Updated: Nov 18
It’s National Book Month—celebrate with these Black Queer Authors!
Come Observe #NationalBookMonth with Gaye Magazine! Each October, National Book Month allows us to celebrate intersections within our communities and expand our love of reading.
The Queer spectrum includes the Black Experience, Trans and Queer-identifying folks, and even - cousins that come out later in life. This year we're adding to that spectrum by bringing you Black queer literature to read and digest.
Check out our 2022 National Book Month suggestions below. Each book was handpicked by our "Favorite Librarian" Forrest. Say Hello and scroll this article for a book title that stands out to you!
1) “Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew” by Michael W. Twitty
The James Beard Award-winning author of the acclaimed The Cooking Gene explores the cultural crossroads of Jewish and African diaspora cuisine and issues of memory, identity, and food.
Queer excellence exists in many spaces—even the culinary world with many colors. In KosherSoul, Michael W. Twitty considers the marriage of two of the most distinctive culinary cultures in the world today: the foods and traditions of the African Atlantic and the global Jewish diaspora. Take a bite (or a read) into a world of cuisine and explore a colorful community.
2) “Dick & Donuts: A Conjectured Collection of How Studs Ain't Shit” by Nkenge Browner
This collection of poetry colorfully illustrates how a Black Femme navigates the politics of desirability, the complexities of dating, and how some masculine present women aren’t about sh*%t. Explore the beauty, struggle and love in Black Lesbian relationships. This is her second book, where she takes us deeper into the relationship dynamics in the urban lesbian community.
3) “A Garden for Black Boys: Between the Stages of Soil and Stardust” by W.J. Lofton
This collection of poetry is a refreshing look at what a safe space for Black Queer healing looks like. Step into a world where tough questions are unpacked and answers are presented raw, extremely intimate, and containing a breath of their own. Each poem applauds the humanity of black people, that is often overlooked in America. Inspired by tragedy, the continual shootings of unarmed black men and women, the author labors out a rallying cry that not only wreaks of grief but determined hope; a possibility to see a better tomorrow.
4) “The Black Trans Prayer Book” by Dane Figueroa Edidi and J Mase III
This interfaith and beyond faith collection of poems, spells, incantations, theological narrative and visual offerings by Black Trans, Non-Binary and Intersex people is definitely worth exploring. Beautifully re-claim your divinity and celebrating our essentiality - the "Black Trans Prayer Book" demands space for the brilliance of the many healers and spirit workers in our community. The pair that crafted this title are also working on a documentary. For more information about the title or documentary, check out @theblacktransprayerbook on IG or their official website.
5) “Beautiful Bottom, Beautiful Shame: Where Black Meets Queer” by Kathryn Bond Stockton
Shame is a trauma and an emotion often weaponized to persecute the queer community for decades.
When and why have certain forms of shame been embraced by blacks and queers? Stockton asserts that there is no clear, mirrored relation between the terms “black” and “queer”; rather, seemingly definitive associations attached to each are often taken up or crossed through by the other. Stockton explores dramatic switch points between these terms: the stigmatized “skin” of some queers’ clothes, the description of blacks as an “economic bottom,” the visual force of interracial homosexual rape, and the complicated logic of so-called same-sex miscegenation (the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types). In this book, Stockton engages the domains of African American studies, Queer and film theory, photography, semiotics, and gender studies. See, there’s a book out there for you!
6) “The Prophets” by Robert Jones Jr.
Voted “Best Book of the Year” by NPR , The Washington Post, and the Boston Globe--- This Finalist for the National Book Award is also one of the New York Times' Notable Books of the Year and Best Historical Fiction of the Year.
This debut novel about a forbidden union and queer love between two enslaved young Black men on a deep south plantation is surreal. The refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence is, simply refreshing. Isaiah was Samuel's and Samuel was Isaiah's. But when an older man— a fellow slave seeks to gain favor by preaching the master's gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel's love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation's harmony. As tensions build and the weight of centuries - of ancestors and future generations to come - culminates in a climactic reckoning, “The Prophets” discloses the shame and suffering of inheritance. Yet, it provides hope, beauty, and truth, portraying heroic power of love with Isaiah and Samuel. This historical fiction is lives up to being an instant bestseller and is surely a must-have!
7) “Refusing Compulsory Sexuality: A Black Asexual Lens on Our Sex-Obsessed Culture” by Sherronda J. Brown
This must-have Black Queer feminist exploration of asexuality has something for every reader. An incisive interrogation of the sex-obsessed culture that invisibilizes and ignores asexual and A-spec identity. With chapters on desire, f*ckability, utility, refusal, and possibilities, Refusing Compulsory Sexuality discusses topics of deep relevance to ace and a-spec communities. It centers the Black asexual experience--and demands visibility in a world that pathologizes and denies asexuality, denigrates queerness, and specifically sexualizes Black people. Sherronda J. Brown brilliantly advocates for the “A” in LGBTQIA+, affirming that to be asexual is to be queer--despite the gatekeeping and denial that often says otherwise.
8) “The Queens' English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases” by Chloe O. Davis
The first of its kind, this landmark reference guides how the LGBTQIA+ community beautifully contributes to the English language. This intersectional and colorfully illustrated glossary features more than 800 terms and fabulous phrases created by and for queer culture. The glossary of terms is supported by full-color illustrations and photography throughout, as well as real-life usage examples for those who don't quite know how to use “kiki,” “polysexual,” or “transmasculine” in a sentence. Davis also cites how Black and brown communities and The Ballroom scene has individually shaped queer lingo and language. For every queen in your life—the men, women, gender non-conforming femmes, butches, daddies, and zaddies—The Queens’ English is at once an education and a celebration of queer history, identity, and the limitless imagination of the LGBTQIA+ community.
9) “From Christendom to Freedom: Journey-Making with a Black Transgender Elder” by Jonathon Thunderword
In "From Christendom to Freedom: Journey-Making with a Black Transgender Elder", Jonathon Thunderword offers his spiritual autobiography, tracing his path from Christianity into Judaism and beyond. Stories include anecdotes and observations of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism as well as his engagement with the psychology of religion and non-believers. Each chapter includes 4-6 episodes from Jonathon's life--and each episode ends with one or more questions that invite the reader to reflect on their own journey, needs, and perspectives. This book is a Perfect must-have for readers looking for a spiritual home or to find a faith-based practice to explore. Thunderword is also an omni-faith, multi-spiritual practitioner who is a part of the Mata Amritanandamayi Center. He was an ordained Christian minister under both the National Baptist Convention and the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. He converted to Judaism and now lives in a Hindu ashram with his partner. See, gayes! There’s a book out there for you. Continue reading!
10) “Black. Queer. Southern. Women: An Oral History” by E. Patrick Johnson
From one of the most prolific Black Queer authors, E. Patrick Johnson’s must-have is a love letter to the hidden love and world of Black Queer womyn. Drawn from the life narratives of more than seventy African American queer women who were born, raised, and continue to reside in the American South. This book powerfully reveals the way these women experience and express racial, sexual, gender, and class identities--all linked by a place where such identities have generally placed them on the margins of society.
These breathtakingly rich life histories show afresh how black female sexuality is and always has been an integral part of the patchwork quilt that is southern culture.