It’s still pride month, and that means we’re back with part 3 of the pride month book lists! This week, I’m going to be sharing five of my favorite memoirs by queer people. All of these people have such incredibly motivational stories that make me proud to be a member of the queer community. It’s important to read the stories of people who have come before us to see both how society has changed, and how it hasn’t. Let me know in the comments what queer memoirs you would recommend!
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
My Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: January 1st 1982
Genre: Autobiographical Memoir
You Should Read This Book If You Like… audre lorde’s essays, critical thinkings about race+gender, in depth stories about many different yet specific periods of time
Goodreads Summary: ZAMI is a fast-moving chronicle. From the author’s vivid childhood memories in Harlem to her coming of age in the late 1950s, the nature of Audre Lorde’s work is cyclical. It especially relates the linkage of women who have shaped her . . . Lorde brings into play her craft of lush description and characterization. It keeps unfolding page after page.
Redefining Realness, by Janet Mock
My Rating: 3 stars
Release Date: February 4th 2014
Genre: Autobiographical Memoir
You Should Read This Book If You Like… full life autobiographies, facts and statistics mixed into personal story, Janet Mock’s other work as a director/producer/writer
Goodreads Summary: In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Those 2300 words were life-altering for the People.com editor, turning her into an influential and outspoken public figure and a desperately needed voice for an often voiceless community. In these pages, she offers a bold and inspiring perspective on being young, multicultural, economically challenged, and transgender in America.
Welcomed into the world as her parents’ firstborn son, Mock decided early on that she would be her own person—no matter what. She struggled as the smart, determined child in a deeply loving yet ill-equipped family that lacked the money, education, and resources necessary to help her thrive. Mock navigated her way through her teen years without parental guidance, but luckily, with the support of a few close friends and mentors, she emerged much stronger, ready to take on—and maybe even change—the world.
This powerful memoir follows Mock’s quest for identity, from an early, unwavering conviction about her gender to a turbulent adolescence in Honolulu that saw her transitioning during the tender years of high school, self-medicating with hormones at fifteen, and flying across the world alone for sex reassignment surgery at just eighteen. With unflinching honesty, Mock uses her own experience to impart vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of trans youth and brave girls like herself.
Despite the hurdles, Mock received a scholarship to college and moved to New York City, where she earned a master’s degree, enjoyed the success of an enviable career, and told no one about her past. She remained deeply guarded until she fell for a man who called her the woman of his dreams. Love fortified her with the strength to finally tell her story, enabling her to embody the undeniable power of testimony and become a fierce advocate for a marginalized and misunderstood community. A profound statement of affirmation from a courageous woman, Redefining Realness provides a whole new outlook on what it means to be a woman today, and shows as never before how to be authentic, unapologetic, and wholly yourself.
We Were Witches, by Ariel Gore
My Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: September 12th 2017
Genre: Magical Realism
You Should Read This Book If You Like… a bit of magic in your memoir, full life memoirs, experimental fiction, reading my all time favorite memoir
Goodreads Summary: Spurred on by nineties “family values” campaigns and determined to better herself through education, a teen mom talks her way into college. Disgusted by an overabundance of phallocratic narratives and Freytag’s pyramid, she turns to a subcultural canon of resistance and failure. Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, it documents the survival of a demonized single mother figuring things out.
I Can’t Date Jesus, by Michael Arceneaux
My Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: July 24th, 2018
Genre: Essays / Humor
You Should Read This Book If You Like… humor, essay style nonfiction, a family-focused narrative
Goodreads Summary: Featured as one of Summer 2018’s most anticipated reads by the Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, ELLE, Buzzfeed, and Bitch Media.
In the style of New York Times bestsellers You Can’t Touch My Hair, Bad Feminist, and I’m Judging You, a timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul‑searching essays about what it is like to grow up as a creative, sensitive black man in a world that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity.
It hasn’t been easy being Michael Arceneaux.
Equality for LGBT people has come a long way and all, but voices of persons of color within the community are still often silenced, and being black in America is…well, have you watched the news?
With the characteristic wit and candor that have made him one of today’s boldest writers on social issues, I Can’t Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux’s impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at minority life in today’s America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite.
He eloquently writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; that time his father asked if he was “funny” while shaking his hand; his obstacles in embracing intimacy; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams.
Perfect for fans of David Sedaris and Phoebe Robinson, I Can’t Date Jesus tells us—without apologies—what it’s like to be outspoken and brave in a divisive world.
Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
My Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: March 10th 2020
Genre: self help memoir
You Should Read This Book If You Like… christian gay narratives, parenting, late in life lesbians, kind of preachy self help books
Goodreads Summary: Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.