As India waits for the Supreme Court’s verdict on Section 377, hoping it finally decriminalises homosexuality, and U.S. lawmakers continue to have heated debates on transgender rights, this is the perfect time to read some LGBT literature. The books in this list are memoirs and thrillers, fiction and erotica, and all will expose you to various facets of LGBT life. This list forms part of The Extraordinary Reading Challenge 2018.


The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness

Arundhati Roy

It is heart-warming when a literary stalwart such as Arundhati Roy writes LGBT literature as she really has the power to touch and change people’s lives. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a beautiful book with many interwoven stories, with one of the protagonists being Anjum, an intersex, who was given the name Aftab at birth. The story covers Anjum’s struggles with her own identity at a young age, her joy at raising an abandoned child, and the general treatment of intersex people in India.

Buy it here.


Bad Boy: A Novel

Elliot Wake

An edge-of-your-seat thriller, Bad Boy is a fast-paced book which features a trans male as the protagonist. Renard Grant is a popular vlogger and at the same time a secret member of the violent vigilante group called Black Iris. When one of Grant’s past sexual abusers starts targeting Black Iris, things get personal and Grant has to not only face his own demons but also answer questions about his sexuality which he isn’t prepared to do. This book poses some interesting questions about gender identification.

Buy it here.


Blue Is The Warmest Colour

Julie Maroh

This French graphic novel is the tragic love story of two girls- the rebellious, blue-haired Emma and the docile Clementine. After Clementine’s untimely passing, Emma finds her diaries and the story is told through Clementine’s journal entries. Emma reads how Clementine, in her younger days, dated a boy as she thought she should be ‘normal’, and how she had to deal with homophobia from her classmates once they knew she was a lesbian. The novel touches upon multiple themes such as coming out, cheating, addiction, and most importantly, love.

Buy it here.


The Song of Achilles

Madeline Miller

Achilles, the hero of the Trojan War, doesn’t need an introduction, and his love affair with the Trojan girl Briseis is well-known. While Homer only hints at Achilles’ bisexuality in the Illiad, Miller writes about an all-out love affair between Achilles and his young male cousin, Patroclus in The Song Of Achilles. While staying true to the story of the Trojan War, Miller humanises Achilles’ character by showing him capable of love and longing, and not just full of rage and a desire to kill. She also creates a powerful back-story for Patroclus, making readers relate with him and grieve when he dies. This book won the Orange Prize in 2012.

Buy it here.


Rubyfruit Jungle

Rita Mae Brown

While some critics believe Rubyfruit Jungle isn’t as relevant now as it was when it was released, it is still a classic in LGBT literature, one that has inspired many young lesbian women and provides an understanding of what it was to be a lesbian in 1970s America. Although dealing with the serious topic of being accepted as a lesbian, Mae Brown writes in an extremely humorous fashion, making it impossible to feel overwhelmed while reading this book. This is the story of Molly Bolt, a young lesbian growing up in 1970s America navigating her way through the relatively unknown and even less spoken about realm of lesbian relationships and sex.

Buy it here.


Funny Boy

Shyam Selvadurai

Set during the 1983 Sinhala-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka, Funny Boy is the story of Arjie, a young homosexual boy. He not only struggles with his own sexuality, but also with racism, violence and tragedy. Readers will be moved as they encounter Arjie’s parents disallowing him to play with girls because he wants to play the part of a bride, Arjie having to transfer schools in order to ‘man up’, and his first sexual encounter with another boy. Told in six parts, Funny Boy is Sri Lankan-Canadian author, Shyam Selvadurai’s first novel and has won the prestigious Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Male Novel.

Buy it here.


Close, Too Close: The Tranquebar Book of Queer Erotica

Meenu (ed.) and Shruti(ed.)

The first of its kind, Close, Too Close is an anthology of erotic LGBT literature, focused on South Asia. Literary heavyweight Devdutt Patanaik has contributed to the anthology and LGBT-rights activist Vikram Doctor has written the foreword. With stories set in metros such as Delhi and Mumbai, generally less visited states like Kashmir, and smaller towns such as Vishakapatnam, the book provides readers with a glimpse into the sex lives of people from the LGBTQ community across India.

Buy it here.


Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith and Family

Garrard Conley

A very important work in LGBT literature, Boy Erased is the true story of Garrard Conley who was outed to his parents when he was 19. Besides facing homophobia from the community, his religious parents forced him to join a program called ‘Love In Action’, a 12-step, Bible-study program which promised to ‘cure’ him of being gay. Passionately written, Boy Erased talks about facing your inner demons, fortifying your own beliefs, coming to terms with your sexuality, and forgiveness and understanding.

Buy it here.


Call Me By Your Name

André Aciman

While already popular in the LGBTQ community, Call Me By Your Name shot to mainstream popularity when it was made into a film in 2017 and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards. It is the sweet but sad love story of Elio, a young 16-year-old boy and his father’s research assistant, Oliver, a 24-year-old man. The two have a passionate affair over one summer.. Through Elio and Oliver’s relationship with both each other and other women, the book explores themes of bisexuality, passion, romance, religion, and unrequited love. Fair warning: the book contains vivid sex scenes.

Buy it here.


Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us

Kate Bornstein

In her memoir, Gender Outlaw, Bornstein writes about her transformation from a heterosexual IBM salesman, to a lesbian playwright. By talking about her experiences, albeit hilariously, Bornstein forces the reader to think about the answers to many important questions she raises- how people treat transgender people, what is really the definition of the word ‘gender’, and whether or not you should be allowed to choose your gender. Written in 1994, as a result of this book, Bornstein was considered a trailblazer in LGBT literature.

Buy it here.

Have you read any LGBT books? Do you feel you got a better understanding of the LGBT community after reading them? Do you have any recommendations? Share with us in the comments below.