Heart-warming books with queer protagonists to lift your spirit and make you smile.
If you’re not aware of the term “LGBT pride”, it refers to the promotion of self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a social group.
June is Pride month — the time of the year celebrated in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan that marked a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
To show your solidarity to the community and to make sure queer stories are heard as a part of the mainstream narrative, it’s important to read some books featuring queer main characters. Of course, it’s important to read queer stories all year long, but since June is pride month, this could be the perfect time to start, especially if you’ve never read a book with a queer protagonist before.
This post introduces three heart-warming LGBTQ+ romance books that will leave you with a smile on your face. Read on. Who knows, you might find your next favorite book among these.
(Note: The links mentioned in this article are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase these books through them, it will help me earn a small amount — at no extra cost to you. Thanks!)
1. How to be a Normal Person by TJ Klune
Gustavo Tiberius loves leading a predictable life. He wakes up at the same time every morning, has the same breakfast, goes to the video store he inherited from his father, and talks to his only three friends at lunchtime. Then, he comes back home, has the same dinner in front of the television, and goes to sleep at the same time each night.
Gus is settled. He loves routine.
But then, in comes Casey — the bearded, tattooed, long-haired, and inexplicably adorable nephew of his neighbor who turns Gus’s world upside down.
Casey smiles a lot and makes Gus blush.
Casey sends weird texts that make Gus’s stomach flip.
Conversations with Casey make Gus taste an emotion he hadn’t felt since his father died: happiness.
But Casey is normal and Gus isn’t. How will Gus ever make Casey like him back?
That’s how this absolutely hilarious and deliciously memorable book begins. You’ve got to read it to experience these characters I’ve grown to love as my own.
“Sometimes, Gus didn’t understand how he found himself in the situations that he did. Even if he was the common denominator, he obviously was not at fault. There had to be some other cosmic power that lorded over him. That made sense. Well, a lot of things made sense now that he was high.”
Why you should read this
One character (Gus) is a video store owner. The other (Casey) is an asexual stoner hipster who’s also a bestselling author. The interactions these two have are heartwarming and will make you smile like crazy.
But more than that, they will help you become more comfortable in your skin, to love yourself more despite what the world says. The book will help you embrace your imperfections and treat them as your characteristics, not flaws.
If I’d read this book as a teenager, my life would have been different. I wouldn’t have spent those endless hours trying to figure out why I was so different from my classmates and how could I ever fit in.
2. Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Luc is the paparazzi’s favorite celebrity — the failed son of an 80s rockstar couple (now divorced): unabashedly flamboyant, always inebriated, always making a fool of himself in social places. He can’t keep a job or a relationship, his house is a mess, and most nights, he ends up on the bathroom floor, crying to himself after yet another night of someone walking all over his self-esteem.
Oliver is a well-educated, well-respected barrister who works hard, loves his job, and has his life together. He lives in a pretty, organized house in one of the posh localities and has perfect parents with whom he talks regularly and has a functional relationship.
On paper, these two are polar opposites with Oliver seeming to be that unattainable dream-boyfriend Luc thought he would never deserve. But things aren’t always rosy for Oliver as well.
When Luc discovers what he hides behind his veneer of professionalism, he feels more drawn than ever. And as these two broken souls fight to find a way to each other through their imperfections, insecurities, and mental health issues, we readers get one hell of an emotional roller coaster.
“I don’t want fine. Fine isn’t enough. Isn’t not about the open fire or whatever other clichés you can conjure up, but yes, I want a connection. I want you to care as much as I care. I want you to need it and want it and mean it. I want it to matter.”
Why you should read this
In essence, this book is a light-hearted romance, but the characters are so well-written, they almost feel like friends you know in real life.
The premise is a cliche that’s been used over and over again in romance novels — two people need to be seen together for whatever reasons and they pretend to be in a relationship. During the course of their fake relationship, they start developing feelings for each other, and before they know it, the lines between what’s fake and what’s real blur, and they realize even deeper feelings might be involved than what they had bargained for in the beginning.
The trope might be tried and tested, but Alexis Hall executes it in a way that makes you smile and cry and fall in “Wuv” along the way.
3. You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson
Liz always thought she was too black, too poor, and too awkward to ever dream of becoming the “Prom Queen.”
But when her plans of getting into a prestigious college are crushed and the only way in is to win the crown, Liz is forced to compete in a race she didn’t know she was even qualified for.
And the biggest issue? Liz had only dated guys and always thought she was straight.
Unexpectedly, she starts liking the new girl in school, Mack, way too much for her comfort. Mack is smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz.
But Mack is also competing for Prom Queen. Will Liz’s feelings get in the way of achieving her dreams? Or will she prove to herself and the world that she can get what she wants without her identity and her emotions holding her back?
“I don’t believe in fairy tales and love at first sight and all that, but for just a second, I think this girl and those eyes and the way her freckles dot the entire expanse of her face are cute enough to make a believer out of me.”
Why you should read this
Aside from being a “typical” prom story, the book delves in deep, talking of mental health, the sense of belonging, and the transformative power of friendship. There’s a tenderness with which the author describes the love and friendship between the characters, making their interactions shine through and make a place for themselves in your heart.
If you like teenage prom stories with a coming-of-age arc and queer angle, you’ll definitely enjoy reading this one.
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