More Colors in My Rainbow Bookshelf

Kate McDevitt | June 2020

More Colors in My Rainbow Bookshelf by Kate McDevitt, June 2020

I identified as a reader long before I realized I fell under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. One of the things I do every year to celebrate pride month is to read exclusively LGBTQ+ books. I am one of those people who reads about ten books at a time. For example, I have one by my bed, one on audio in the car, one by my couch, one on Kindle, one in my purse, and one in the bathroom. #NotEmbarrassed Therefore, it is not surprising that last year I finished fourteen books in June and had another seven in progress on the last day of the month. These ranged in genre from memoir (Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings) to graphic novel (Taproot by Keezy Young and My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame) to fiction (How to Be a Normal Person by TJ Klune and Comfort and Joy by Jim Grimsley) to fantasy (Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault and Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst) to a story in verse (Some Girls Bind by Rory James). All right, there was also an abundance of young adult fiction (Odd One Out by Nic Stone and Luna by Julie Anne Peters) and romance as well (Him by Sarina Bowel and Elle Kennedy). #StillNotEmbarrassed

I have a few outstanding online book club commitments in June, including rereading the second Harry Potter book for my Harry Potter meetup group and reading Aimee Liu’s Glorious Boy for the AWP Virtual Book Club. On June 18, I am leading an online book discussion through my library’s group Young at Heart: Adults Discussing Young Adult Fiction of They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (contact me for the details if you want to join the discussion). I also need to read Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver for a book discussion the first weekend of July with fellow members of the Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic meetup group.

Given my reading style, that still leaves me with ample opportunity to read books for pride month. Will I read my beautiful hardcover copy of Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel eight years after it was published? Will this be the year I finally get to that copy of Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg I picked up an embarrassingly long time ago? Maybe.

And maybe not. As I was assembling my reading list, my attention was repeatedly drawn to updates in my newsfeed. My gaze drifted to images of the recent pride flags with black and brown stripes added (the Philadelphia 2017 flag, the Progress 2019 flag) that I was using in another of my projects. Fifty-one years ago, the Stonewall uprising that fueled the gay rights movement was part of six days of protests, riots, and clashes with law enforcement. The Stonewall Inn was one of the only establishments that admitted drag queens and transvestites (their chosen labels at the time). Though specific recollections and timelines vary, accounts credit several drag queens of color as pivotal in the fight for rights during the uprising as well as in the movement to follow, including Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. 

Supporting queer, black and brown writers is an obvious choice. I have already read some of the classics over the years such as Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. At an early age, my mother shared Nikki Giovanni’s poetry collections with me. However, I felt it was important to actively seek out more recent books. Though there are not nearly enough of these books on the market, there are still more than enough to keep even me supplied for a month of rainbow reading.

Because I am a sucker for young adult fiction, first on my list this month is Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender. I have looked forward to reading this book for a while now, and I am pleased to report it is already living up to all my expectations. I have also taken Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color edited by Christopher Soto off the shelf where it has been since I purchased it a few months ago at #AWP20. I am ashamed to admit that an ARC of Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett has been sitting by my bed for two years now, unread, so I plan to remedy that. Here are some of the other books on my list for this month:

  • Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
  • No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America by Darnell L. Moore
  • A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney
  • Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
  • The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
  • The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin
  • Lot by Bryan Washington
  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
  • The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
  • This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kacen Callender
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
  • Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

If I need a quick read mid-month, I have my copy of Bingo Love by Tee Franklin to reread or I could read the Long Exposure webcomic by Mars. I might even treat myself to a romance or two. I have been wanting to read Graham’s Delicacies by Mina Waheed because of its abundance of diverse representations. And I have heard good things about Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole. #OkayMaybeALittleEmbarrassedAboutThatOne

If you want to build your own reading list for the month and beyond, I found the following resources helpful in putting together and then narrowing down my choices:

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