When you think of LGBTQ History you probably immediately go back to the Stonewall Riots or the Aids/HIV Pandemic back in the 80’s. In reality, LGBTQ history is still being made some 40 years on. Sometimes on a daily basis.
In 2022, we’ve already witnessed the first Trans actress to win a Golden Globe and last year saw LGBTQ history being made across Sport, Politics and Film. LGBTQ people are more than our identities, however it needs to be celebrated when milestones are achieved by LGBTQ people. The reason for this is simply because, decades ago, we would have been kept away from achieving these things. Simply because of who we are.
One of the wonderful ways to learn about our rich history is to listen or read about it direct from the person making history. There are plenty of LGBTQ documentaries out there, but books offer a different perspective. Whether the author is an athlete, a member of parliament or musician; everyone’s story is valid and allows our history to be as diverse as possible.
For LGBTQ History Month, I’ve collated a couple of our favourite LGBTQ+ Autobiographies and Memoirs. By members of the LGBTQ community. Some of these are from our own collection, others have been recommended to us by friends, family and followers. If you would like to recommend some to us, feel free to let us know in the comments section below.
Please note: This post features affiliate links where I will earn a little bit of money for every purchase made via my link.
A Dutiful Boy by Mohsin Zaidi
I first heard about A Dutiful Boy when I was listening to an episode of Homo Sapiens. It was absolutely fascinating listening to Mohsin and what it was like growing up in a Muslim household as a gay person.
A Dutiful Boy follows Mohsin’s journey through family life, love and being authentic to yourself; even if you’re faced with several challenges along the way.
Mama’s Boy: A Memoir
Another Podcast find, this time via Out with Suzi Ruffell, Mama’s Boy is a memoir by Dustin Lance Black. For me and many others, he is best known for writing the Oscar-winning screenplay for Milk as well as being an LGBTQ Activist, Producer and Director. He also happens to be Olympic Gold Medallist, Tom Daley’s, husband!
Mama’s Boy follow’s Black whilst growing up in a conservative Mormon household in Texas, and then later when he comes out to his family. This book shares topics on religion, identity and politic, and is a fascinating read.
Skin: It Takes Blood and Guts
Deborah Anne Dyer, better known by their stage name ‘Skin’, is a British singer, songwriter and DJ and is the lead vocalist for Skunk Anansie.
If you were anything like me in the 90’s and 00’s you would have grown up listening to Skunk Anansie.
It Takes Blood and Guts explores Skin’s early years, growing up in a working class, Jamaican family as well through the 1990’s Britpop years. Expect conversations around intersectionality and microaggressions.
“It’s not supposed to be easy, particularly if you’re a woman, you’re black or you are gay like me.“
I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves by Ryan O’Connell
Recommended to us by our friends 2 Dads and a Little Lad, I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves “will educate twentysomethings (or other adolescents-at-heart) on what NOT to do if they ever want to become happy fully functioning grown-ups with a 401k and a dog.” The book has even made it’s way onto Netflix, which aired in 2019.
The book talks honestly and earnestly about being a gay man and the complexities of having cerebral palsy, while also making politically incorrect jokes as seen on his blog; Thought Catalogue. Ryan O’Connell is a writer, director, comedian, as well as an LGBT Activist and Disability Advocate.
Over The Top: My Story by Jonathan Van Ness
Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you will probably know who Jonathan Van Ness (aka JVN). If not, then you should at least know the show Queereye.
JVN is a gorgeous, flamboyant bundle of pure joy, and Over the Top details the “pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-love and acceptance that Jonathan is today”.
As well as an author, JVN is also an American hairdresser, podcast host, activist, actor, and television personality. In 2020, Van Ness also released a children’s picture book titled Peanut goes for the Gold.
Will Young: To Be a Gay Man
Although better known for being the first winner of Pop Idol, Will Young is now a multi-platinum recording artist and Olivier-nominee, as well as Actor and Podcast co-host.
This book takes you back to pre-Pop Idol and talks about Young’s life when being called “gay” in school came with long-term internal shame and low self-esteem throughout childhood and beyond.
“Here you will find a friend, champion and mentor, breaking taboos with frank honesty, and offering invaluable practical advice on overcoming the difficult issues too often faced within the LGBTQ+ community.“
Me: Elton John (An Official Autobiography)
What is there to say about Elton John?
This book starts from the very beginning and takes you on a wild journey through childhood, his career and addiction, all the way to marriage and parenthood with husband David Furnish.
The book is everything you’d expect.
It’s fun, racy, candid and honest.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
Our only biomythography (narrative that combines myth, history, and biography) on the list is by American poet Audre Lorde.
Lorde writes that “Zami” is “a Carriacou name for women who work together as friends and lovers“. Carriacou is the Caribbean island from which Lorde’s mother immigrated. Lorde begins Zami writing that “she owes her power and strength to the women in her life, and much of the book is devoted to detailed portraits of other women“.
A more detailed plot summary can be found here.
In Their Shoes
Jamie Windust is an award-winning non-binary writer, model and speaker from London, and has been named as one of London’s most influential people.
In Their Shoes is Jamie’s first book and details life as a non-binary person; sharing stories from their childhood to ones about fashion, dating and mental health. Within the book they also address some of the many challenges faced by trans people. A must-read.
“Frank, funny, and brilliantly feisty, this must-read book is a call to arms for non-binary self-acceptance, self-appreciation and self-celebration.”
This Much is True: Miriam Margoyles
Miriam Margoyles (OBE) is a National Treasure, and a hilarious one at that.
Whether you know her as Professor Sprout (Harry Potter) or The Nurse from 90’s flick Romeo & Juliet, you’re bound to know Miriam Margoyles. Thanks to shows such as The Real Marigold and Miriam & Alan, she’s become quite the icon and is subject of several Tik Tok videos!
This Much is True is an invitation into Miriam’s world; sharing some of the most bizarre, outrageous encounters you’ll ever read about; from one involving The Queen to posing nude as a teenager.
“From the moment a doctor put ‘male’ on Jacob Tobia’s birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside ‘male’ came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, words like ‘masculine’ and ‘aggressive’ and ‘cargo shorts’ and ‘SPORTS]’ Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label sissy“.
Through Jacob’s lens, this story invites you to challenge all that you know about Gender. Revisit Jacob’s childhood to their visit to the White House. This heartwarming, candid book will make you laugh and cry.
Tom Daley: Coming Up for Air
Even if you’re not into The Olympics or Diving, Tom Daley should be a recognisable name to most. Following the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Daley is now the most decorated British diver of all time.
Married to screenwriter and LGBTQ Activist Dustin Lance Black, Daley is also a father and avid crochetier.
Coming Up for Air is a Sunday Times Best Seller and offers a unique insight into Tom’s life as a father, a husband, activist and athlete.
Gareth Thomas: Proud
Captain of the Welsh Rugby team as well as the British Lions, Rugby allowed Gareth Thomas to lead men and be everything; apart from himself.
In 2009, Gareth Thomas (CBE) came out as Gay; making him the first openly gay professional rugby union player. In 2019, he announced that he is HIV positive. Since then, he has actively campaigned to “break the stigma” around the illness.
Proud details “the story of a man with a secret that was slowly killing him”.
Billie Jean King
Our final book and sportsperson featured in this list is All In by Billie Jean King; a detailed reflection of Jean’s tennis career and activism within the social justice world.
Famous for her watershed defeat of Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes”, King spent six years as the top-ranked woman in the world, with twenty Wimbledon championships under her belt as well as thirty-nine grand-slam titles.
“[Billie Jean King] offers insights and advice on leadership, business, activism, sports, politics, marriage equality, parenting, sexuality, and love“
If you’ve enjoyed reading about these incredible members of our community, why not check out Gays The Word. They have an amazing collection of LGBTQ+ Autobiographies and Memoirs. Alternatively, check out some of our other favourite LGBTQ+ Autobiographies and Memoirs over at our Amazon Storefront! LGBTQ+ Autobiographies and Memoirs LGBTQ+ Autobiographies and Memoirs
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