To some people, LGBTQ pride ends on July 1st — storefronts fold up their pride flags, switch rainbow icons back to regular logos on social media, and wait until next June to talk about LGBTQ anything ever again. But it doesn’t have to be that way! To help you continue your celebration, here are some recommendations for LGBTQ media that we’ve been enjoying!
Birthday By Meredith Russo
I’ve recommended this book before on POMEmag, but I wanted to spend more time gushing about it. The premise of Birthday is that two kids, named Morgan and Eric, are born on the same day in a hospital during a snowstorm. Their parents bond and the two kids develop a deep, complicated friendship, which is amplified by the individualized trauma both of these characters go through. As Morgan deals with the death of her mother and struggling with her gender identity, Eric is caught up in his father’s abusive familial structure that violently forces him to restrict his self expression. Though Russo is unflinching in showing how life can be hell sometimes, she also makes sure to give you an ending that will make you so happy these two kids found each other. It’s an excellent example of trans fiction coming from the Young Adult genre.
Content Warnings: Parental death, cancer, familial abuse, homophobia, transphobia, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt
The Bold Type
TV Show, 2017-Present
The Bold Type is the embodiment of summer viewing. It’s an exaggerated take on three twenty-something year old women living in New York City and working for a fashion magazine. One of its main characters, Kat, provides an interesting look at someone who is trying to explore her sexuality as a queer black woman. She is far from perfect — she struggles with making the right decisions between her work obligations and her interpersonal relationships — but these flaws make her all the more likeable. She is not afraid to acknowledge that she has to work on things, and we get to watch her grow because of it. We also get to see her learn about the weight of being a member of the LGBTQ community and to watch her do what she can to connect with the community and provide support. In general, The Bold Type is also a pretty breezy show to watch, considering some of the heavier topics it addresses. It’s fun — with its fashion shoot drama, discussions of the deeper meaning of the fashion industry, and how all these characters come together because of their love for this world. It will definitely scratch an itch similar to The Devil Wears Prada and Project Runway, but with more heart.
Content Warnings: Sexual assault, sexual content, homophobia, racism, death, cancer
Boy Meets Boy By David Levithan
Boy Meets Boy was one of the first books I ever read that focused on LGBTQ characters. It’s also one of the few books that I make myself revisit every few years, because of its influence on my life as a queer person, and as a writer. I think a lot of my love for the book is based on the fact that David Levithan aggressively created a world that embraced every aspect of LGBTQ people. In this world, a boy named Paul totally flubs trying to be with a classmate named Noah, and now he has to fight against the odds to try to get Noah back. This story features a lot of the classic young adult romance beats, but with some fun world building quirks. With our world being the way that it is, I strongly recommend escaping to the utopia that Levithan creates.
Content Warning: Religion-related homophobia
History Is All You Left Me By Adam Silvera
Adam Silvera has gained quite a bit of traction in the Young Adult world for his ability to write some good gay angst. History Is All You Left Me is one of his earlier examples of this storytelling. This is a nonlinear story in which the protagonist, Griffin, tries to process the death of his ex-boyfriend Theo by connecting with Theo’s boyfriend at the time of his death, Jackson. Silvera is not afraid to explore the complicated feelings of exes, grief, and depression, and while parts of this story are brutal, Silvera always finds a way to not tip over the edge of complete hopelessness. YA novels are a great place to find complicated LGBTQ representation for many reasons and Silvera is a master. Not only is he unafraid to explore these complexities, but he’s able to create a story format that keeps you hooked the entire time.
Content Warnings: Drowning, emotional abuse, homophobia
Jonny Appleseed By Joshua Whitehead
Jonny Appleseed is a book focused on the life of its titular character, a Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer who has left the reservation he grew up on only to be pulled back to it for his stepfather’s funeral. As Jonny tries to make enough money to travel back to his reservation, he reflects on the life he’d had there, specifically on his memories of his grandmother, as well as on his life since leaving, much of which features other indigenous people who left. Whitehead allows Jonny to speak to these experiences through a stream of consciousness, where connecting threads are based on his emotional connections to all these aspects of his life. It’s an excellent example of a novel that will make you feel legitimately every emotion with Jonny. Yes, there will be moments of pain within the story, but there will also be moments of joy.
Content Warnings: Death, abuse, sexual assault, explicit sexual content, colonial violence
Momentary Lapse of Happily by Adult Mom
Adult Mom is an ethereal-sounding band based out of New York state. Momentary Lapse of Happily is an album that was conceived after frontperson and songwriter Steph Knipe went through three consecutive breakups. The album is the result of them trying to make sense of who they were after these experiences. The result is an album full of raw lyrics. Whether they are relatable to your own experiences or not, it feels like a privilege to be able to hear Knipe acknowledge the pain of their past and turn it into a rallying cry of self love. The song “Survival” shows flashes of this through Knipe’s acknowledging that they have changed after being abused; they “have survived because [they] have died.” Other times, the theme of survival is framed in a somewhat softer manner through songs like “Be Your Own 3am,” which suggests that sometimes your recovery is going to be a personal experience and that you should embrace it. It’s definitely worth listening to, especially if you’re someone who needs the reassurance that there are other queer people who are trying their best in the world.
Content Warnings: Abuse, suicidal ideation
My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame
My Brother’s Husband is a major moment in terms of LGBTQ content in Japan. The mangaka, Gengoroh Tagame, is known for his sexually explicit gay manga. While he certainly enjoys creating this type of content, he decided to go in a different direction by creating an all ages manga focused on Yaichi, his daughter Kana, and Mike, the Canadian husband of his recently deceased brother. The narrative alternates between the bond that is forged between these three people and providing a model for readers to work out their own prejudices and misconceptions about the gay community. Tagame takes the time to create a story that is enjoyable and heartwarming for LGBTQ audiences, while also providing a template for heterosexual audiences to develop a more humanized understanding of us. There’s also the added bonus that the art is absolutely gorgeous.
Content Warning: Homophobia
Please Like Me
TV Show, 2014-2016
Please Like Me’s show description on Hulu is about how “life in your 20s can be undeniably hard.” While the description may cause most people who are experiencing life in their twenties to roll their eyes, I would argue that this show might actually nail it. Josh and his friends are individual messes, with issues ranging from mental illness, lack of life skills, and employment stress, to complicated relationship dynamics with families and partners. Josh is at the center of it as one of the biggest messes on the show, supporting his mother through a mental illness crisis, his father through a midlife crisis, and exploring his sexuality as a gay person after breaking up with his longterm girlfriend. Even when the show goes in darker directions, it still finds the humor in life. One of my personal favorite crises in the show is when the characters have to come together to kill and prepare a rooster named Adele, resulting in a very moving tribute to their feathered friend.
Content Warnings: Homophobia, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, sexual content, death, mental illness-related hospitalization, self harm
TV Show, 2018-Present
A lot of people have been promoting Pose for its dedication to telling the story of New York City ball culture during the late eighties and early nineties, predominantly focused on fictional trans women of color played by trans women of color. It’s also worth a watch because it has been able to really tap into the beauty of how found family structures can flourish in LGBTQ spaces. One of the main characters, Blanca Evangelista, spends a lot of her time mentoring LGBTQ youth and developing a powerful maternal leadership style that makes her a character worth celebrating. Pose makes a point to showcase a variety of characters, instead of pretending that any one of them is a monolith of the LGBTQ experience. Instead, Pose creates incredibly human characters whom we get to see struggle and succeed, sometimes over the course of one episode. Importantly, as a period drama, the show introduces aspects of LGBTQ history that may have gotten lost to time. It might make you cry sometimes, but you’ll probably find yourself crying out of joy more often than not.
Content Warnings: AIDS-related death, abuse, sexual content, sexual assault, homophobia, transphobia, murder, major character death in season 2, episode 4
The Upside of Unrequited By Becky Albertalli
Becky Albertalli is known for her first book Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, whose film adaptation, Love, Simon was released last year. In her second novel, Albertalli focuses on a straight girl named Molly (work with me here…), her lesbian twin sister and her two moms. Not only is Molly a great protagonist who provides excellent fat and mental illness representation, but her family provides a possibility model of sorts for LGBTQ people who may not always be able to see a family structure like hers. Even with this potentially unique family structure, Molly still finds herself in common teenage predicaments, such as trying to figure out if, after twenty-six crushes, she is ready to actively pursue someone. Plus, if you’re a fan of Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, you will probably be happy to hear that it’s set in the same universe!
While it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and conclusion of Pride Month, these pieces of media reiterate that our lives and work extend well beyond the month of June. Hopefully, these recommendations are helpful in engaging you in LGBTQ work, or inspiring you to create your own!
Further Recommendations from the POMEcoven —
Movies: But I’m A Cheerleader (1999), Hearts Beats Loud (2018), Signature Move (2017), Buka Bukas (2016), Fish Bones (2018), Big Eden (2001), Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994), Bound (1996).
TV: y’all we are so serious about Pose, there’s a new season of Queer Eye coming out on Friday!!, Legend of Korra.
Music: Hayley Kiyoko, Kim Petras, Janelle Monae, Tegan and Sara, Sleater Kinney.
Books: A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017), we do love some cheesy lesbian audiobooks, My Lady’s Choosing (an interactive romance novel).
Comics: Rock It, GIRL!!! (2016), I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up (2019), Accept my Fist of Love! (2018), Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (2019), What Did You Eat Yesterday (2007).