9 Of Literature's Best LGBTQ Coming-Of-Age Sexuality Stories That Helped Us All Become More Comfortable With Who We Are
The wait is over! (You hear all the cheering too, right?) The Supreme Court has ruled bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in the United States. Sure, the ruling took way too long to arrive, but it's here now.. so YEAH! Who else is putting on her happy dance shoes?
One of the reasons I'm so excited to celebrate same-sex marriage is because I've always had so many queer heroes. Many of them are from my real life, others are from TV and movies, and then there are also tons that come from the pages of books. Literature is filled with characters (and lots of real-life people, too) who discovered their sexual identities and OWNED IT in the very best way. Their amazing moments of self-realization and transformation inspired me to love who I am and just kinda rock it.
So, in honor of this incredible, historic day — thanks, SCOTUS! — here are nine of literature's best coming-of-age LGBTQ sexuality stories that'll probably make you feel pretty awesome about the skin you're in, too.
Naked by David Sedaris
David Sedaris' Naked , like everything Sedaris has ever written, is laugh-out-loud hilarious from beginning to end. This memoir, about so many bizarre and surprising things that would be impossible to list (fruit-packing factories, paroled prostitutes... ) ultimately tells a story of the pitfalls and successes of discovering your own unique identity. It'll leave you feeling like any chaos you've got going on in your life right now is totally manageable.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel is a polisher of caskets in her family's funeral home, but she really wishes to be a cowboy. The graphic memoir Fun Home is Bechdel's coming-of-age and coming-out story, about being raised by her emotionally distant father, who is a closeted homosexual himself. This story ends with what is probably one of the greatest moments in coming-out literary history to-date.
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
Tipping the Velvet is the Victorian-era story of Nan King, a woman who falls head-over-heels in love with the cross-dressing music hall singer, Kitty Butler. Although Kitty ultimately breaks Nan's heart, she acts as the catalyst for Nan to begin cross-dressing herself, introducing her to a world where she is much more at home than she was in her old one. Nan's ending is a pretty happy one.
I Am J by Cris Beam
J, the protagonist of I Am J , has always felt like a boy who was mistakenly born a girl. As J grows up, he does his best to become invisible, instead of dealing with the reality of his true identity as a transgendered person. But when J loses the one relationship in his life that he thought would be there forever, he finally discovers the powerful person he really is: one brave enough to stand up and say: "I am J."
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Two Boys Kissing is based on the real life story of two boys who enter a 32-hour kissing marathon. Harry and Craig are determined to set a new Guinness World Record, but as their make-out sesh goes on and on, what they seem to do, above all else, is become a symbol of inspiration for other teen boys who are dealing with their own gender identity, coming out experiences, and first same-sex relationships. Which is arguably way better than beating a Guinness World Record, anyway.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
In The Miseducation of Cameron Post , the orphaned Cameron Post notes from the very beginning, that since her parents are dead, she'll be spared the challenge of telling them she's gay. Unfortunately, when Cameron's romantic relationship with her best friend is revealed, Cameron is sent away by her aunt, to a place called God's Promise, a camp for “curing” homosexuality. Yikes. At camp though, all Cameron learns is that she still has come coming-of-age left to do, but no matter what she'll never deny who she truly is. You go girl.
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
The hilarious writer of stranger-than-fiction antics, Augusten Burroughs, is trying to get sober in a rehab facility that focuses specifically on gay and lesbian patients. Dry is the story of one man's journey through his own identity and inner demons, told with Burroughs signature, unflinching humor. This memoir definitely has its up and down moments, but ends with a win.
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Rubyfruit Jungle , released in 1973, was ahead of it's time in a lot of ways: acting as a strong, revolutionary voice for countless women in the midst of their own coming-out journeys. The protagonist, Molly Bolt, discovers her sexual identity early, and has her first same-sex relationship in the 6th grade. The best part is that since Molly's such a fighter, her story ends all empowered-ever-after.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Published in April of 2010 Will Grayson, Will Grayson was the first LGBT-themed novel to ever rank on The New York Times children's best-seller list. This book tells the story of two boys, Will Graysons #1 and #2, who meet one night at a crossroads — both literally, and in their personal lives as well. One Will is straight and the other is gay, but as their narratives grow more complex, and unique identities intertwine, the Wills become less and less distinguishable from one another. This is a novel about discovering yourself and celebrating yourself, and ends as so many more novels should, with a delightfully epic high school musical.