5 Banned LGBTQ+ Books I’m Thankful I Read
Awe-inspiring queer stories to make you introspect.
Sometimes books are restricted or banned because the topics they cover might be explicit for young readers.
Sadly, the list of banned books consists of some brilliant and life-changing books about the LGBTQ+ community and related themes.
The ideas discussed in these books are considered a threat to our so-called virtuous society.
But every book can serve a purpose and make sense to someone. These books can ignite the needed topics or conversations to make this world a better place. I am glad I came across these banned books that touched me.
1. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
Rose is a teenager who visits a lake house in Avago Beach with her parents every summer.
She eagerly waits for this family vacation to have a good time with her parents and her friend Windy. Windy is a year and a half younger than Rose and looks up to her.
One summer, Rose’s mom and dad start having nasty fights. She can sense the tension and realize her happy family is on the verge of breaking.
Rose and Windy find solace in each other as they discuss their problems. It is a summer when secrets unravel, and the girls experience different emotions while growing into women.
The graphics are perfectly used to depict particular emotions that you can’t speak in words. The book was banned maybe because of the heavy or mature topics and queer characters. But I think this story can broaden our mindset and understanding of what it means to grow up as a queer girl.
Favorite quotes from This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
“Don’t worry about any of this stuff, okay? It’s all just adult junk that doesn’t mean anything.”
“I guess if Dunc and I got married…..we would live in an apartment first. With regular jobs. Then. Then we would get good jobs.
And he would go to medical school.
And I would take time off to have one.
2. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Gender Queer is an outstanding autobiographical comic written by Maia Kobabe, who coined the pronouns e/em/eir.
Maia shares eir journey to self-discovery and the obstacles faced in this memoir. The book talks about:
- The importance of understanding gender identity for teenagers and adults,
- How to come out to family and society,
- Bonding with genuine friends, and
- The traumatic relationship of a queer person with their body.
Besides Maia’s touching story, the book can serve as an excellent guide on gender identity.
This book was banned because our society’s restrictive mindset still thinks LGBTQ+ stories as a threat. The graphical representation of the author’s self-discovery makes it intriguing about the emotions e goes through. The book also highlights the importance of understanding gender identity from a young age and living a life free from restraints.
Favorite quotes from Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe are:
“Sometimes I feel like my brain is a machine built by someone who lost the instruction manual.”
“Everyone around me — but especially girls — seemed to have access to information I lacked.”
3. All Boys aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
All Boys Aren’t Blue is one of the most impactful books that was unfortunately banned.
In a series of breathtaking and inspiring essays, the author George M. Johnson shares his childhood experiences and college days' stories.
He reminisces his bitter memories of being bullied at age five, his first sexual experience, and some loving memories with his grandmother.
This young adult memoir by the author, who is also an LGBTQIA+ activist and a well-known journalist, perfectly depicts the struggles of Black queer boys. The book covers many topics that need to be addressed, such as
- toxic masculinity,
- gender identity,
- the importance of consent,
- sex education,
- brotherhood, and
The book is not only relatable to the LGBTQ+ youth who want to discover themselves but also to the readers who never felt understood by their family or peers.
Ridiculously, this book was said to be “sexually explicit” and then banned, even though it raises topics that should be discussed freely. I truly wish that books like All Boys Aren’t Blue could be read at least once by the young generation.
My favorite quotes from All Boys Aren’t Blue
“You sometimes don’t know you exist until you realize someone like you existed before.”
“Many of us connect with each other through trauma and pain: broken people finding other broken people in the hopes of fixing one another.”
4. A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara
A is for Activist is one of the most controversial books about activism, LGBTQ+ rights, civil rights, and environmental justice in a playful manner for a progressive young generation.
This children’s board book has beautiful illustrations and rhyming that intrigues them while discussing these critical topics. Parents that want to raise their children in a space where everyone is equal, respected for their choices, and aware of environmental issues should start early and read this book to them.
Banned in 2020, A is for Activist is a book that can initiate many necessary discussions between parents and children. This book is considered inappropriate for children and has hard-to-understand vocabulary for kids. But I think it can spark many curiosities in the younger generation and is hence, a must-read.
5. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home is a touching graphic memoir that shows Alison Bechdel’s complex bond with her late father and her tragic experience of coming out as a lesbian. If the name sounds familiar, Alison Bechdel is known for originating the Bechdel Test that measures the representation of women in film (and, by extension, in fiction in general).
In her autobiography, Alison Bechdel discusses family issues, conservatism, and societal stereotypes that altogether led to a tragedy.
Bruce Bechdel is an English teacher who is strict with his daughter Alison. He is the director of the town funeral home, also referred to as Fun Home by Alison’s family.
Alison discovers her father was gay shortly after she came out as a lesbian. But a few weeks after that, her father was found dead, leaving Alison with no choice but to resolve the mystery behind her father’s untimely death.
This tragicomic shows the complexity of child-parent relationships, specific gender roles decided by society, stereotypes, homophobia, and sexual preferences.
Many people like Bruce Bechdel have lived fake lives in unhappy relationships due to societal pressure. Though this book was banned for its explicit, graphic images, I recommend it to anyone struggling to come out and own their gender identity.
Favorite quotes from Fun Home by Alison Bechdel are:
“It was a vicious cycle, though. The more gratification we found in our own geniuses, the more isolated we grew.”
“I’d been upstaged, demoted from protagonist in my own drama to comic relief in my parents’ tragedy”
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