June is Pride Month, a celebration of LGBTQ+ identities, culture and communities. Dallas and Houston held pride parades a few weeks ago and there have been countless other ways to mark the occasion, from art markets to performances across the state.
For those who are looking for LGBTQ books with a Texas edge this June, we have some recommendations from Tina Van Winkle, a librarian at the Austin Public Library:
“Kenzie Kickstarts a Team” by Kit Rosewater and Sophie Escabasse – recommended by one of Van Winkle’s colleagues in youth services – is about a pair of best friends who start a roller derby team in Austin. Ages 8-12.
“At that age, they’re navigating the ups and downs of working together to achieve their goals, but also that really messy and confusing time of first crushes and evolving friendships,” Van Winkle said. “There’s LGBTQ representation across the team, as well as with the adults in their lives.”
“Orpheus Girl” by Brynne Rebele-Henry is a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in present-day rural Texas.
“There’s two friends who are outed in their community, and they are sent to a religious conversion therapy camp to ‘cure their gayness,'” Van Winkle said. “It has a poetic voice. The author is also a poet, and it really looks to identity and self-reliance and just this experience of kind of finding your community even when it’s difficult.”
“Lot,” Bryan Washington’s debut collection of interconnected short stories, is set in the working-class communities of Houston.
“We have kind of an unnamed narrator who’s discovering his own sexuality, and he’s exploring his relationship to a place and to time and to community and really through this kaleidoscope of cultures in Houston,” Van Winkle said.
“Are you Listening?“ is a graphic novel from Tillie Walden, who grew up in Austin, featuring magical realism and a road trip across West Texas.
“These two queer women run into each other on the road, and then they’re tasked with taking a strange cat back to its home,” Van Winkle said. “It’s really dreamlike and weird, but it has, like, wonderful vistas of West Texas.”
“Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza“ by Gloria E. Anzaldúa, published in 1987, is a collection of essays, both in poetry and prose.
“She’s a Chicano lesbian, and she draws on her personal experience to explore like those invisible borders between identities and groups of people,” Van Winkle said.
“How We Fight For Our Lives“ by Saeed Jones, a newer entry into queer literary canon, is about growing up as a Black gay man in Lewisville, Texas, and finding one’s own place in community and in family.
New and upcoming releases
“Shoot the Moon“ by Isa Arsén (expected publication October 2023) is about a queer woman working as a NASA engineer in the 60s during the Space Race.
“There’s a pair of young men who kind of are exploring their feelings for one another, and then a mystery pops up,” Van Winkle said. “There’s kind of a cool mashup of genres going on here.”