Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.
For Pride Month this year, I decided to put together the biggest and most ambitious book recommendation post ever. Not only would I recommend queer books for Pride Month, I’d consciously recommend queer books written by and about queer and/or disabled people of colour — the books that people often complain they can’t find, even though they are being talked about, are being hyped, are being loved, were always here.
My book recommendation list, which I started putting together in March, grew and grew and grew until it was 102 books. So rather than have one huge book recommendation posts, I decided to split them into five posts!
The posts you’ll get during June are:
- 21 Books with Gay and M/M Rep To Read and Love During Pride Month!
- 23 Books with Sapphic & F/F Rep To Brighten Your Reading During Pride Month!
- 22 Books with Bisexual & Pansexual Rep That I Loved – and You’ll Love Too!
- A Love Letter to 18 Books with Questioning, Asexual and Aromantic Rep; You are Valid
- The Beauty Beyond the Binary; 20 Books with Trans, Non-Binary, and Genderqueer Rep
Today, I’m so excited to share with you my 21 recommendations of books with gay and m/m rep! I love so many of the books on this list, and I’m so excited for you to meet them and feel excited about them too. The diversity within this list is incredible – all of these books tell a great story, have something meaningful to say, and center on the most wonderful characters. You’re going to love them!
Books with Gay Representation
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
This is a gem of a middle-grade book. King and the Dragonflies is a heartfelt, poignant, and bittersweet portrait of grief — and I loved it immensely.
- Follows Kingston “King” James, a Black boy who lives in the Louisiana bayou with his parents and is grieving the death of his older brother. When his former best friend goes missing and King is the last person to see him, he seeks him out.
- Despite being a short book, King and the Dragonflies profoundly explores sexuality and being a young gay Black boy surrounded by anti-gay sentiment, friendship, and grief.
- The atmosphere in this was incredible. It captures the air of living in the country – charming but also imperfect in its bigotry – and imbues it with hints of magical realism.
Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshio
What is depicted in Anger is a Gift will be topical and relevant to current events — but it is nonetheless a vital and important book about teen activism and the importance of protest.
- Follows Moss, a Black Latinx gay teen who becomes a teen activist, who fights against the oppressive practices enforced by the police at his school.
- Anger is a Gift is an amazing and nuanced examination of activism, police brutality, racism, and how oppression is systemic and disproportionately affects not only people of colour, but particularly poor people of colour.
- Emotional, powerful, and extremely accessible for people who may be new to social justice.
Timekeeper by Tara Sim
An oldie but a goodie! If you like stories with interesting worldbuilding, soft romances, and an exciting plot, then try Timekeeper.
- Set in alternate England, this book follows Danny, a gay teen with anxiety and PTSD and a prodigy clock mechanic who falls in love with a clock spirit, Colton.
- As previously mentioned, the worldbuilding was fantastic and so unique. It’s set in a world where Time is controlled by clock towers (damaged clock towers can fracture time!) and clock spirits inhabit them.
- The soft and interesting romance between Danny and Colton pulls the story along, and I liked the unique challenges they face with Colton being a clock spirit.
Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
This is a book that devastates slowly. It is a masterpiece and one of the most nuanced books I have read. This book is unjustly underappreciated and under-read. Please, please read this book.
- Follows Danny, a Chinese-American teen and son of immigrants, whose life is turned upside down when he discovers a mysterious box containing secrets that link his family to a buried past.
- It’s a story about heartbreaking circumstances, the terrible choices we make and the tragedy of the consequences that take years to snowball. It’s about family, it’s about love, and it’s about… life.
- Picture Us In The Light also has a subplot where Danny gradually falls in love with his best friend and slowly understands that he is gay.
Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu
In the mood for a graphic novel/webcomic? Love the idea of ice hockey and a gay love story? Then you’d love Check, Please!
- Follows Bitty, a gay former junior figure skating champion, vlogger, and now ice hockey player as he joins his hockey team in his first year of college.
- I really loved how soft and wholesome this was, especially the slow-burn attraction and romance. Though I would’ve loved to see the couple more, the build-up was lovely.
- Check, Please! also explores male relationships and friendships, particularly in the context of sport, and also the college experience.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
How about a story in verse about a mixed-race Black boy with beautiful illustrations and powerful poetry? I loved this book with my whole heart and you absolutely need to read Black Flamingo.
- Follows Michael, a mixed (Jamaican and Greek-Cypriot) Black teen, as he grows up from a young child to going to university, and how he navigate the intersections of his identities and incredible moments in his life.
- Explores Michael’s gay identity and his phases of questioning, what it’s like being Black and mixed race, the imperfection and earnestness of family, the relationships that shape who he is, and how he discovers and finds himself through drag.
- This book explores the intersections of identity and how they shape lives, and Atta does this beautifully and without missing a beat.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a book my co-blogger, Joce, whole-heartedly recommends. When I asked her what it was about, she described it as ‘exquisite’ and left her completely broken — or, in her plain words, ‘the book crawls inside your body until you die’.
- Described as a letter from a son to his illiterate mother, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous explores being an immigrant in the US, being gay, and death and dying.
- Ocean is a poet – and his raw poetic voice emerges throughout the story, evoking pain, emotion, and leans into the ugly as well.
- The book explores being growing up as a gay man, being Vietnamese, loneliness, a mother-and-son relationship, and war.
Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
I recommended this last month in my ‘queer historical’ book recommendation list, and it is worthwhile highlighting this queer historical gem again!
- Set in 1989 America, this book follows three teens as they navigate sexuality, friendship, and love during the AIDs crisis.
- The book has an m/m romance, with a closeted gay Iranian character, out gay character, and a fat character!
- This book explores gay identity during a time when ‘being gay’ was heavily associated with men dying of AIDs – and the impact this association had on how queer identity was understood.
Books with M/M Romances
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
In case you haven’t read this YA classic, then More Happy Than Not is a great read for Pride. This is a YA with science-fiction elements – think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets a m/m romance.
- Follows Aaron, a queer, poor Latinx teen who is struggling after the suicide of his father and his own attempt. As he recovers, supported by his girlfriend and family, he meets Thomas – and the two form an undeniable connection.
- This book is really heavy – so please look up trigger/content warnings before diving into this book – but –
- More Happy Than Not explores mental illness, sexuality, acceptance, the complexities of family and friendship, the oppression of poverty, and the meaning and importance of happiness.
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
A Taste of Honey may be a novella, but don’t let its short page-count fool you – this is a lush and realised fantasy, a forbidden m/m romance, and political intrigue.
- Follows Aqib, a man set to follow in the footsteps of his father to become an animal trainer for the royal court — and then he meets Lucrio, a soldier who upends his life.
- This is a romance-driven novel, told in a non-linear way – which I found so interesting and intriguing!
- The worldbuilding is so immense and incredibly done for a novella. It has Roman elements and African elements, and also explores gender roles and class.
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
This book is a wild rollercoaster of emotions and storytelling and it is phenomenal. It combines science-fiction with magical elements, set in a dystopian alternate future.
- Follows Noam, a bisexual Jewish-Colombian teen and son of immigrants, who wakes up having survived a virus that killed his family – and now possesses the power of technopathy.
- Examines important themes, such as refugee crises, power, identity, corruption, immigration, and trauma.
- The romance was also great – a slow-burn romance between two boys who are trying to find themselves in the world, are wary of each other and their motives, but somehow grow closer anyway.
You Asked For Perfect by Laura Silverman
A cathartic story about the pressures of high school and getting into college at the detriment of teenagers, this is a great book to read – and also m/m as well!
- Follows Ariel, a bi Jewish teen who puts a lot of pressure on himself to be the valedictorian, to maintain his perfect grade, and to get into Harvard. When he fails his Calculus test, he seeks tutoring help from Amir, his gay Pakistani classmate.
- This book has a soft m/m romance and the love interest is a gay Pakistani teen! Their relationship was lovely.
- You Asked For Perfect explores the pressures of high school and getting into college at the detriment of young people, and the price of ‘overachieving’.
Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee
One of the sweetest and softest books I’ve ever read! If you’ve always wanted to see a romance between a boy and a kelpie, then you’ll love this.
- Follows Kevin, a Chinese-American bisexual teen whose loneliness spurs him to make a wish to the sea: to have a summer full of love and happiness. When the sea grants him this wish in the form of Morgan, a kelpie boy, their romance blossoms.
- This book contains silkie mythology and the story developments were so lovely.
- Seven Tears at High Tide is also very sex-positive, wholly soft and not a stressful read at all, and has the most wholesome and supportive parents.
We are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia
I firmly believe that this is an important story about questioning, being completely unsure about your sexuality, and the implications of being queer. More importantly, I support Rahul for writing her truth in this book. Not everyone’s queer story is pretty and makes sense, which is why I think We Are Totally Normal is fantastic.
- Follows Nandan, an Indian-American teen who questions his sexual identity and develops an intimate yet hesitant relationship with Dave, an awkward Indian-American teen.
- This book is not a romance and it is not cute. In fact, it shows a lot of ugly and a lot of self-loathing — but I think that these experiences have a place in YA queer lit, and may also be necessary.
- This book involves reading in between the lines and exploring the subtext, but I loved its portrayal of questioning, the social implications of being queer, and that being fluid is valid.
Gay and M/M Books We’re Excited for & are on Our TBRs
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
My copy of Felix Ever After is currently en route to me and I can’t wait to have it in my hands. I love that this book is not only m/m but that the eponymous main character is also a trans demiboy! I’m also really excited to have Kacen visit the Pond later in Pride — so be sure to check that out soon!
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
How exciting does Cemetery Boys sound? I love what sounds like the reluctant-allies-to-lovers — and the love interest is a ghost as well?! I love the spooky feels from this book, I love that the main character, Yadriel, is a Latinx, trans, and a brujo! I also had the honour of having Aiden visit the Pond for Pride – in case you missed it, here’s the interview I did with them!
The Summer of Everything Julian Winters
Comic book geek Wesley Hudson excels at two things: slacking off at his job and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ‘90s alt-rock songs, and online dating articles aren’t helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local used bookstore, is threatened when a coffeeshop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his annoying brother needs wedding planning advice. When all three problems converge, Wes comes face-to-face with the one thing he’s been avoiding—adulthood.
Now, confronted with reality, can Wes balance saving the bookstore and his strained sibling relationship? Can he win the heart of his crush, too?
Listen, I want to read this so badly. Julian is the king of writing heart-warming books (see his other books: Running With Lions, How To Be Remy Cameron) and I have no doubt that The Summer of Everything will be no different! I’m also looking forward to reading about the friends-to-lovers (one of my favourite romance tropes) as well!
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
I have heard so much praise for this book. Among the praise I’ve heard, people have said that it is ‘fun’, ‘heartwarming’, ‘wholesome’, and ‘delightful’. I love the sound of this book and that it’s delightfully queer — and features a m/m romance!
The Wicker King by K. Ancrum
When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.
August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.
Listen, I loved Kayla’s sophomore novel, The Weight of Our Stars, with my whole heart. I haven’t read The Wicker King yet, but I absolutely have to. This sounds like an incredible read – a blend of fantasy and mystery and a story that examines mental illness.
The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy
Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at. And become the BEST at it.
Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge. . . . But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?
From actor and voice actor Maulik Pancholy comes his middle-grade debut, The Best At It! We don’t often see queer MG, and we rarely ever see queer MG by and about gay boys of colour. I want to read this badly – it sounds like such a good read.
By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery
On the day Torrey officially becomes a college freshman, he gets a call that might force him to drop out before he’s even made it through orientation: the bee farm his beloved uncle Miles left him after his tragic death is being foreclosed on.
Torrey would love nothing more than to leave behind the family and neighborhood that’s bleeding him dry. But he still feels compelled to care for the project of his uncle’s heart. As the farm heads for auction, Torrey precariously balances choosing a major and texting Gabriel—the first boy he ever kissed—with the fight to stop his uncle’s legacy from being demolished. But as notice letters pile up and lawyers appear at his dorm, dividing himself between family and future becomes impossible unless he sacrifices a part of himself.
A second chance m/m romance! Set in college! And has a gay Black main character! Who apparently keeps an apiary?! I cannot believe that I hadn’t heard of this book – so I’m delighted that you now know about this book as well! Let’s read it together!
Found a book that you want to buy?
Awesome! Thanks to Victoria Lee for this wonderful resource of Black-owned indie bookstores in the US and this list of Black-owned indie bookshops in the UK, you can now purchase these books from this list of Black-owned indie bookshops:
Don’t live in the US/Canada/UK? No problem! Support an indie store through Bookshop.
Thank you all so much for joining me in my joy over gay and m/m books! I hope you found a new book or two to add to your to-read lists for Pride Month – and, well, for every month of the year! – and that you will enjoy them!
In my next book recommendation post, I’ll be recommending 23 books with sapphic and f/f representation that you can read during and after Pride Month! I can’t wait to share my list of wonderful books with you. Happy reading, and happy Pride!