’re the queer sibling, you know the deal –  things can get complicated, fast. For Imran, Sumaya and Majid, things haven’t quite been the same since their mum passed away. However, as the family are suddenly flung back together after a racist attack, the trio must learn how to overcome their emotional and physical distance to get things back on track. 

An interesting interplay of Muslim immigrant identities, Ahmed brings to life three unique characters that walk us through emotional stories as the siblings soon realise that some secrets – whether they like it or not – are better off shared. 


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Blackouts – Justin Torres

Blackouts explores the survival and resilience – of queer history. Set in the desert, the novel follows two queer Puerto Rican men: an elderly and dying Juan Gay and a younger unnamed companion. Gay bestows a “project” onto the narrator – a book titled Sex Variants: A Study of Homosexual Patterns written by Jan Gay next steps are subtly realised as Torres pulls erased stories from the margins into main focus. Soon enough, through sprawling conversations, we learn of names – and histories – buried. Blackouts reminds us of our fate; the inevitability of lives partially remembered and, if we’re lucky, passed on.  


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Boyslut – Zachary Zane 

From sharing how a sex toy saved his love life to detailing his polyamory journey, Zachary Zane, a sex columnist for Men’s Health and Cosmopolitan US, has made his name in witty entries about his life. A self-described “memoir and manifesto: Zane pours his life lessons into easy, accessible essays, tackling subjects of bisexuality, STIs, sexual shame and much more. You’ll put down Boyslut having learned a little more about the ways we discuss sexuality and, thanks to Zane’s colourful anecdotes, enjoy some sex-positive storytelling. 


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Brainwyrms – Alison Rumfitt

What would you do if your nightmare scenario came to life? Well, for Frankie it does. When a transphobic terrorist targets her workplace, everything around her starts to fall apart. Frankie tries to patch up her life with distractions — sex, drinking, drugs, with little hope of getting better. Suddenly things seem to change for Frankie. Enter Vanya, a mysterious woman she meets at a kink party. Rumfitt thrillingly twists political horror and trauma into this unforgettable and shocking read. Some readers may find the contents of this book triggering. 


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Couplets: A Love Story – Maggie Millner 

Couplets delves into the experience of a woman in her late twenties, who breaks from her conventional lifestyle and relationship with a man, as she finds fluidity through her engagement with queerness, polyamory and kink. Millner manoeuvres between prose and poetry in a measured yet exacting exploration of self-hood It’s slick, quick-witted, and one you won’t want to miss out on. 

Homebodies: A Novel by Tembe Denton-Hurst

A charming debut novel, Homebodies is for anyone persuading themselves to finally get those pages in. Mickey Hayward, a young Black American writer from Maryland, is trying to find her place in a fast-moving world. But, once she finds out her beloved magazine job is no more, she spirals. And it gets worse: Mickey’s boss has plans to replace her with another Black writer. 

Homebodies is a novel that echoes the uncomfortable familiarity of the media industry’s current instability. Denton-Hurst does well to paint the realities of industry racism and microaggressions, from Mickey’s overbearing white boss sharing hectic Slack messages over lunch to uneasy environments at work. A complex story of balancing a new career, romance and family life as a young adult, Denton-Hurst delivers a thoughtful book about a 20-something-year-old unravelling and coming to terms with who she is meant to be. 


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Pageboy – Elliot Page

There’s a good chance that Elliot Page’s Pageboy is already on your reading list. A book that’s received endless buzz, Page’s memoir draws on everything from trauma in his childhood to the abuse he faced in the acting industry. Time jumping across his life experiences, the actor unravels stories about his sexuality and gender in candid detail. Pageboy is about the trans experience but it’s also about so much more; it’s a capsule of Page’s journey – the good and the bad – that will leave you entirely moved. 


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Mrs. S – K Patrick 

Mrs. S, a stylish story of an illicit queer affair, has a dark academic setting: an elite all-girls boarding school. In this brilliant debut novel, Scottish poet and author, K Patrick pens a captivating novel on forbidden love and selfhood. A butch lesbian from Australia is appointed as a “matron” at a British boarding school. As she tries to settle in with her new unfamiliar surroundings, she finds herself yearning for Mrs. S, the headmaster’s wife. A story of power, bravery and ultimate choices, Mrs. S is a must-read. 


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Queer Life, Queer Love: The Second Anthology – Matt Bates, Julia Bell, Sarah and Kate Beal

Some people hate a sequel, but, if it’s camp and colourful we’re going to give it a try. The follow-up to 2021’s Queer Life, Queer Love, this second anthology packs in over 40 collections of poems, essays and fast fiction. So, whether you’re cramming in some reading on the tube or fancy some low-stakes lazy read this is the book for you. With stories on butch romance in a bra shop to wanting something more than friendship, this sister publication is full of just as many joyful easy-reading entries as the last. 

The Race To Be Myself – Caster Semenya

Imagine: You’re a two-time Olympic and three-time World Champion. Everyone knows your name and your story – yet the legitimacy of your achievements remain up for debate. For sporting hero Caster Semenya, this was her reality. Now, in her debut memoir, the athlete speaks out about her journey from Ga-Masehlong, a rural South African village, to the global spotlight. A debut author, Semenya is an engaging memoirist who skillfully unpacks topics of discrimination in sport and how she, and fellow marginalised competitors, and the relentless investigations around her gender as a competitive athlete. For sports lovers and avid readers alike, The Race To Be Myself is as illuminating as it is enjoyable. 


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