12 Essential LGBTQ Nonfiction Books For Your Pride Month Reading List

TOPSHOT - A pride flag stands a half mast during a memorial service in San Diego, California on June 12, 2016, for the victims of the Orlando Nighclub shooting. Fifty people died when a gunman allegedly inspired by the Islamic State group opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Florida, in the worst terror attack on US soil since September 11, 2001. / AFP / Sandy Huffaker (Photo credit should read SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images

June is Pride Month, which means there are plenty of pride parades to attend, rallies to go to, and books to check off of your Pride Month reading list. From personal stories of activism to complete histories of the gay civil rights movement, these books are the perfect way to educate, commemorate, and celebrate pride.

Whether you are LGBTQ yourself or just an ally, Pride Month is an important annual event meant to honor the LGBTQ community, spread awareness and visibility, and call into action those who want to fight for equal civil rights for all. It's an opportunity to look back on all of the progress we've made as a country, from the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to the legalization same-sex marriage in all 50 states, but it's also a chance to acknowledge all of the work that still needs to be done. In the wake of a tragedy like the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, it's clear much progress still needs to be made — but that is all the more reason to show your pride this month, and every month.

In case you need a little extra motivation, inspiration, or basic knowledge about what makes the LGBTQ community so important, here are 12 books to add to your official Pride Month reading list

1. The Wedding Heard 'Round the World: America's First Gay Marriage by Michael McConnell with Jack Baker as told by Gail Langer Karwoski

In The Wedding Heard 'Round the World, Michal McConnell and Jack Baker share the incredible story of their union, the first legal same-sex wedding in the United States. Activists and champions of gay rights, Baker and McConnell worked tirelessly to obtain legal marriage rights, but that was only the beginning of their battle for equality. The moving true story of one of America's most influential marriages, The Wedding Heard 'Round the World is a celebration of love and an inspiration to LGBTQ advocates everywhere.

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2. The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman

Spanning from the 1950s to today, Lillian Faderman's The Gay Revolution chronicles the modern struggles and successes for LGBT rights. In her complete history, Faderman uses interviews with not only members of the LGBT community but politicians, military figures, activists, and lawyers to detail one of the most important civil rights issues in modern history. Engaging and inclusive, The Gay Revolution is a comprehensive look at LGBT struggles that everyone should read.

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3. Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America by Rachel Hope Cleves

A unique and often untold story of early LGBT American history, Charity and Sylvia documents the true history of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, two nineteenth century women who decided to live together as a married couple. Using original letters, diaries, and poetry, author and historian Rachel Hope Cleves paints an intimate picture of the 44-year union between these two women, illuminating an often darkened piece of history. Detailed and enlightening, Charity and Sylvia is a stand-out book perfect for celebrating pride.

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4. Equal Before The Law: How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality by Tom Witosky

The fight for LGBT rights saw a huge victory in 2015, but before the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, each state had its own battle to wage. In Equal Before the Law, Iowa's fight for marriage equality rights takes center stage, telling the story of one of the most important victories for gay rights, Varnum vs. Brien, that would set an example for other states to follow. Meticulously researched and carefully laid out, Equal Before the Law is an essential read for anyone trying to get a political, legal, and personal understanding of same-sex marriage. 

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5. Ask a Queer Chick: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life for Girls Who Dig Girls by Lindsay King-Miller

Based on her wildly popular advice column in The Hairpin, Lindsay King-Miller's Ask a Queer Chick is a complete guide to living life as a lesbian woman. Including chapters on coming out, dating, sex, King-Miller's book is direct but gentle, the perfect balance of information and comfort.

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6. Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples by Rodger Streitmatter

In Outlaw Marriages, historian Rodger Streitmater tells the stories of some successful same-sex unions in history, including the relationships of Walt Whitman and Peter Doyle, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein, and Frank Merlo and Tennessee Williams. Fascinating and compelling, this is a beautiful book celebrating LGBTQ love, and the perfect read for a month dedicated to pride.

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7. Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt

A beautiful and inspiring family story, Becoming Nicole chronicles the journey of the Maines family and their identical twins, one of whom is a transgender girl who was assigned male at birth. An important story about what it means to be a family, Becoming Nicole is a celebration of love, growth, and acceptance.

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8. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

A book of portraits and personal stories, author and photographer's Beyond Magenta explores the lives of six transgender and gender-neutral teenagers before, during, and after coming out. 

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9. Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation by Jim Downs

LGBTQ stories are often left out of the pages of standard history books, but author and historian Jim Downs gives them the space on the page that they deserve. A comprehensive look at the 1970s LGBT movement — from the major cities of L.A. and New York to the smaller communities of the Metropolitan Community Church and the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore — Stand By Me describes the struggles and achievements of the decade in vivid detail. This is an essential LGBTQ history book.

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10. Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality by Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell

A blended story of love and law, Love Wins is an important text about the landmark case that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. From behind closed doors of law offices to the streets of Washington DC, Love Wins explores every angle of the uphill battle fought and won for same-sex couples everywhere, and celebrates the victory that gave every citizen in the U.S. protection to love those they were meant to love. A must-read modern history.

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11. This Book Is Gay by James Dawson

A straight-talking, no-nonsense book about growing up as LGBT, James Dawson's This Book is Gay explores the aspects that make up gay teenage life. Covering topics like sex, politics, and coming out, this illustrated guide is the kind of book every LGBT young adult needs on their bookshelf.

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12. The Right Side of History: 100 Years of LGBQ Activism by Adrian Brooks

If you're looking for a complete history of queer activism, look no further than Adrian Brooks's The Right Side of History. Tracing all the way back to the early twentieth century and the formation of the Society of Human Rights, the first gay group in the country, this narrative covers the essential moments of the last century, leading up to the modern issues, such as marriage equality. Featuring first-person accounts and portraits of important figures in the LGBTQ community, The Right Side of History is an anthology full of history, inspiration, and pride.

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