I'm the kind of reader who likes to base my TBR pile on the seasons, which is why you'll always find me reading historical fiction around patriotic holidays in July, scary stories in October, and classic romances thoughout the month of February. And while June kicks off my summer reading list, one filled with easy beach reads and simmering romances, it is also the time of year that I like to compile a list of LGBTQ memoirs everyone should read for Pride Month, because diverse stories truly matter.
From parades and rallies to cookouts and dances, people celebrate Pride Month in so many different ways, but for the bookish types in the world, nothing beats settling in for the month with a long list of appropriately themed books. When it comes to creating the perfect Pride Month reading list, it's important to include essential works of LGBTQ fiction, critical and historical texts about the movement, and memoirs from members of the LGBTQ community themselves. There's no better way to understand a person or a community than to try and see things from their perspective and take a walk in their shoes. LGBTQ memoirs let you do exactly that.
Since there's still plenty of time left to celebrate and commemorate the gay community this month (and every other month), here are 12 LGBTQ memoirs you should read, because everyone's story deserves to be heard.
1. Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrard Conley
Garrard Conley is the son of a Baptist pastor, and the church was a big part of his life, so when he realized he was gay, his entire world was turned upside down. Boy Erased is Conley's story of being outed to his parents in his teen years, and being forced to either lose his family, friends, and community or go to a church-supported program designed to "cure" him of his homosexuality. Through the program meant to cleanse him of his sins and make him heterosexual, Conley found the courage to break away and find his true identity. A moving memoir about discovering your true self, Boy Erased is a must-read.
2. Sweet Tooth: A Memoir by Tim Anderson
A winner of the 2015 International Book Award, Tim Anderson's Sweet Tooth is the kind of memoir that will have you laughing out loud as you read along. A hilarious account of his youth and early adult years, Sweet Tooth focuses on the time in Anderson's life that had him not only stumbling over his sexuality and driven mad by hormones, but a time where was grappling with his new type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Honest and unflinching, Anderson's memoir is the perfect mix of humor and heart.
3. Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs
The author of several autobiographical works, Augusten Burroughs is no stranger to sharing his private life with readers, but his latest memoir gets more personal than ever. Lust & Wonder chronicles Burrough's romantic relationships — the failures and the successes — in an attempt to find the difference between falling in love and being in lust. Hilarious and intimate, this latest work from a literary mastermind is among his best.
4. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
A complicated and hilarious family story, Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir is unlike anything you've ever read before. In Fun Home, Bechdel explores her strained relationship with her father, a man the author didn't learn was gay until after she came out as a lesbian and only a few weeks before his death. Honest and unapologetic, Fun House is a beautiful and immersive reading experience, one that will have you pouring over each graphic page again and again.
5. The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin
In her gut-wrenching memoir about growing up in Jamaica, Stacyann Chin shares the a painful story about trying to find her place in a world that didn't want her from the beginning. After her surprising and unexpected birth, Stacyann was left by her parents to be raised by her grandmother, but when she's separated from the only love and support she has ever known, she must learn to find a way to break into a world that keeps trying to beat her down. An extraordinary tale of searching for home, coming out as a lesbian, and finding a true self, The Other Side of Paradise is a haunting story you won't soon forget.
6. Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
One of the most influential teens in the country, Jazz Jennings has been sharing the story of her transgender journey since she was a kid, and Being Jazz proves she isn't done talking yet. In it, the activist and pioneer talks openly and honestly about her experiences as a transgender teen in an attempt to further the conversation about gender identity in the United States. A personal reflection on how her public coming out has affected not only her life but the lives of everyone in the transgender community, Being Jazz is a sensitive and thought-provoking read, one that couldn't have come at a better time.
7. I'm Just a Person by Tig Notaro
Tig Notaro, one of today's most hilarious and thought-provoking comedians, shares her story about illness, death, and finding the strength to carry on in I'm Just a Person. A memoir about one of the most trying times in her life, a time where she was hospitalized for an intestinal disease, lost her mother unexpectedly, was going through a break up, and was diagnosed with breast cancer, all in the span of a few months, Notaro's memoir is as hilarious and honest as her stand up routine. Filled with bits of silliness, moments of sadness, and scenes of joy, I'm Just a Person speaks to the strength and bravery we all have within us.
8. She's Not There : A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan
In her thought-provoking bestseller, She's Not There, shares her own moving experiences as a transgender woman in an attempt to better understand the idea of gender and changing genders. A detailed account of what its like to not only come to terms with your own identity, but to share that true you with friends family, and complete strangers,, Boylan's memoir is as revealing as it is compassionate. Brutally honest but ultimately inspiring, She's Not There is a beautiful story about the importance of accepting your true self.
9. City Boy: My Life in New York 1960s and '70s by Edmund White
The New York City of the 1960s and '70s comes to life in the pages of Edmund White's City Boy, a memoir about the LGBTQ community during one of the most important times and and in one of the most important places in its history. In his confessional, White takes us to cocktail parties filled with famous guests, like William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, to the Hudson river, where he and his friends would cruise for sex, leaving out no details and hiding nothing from the reader. A cultural portrait of a time and place unlike any other, City Boy is a well written, personal account of a community at one of its most important points in history, one not to be missed.
10. Every Step You Take: A Memoir by Jock Soto
After a life on stage, legendary dancer Jock Soto decided to figuring out just who he was, where he came from, and what was next for him. In Every Step You Take, Soto explores his roots as the gay son of a Puerto Rican-Navajo couple, and tries to figure out how they shaped the path that lead him from the dusty desert of his misguided youth to the life he has come to know in New York, one filled with fellow artistic icons, sophisticated parties, and, of course, he New York City Ballet. A remarkable story about family, acceptance, and our ever changing identities and the drive we all have to find out who we really are, Every Step You Take shows you the life behind the curtains of one of the greatest artists in ballet's history.
11. Bettyville by George Hodgman
A beautiful, heartwarming story about the people we call family and the places that we call home, George Hodgman's Bettyville is a moving memoir not to be missed. When Hodgman's mother becomes ill, he leaves his glamorous life in NYC behind to go back to Missouri and take care of her, and finds himself in the place he called home for so many years with a mom who has yet to fully accept him for what he is: gay. During their time together, Hodgman and his mother butt heads, get in arguments, and disagree, but through their conflicts, they find a deeper respect for one another, and their bond of love only grows stronger. A funny and touching story about mothers and sons, Bettyville just might have you breaking out the tissues by the end.
12. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
Best known for her fiction, lesbian author Jeanette Winterson's brilliant memoir proves there is no genre this writer can't handle. In Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Winterson recounts her childhood in the home of her adoptive parents, a weak-willed father incapable of standing up for his adoptive daughter or himself and Mrs. Winterson, a mother, who was a bitter hypocrite and religious zealot. A painful and powerful story about abandonment, love, and self-worth, Jeanette Winterson's memoir is just as breathtaking as her fiction, a truly remarkable read.