Have you ever gotten your hands on a great LGBTQ book, or got excited for a new tv show with queer characters, only to be let down by those lovely characters being killed off? Sometimes it’s to further the main character’s plot, sometimes it’s because of their identity, and sometimes…there’s just no reason. If you have then you have had the unfortunate run-in with the “Bury Your Gays” trope.
Originally, Bury Your Gays is a literary trope which originated in the late 19th century, gained traction in the early 20th century, and has continued to appear in novels, plays, films, and television series throughout the past one hundred plus years; it persists in western media in modern times despite changing social attitudes towards homosexuality and the LGBTQ+ community in general. In short, Bury Your Gays is no longer necessary, and its implementation is no longer the refuge it once was.
To help combat this trope, here are some of our favorite LGBTQ novels (with very much alive queer characters!) just in time for Pride Month!
Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal
When a birth defect wipes out the planet’s entire population of men, Woman World rises out of society’s ashes. Dhaliwal’s infectiously funny instagram comic follows the rebuilding process, tracking a group of women who have rallied together under the flag of “Beyonce’s Thighs.” Only Grandma remembers the distant past, a civilization of segway-riding mall cops, Blockbuster movie rental shops, and “That’s What She Said” jokes. For the most part, Woman World’s residents are focused on their struggles with unrequited love and anxiety, not to mention that whole “survival of humanity” thing.
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
Arguably Patricia Highsmith’s finest, The Price of Salt is the story of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce. They fall in love and set out across the United States, pursued by a private investigator who eventually blackmails Carol into a choice between her daughter and her lover.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last. Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, LESS is, above all, a love story.
The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before the car accident that changed everything. Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually end happily—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.
Girl Mans Up by M.E. Girard
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.
Let us know some of your faves!
Happy Reading and Happy Pride!