Nonfiction LGBTQIA+ Literature: Memoirs, Essays, and Histories Worth the Reading

Nonfiction LGBTQIA+ Literature: Memoirs, Essays, and Histories Worth the Reading

Literature has long provided a window into the diverse lives and experiences of LGBTQIA+ people. While fiction accounts may capture the imagination; nonfiction works of memoirs, essays, and history books offer raw, insightful, and often deeply personal perspectives. From coming-of-age stories to examinations of culture and identity, these nonfiction LGBTQIA+ works educate the readers.


Memoirs offer first-hand life stories from the LGBTQIA+ community. They provide intimate access to the struggles and triumphs that people have faced in discovering, accepting, and revealing their identities and sexualities to the world.

A few powerful memoir recommendations include:

- Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (2019) - An illustrated memoir that was created to depict their journey of self-identity using engaging visual storytelling. It intimately charts a path many LGBTQIA+ people relate to.

- Fun Home (2006) - This graphic memoir is written by the acclaimed cartoonist Alison Bechdel, examining her complex relationship with her gay father and also her own lesbian identity. It's a reflective coming-of-age account told through the artistic lens.

- Boy Erased (2016) - In this memoir, Garrard Conley details his harrowing experience of being outed as gay to his very religious parents and the "conversion therapy" he underwent as a result to try to make him straight. It sheds light on a critical LGBTQIA+ issue.


Essays offer better, more concise, focused perspectives on various LGTBQIA+ topics. They can analyze personal viewpoints or take broader, more academic approaches to discuss the issues impacting these communities.

Noteworthy LGBTQIA+ essay works include:

- Bad Feminist (2014) - In this collection of essays, author Roxane Gay explores modern culture and society through her lens as a feminist woman of color who identifies as bisexual. Her writing style is very insightful, entertaining, and brilliantly observant.

- "Gender Outlaws" (2010) - This anthology, edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman, brings together trans and genderqueer voices reflecting on their gender identity. The personal essays tackle gender from thought-provoking angles that many readers may find very eye-opening.

- Trick Mirror (2019) - Novelist Jia Tolentino reveals more of herself through her nine biting, confessional essays reflecting on the internet culture, social norms, and issues centering on identity as a woman coming of age in modern America. Her critiques offer a relatable context for young LGBTQIA+ readers.


Works of history around LGBTQIA+ experiences help to bring context and understanding to how these communities have been treated over the period and what rights they have fought for. They underscore the legitimacy of many queer identities often dangerously repressed by societies across the history.

Some of the most celebrated nonfiction history books about these communities include:

- The Gay Revolution (2015) - Written by the renowned LGBTQIA+ author Lillian Faderman, this expansive book documents the evolution of queer activism over a period throughout and leading up to marriage equality in 20th century America, offering a powerful record of this civil rights movement.

- Transgender History (2008) - "Professor Susan Stryker charts the little-known history of transgender and gender non-conforming people in America going back to the mid-20th century in this groundbreaking work showcasing how modern attitudes took root.

- "Queer America: A People's GLBT History of the United States" (2008) - Many may not know this, but Historian Vicki L. Eaklor provides a vastly comprehensive, first-of-its-kind overview revealing GLBT American history from colonial days onward through painful research and many years ago. This account fills a significant literary void.

Reading any of these memoirs, essays, or history books will provide many eye-opening insights and a deeper appreciation for the LGBTQIA+ experience. They offer wisdom applicable well beyond queer communities getting readers to think very critically about privilege, identity, and also human rights. Expand your mind and your empathy capacity by picking up one of these compelling nonfiction reads.

Presented by SHAVA, this article is part of our commitment to embracing the diversity within the transgender community. SHAVA stands in solidarity with transgender people of color, advocating for acceptance and allyship that recognize and celebrate the richness of their diverse experiences.

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