Blog: LGBT

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive." - James Baldwin

Stories help us understand ourselves and empathize with others. Explore these lists featuring authors and characters who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, Two-spirit and more. From romance to manga, history to science fiction, find your next good read here.

Are you looking for books for kids and teens? Find them here. If you're looking for reading recommendations beyond these lists, try My Librarian.

If you’ve checked out a copy of George by Alex Gino recently, you might have noticed some changes to the cover. Many of the covers have been altered to change the title from George to Melissa’s Story. This was done in response to a blog post from the author encouraging readers to engage in #SharpieActivism. That is, to alter the covers of their book to the title Melissa’s Story to reflect the gender identity of the main character. In the post, Gino (who uses they/them pronouns) talks about the importance of using a person’s preferred name and that they regret using Melissa’s birth name as the title. They go on to share their experience of growing up nonbinary and the message that something as small as a book title can send.

Over the past several months, the Online Teen Council set to work on the library collection. Equipped with washi tape and colored Sharpies, the teens altered approximately 60 copies of the book in English, Spanish, and Books on CD. The results were rich and varied. Some were as simple as crossing out the old title and adding the new. Others were ornate. Some of the titles had been altered even before the project began. The teens brought their individuality to the project, as I’m sure Gino intended.

Covers of book Melissa's Story

On October 22nd, 2021, Scholastic announced that they have changed the title of the book to Melissa. The book will be printed with the new name starting in April 2022. In the meantime, you can visit Alex Gino’s blog for printable covers and to order stickers. Or else you can engage in your own #SharpieActivism.

Resources:
The Trevor Project
It Gets Better Project
Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC)
Oregon Youth Line (call, text, chat, or email)

For Families and Allies:
PFLAG
GLAAD
TransFamilies

So, now that it’s legal, you are planning to marry. Congratulations!!

If you are organizing a wedding celebration or party in addition to your legal ceremony, you have some work ahead of you.  No matter the size or formality of your event, you’ll probably have to at least invite people and find a place to celebrate in.  If you want a huge party with tons of people in lovely outfits, flowers, a big cake, party favors and a unicorn; well, that’s going to require a lot of organization.  But never fear, librarians are always here to help!

What does organizing your wedding look like?  I’d say the answer depends entirely on you and your intended spouse.  One thing working in your favor is that, um, you’re not straight.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people have long had the joy -- and the burden -- of defining their own relationships and building their own rules for living.  So make your wedding yours.  Here are a few resources to help you get started:

Books and articles

There are precious few books written specifically to aid same-sex couples in wedding planning, but the library has a few you may want to consult:

Despite their queer focus, most of these books are pretty traditional.  Folks who are looking for stories and images of trans people and couples, or weddings that center on specific aspects of gay culture and style may not find them in these -- or in any books. That’s not a surprise, but it is a disappointment.  If your wedding planning is taking you in a direction that isn’t well-served by the mainstream media -- or if you're just feeling a bit  DIY -- you might want to do some more, shall we say, basic research. 

Depending on your needs, you might start with wedding how-to books that were written for a general (yeah, mostly straight!) audience.  The library has tons, including books on wedding decorations, wedding photography, making or designing your wedding cake, wedding traditions, making or styling your wedding dress/es.  Or, you might want to take a look at general books about costume history, flower arranging or planning a non-wedding type of party.  Will your wedding have a theme?  Chances are, the library has books, magazine articles, or other materials that will help you incorporate that theme into your celebration -- contact a librarian to get started.  

Queer-friendly wedding businesses

It can be a bit tricky to find trusted, queer-friendly wedding business and other resources. Thankfully, there are a few directories that focus specifically on gay-friendly wedding vendors.  Some examples are: 

Do you have more questions?

Librarians are ready to help you find answers!  Whether you’re looking for help finding the perfect queer-positive tailor or you want some inspiration for writing your vows, we are happy to help.  Ask a librarian anytime.


 

We’ve been reading a lot of memoirs around here lately.  There’s something magical about them, in how intimate and revealing they can be.  Writers of memoirs don’t always include the whole story, but there is an underlying assumption of honesty.  When we read memoirs, we can trust we're getting to know someone, and maybe even ourselves, a little bit better.    

The word “memoir” comes from the French word mémoire, which means “memory.”  It’s just you and the author’s voice, sharing impressions of their memories.  Suddenly, you’re in their world, going deeper with every page you turn.  Reading a memoir offers a unique opportunity to really connect with someone without having to talk to them.  Or, in the case of public figures, it offers an opportunity to learn more about someone you admire, but may never meet.  

Some of our favorite memoirs lately have been graphic memoirs, or autobiographical comics, combining words and visuals to reveal memories.  We enjoy finding diversity in experiences and perspectives in our favorite graphic memoirs.  Whether we’re reading about someone battling an eating disorder, or someone growing up in South Korea in the 1980s, we love getting to know fascinating people through these beautifully drawn and written graphic memoirs!

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, brought to you by Home Learning Support and available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

Looking for more tips on what to read next?  Check out our My Librarian readers advisory service and contact us for more ideas!

sign that says, "my pronouns are ____/ _____"
Youth who identify as LGBTQ+* benefit from a supportive network of family, friends, and peers, especially during times of stress and isolation.  Here are some organizations and resources that can help provide that support.

Local Resources for LGBTQ+ youth

  • Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) has served local youth since 1998.  They provide empowerment, community building, education and direct services. 
  • Oregon Youthline is a local 24-hour youth crisis and support service.  Help is available via phone, text, email, or chat.  Youthline is staffed by trained teen volunteers from 4-10 pm daily.
  • GSA Network supports Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA)  groups that unite LGBTQ+ youth and their peers.  They also provide tips on how to run virtual GSAs.
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Oregon chapter of the national organization that supports every student’s right to a safe, supportive education. 
  • Pride Northwest has a mission: to encourage and celebrate the positive diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans communities, and to assist in the education of all people through the development of activities that showcase the history, accomplishments, and talents of these communities.

 

neon rainbow with "Love is Love" signs in the background
Virtual Resources for LGBTQ+ youth and those who support them

  • Gender Spectrum free online support groups for LGBTQ+ youth, parents and caregivers.  Groups also offered for parents/caregivers in Spanish.
  • Q Chat Space a safe space for LGBTQ+ teens to connect
  • Trevor Support Center provides resources and counseling via phone and chat. TrevorSpace is an international community for LGBTQ+ young people. 
  • PFLAG is the nation's largest family and ally organization, founded in 1973 after the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son.
  • It Gets Better Project over 60,000 diverse video stories, all on a single theme.
  • Trans 101: Gender Diversity Crash Course helps people better understand what it means to be trans, and how we make the world a safer and happier place for trans and gender diverse people.  Available as a video series or booklet.
  • An age-by-age guide to talking to your kids about gender from Today's Parent.  No matter your kid's age, it's not too early (or late!) to talk to them about gender. Here's how to start the discussion, and keep it going as they grow.  

 

LGBTQ+ Booklists

Support can also come in the form of reading books and watching media with LGBTQ+ representation.   Your library is full of books for kids and teens that feature LGBTQ+ characters.  Explore the reading lists below, or ask us for a recommendation

*LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning.  The + is meant to include all gender identities and sexual orientations not covered by the other letters.  Read What Does LGBTQ+ Mean? for more information.

Katie Grindeland is the author of The Gifts We Keep, a selection from The Library Writers Project, which highlights local self-published authors. In an innovative partnership, Ooligan Press worked with the library to publish this novel about an Oregon family struggling with past tragedy while caring for a Native Alaskan girl with sorrows of her own.

Reading with friends? Start the conversation with this book summary and discussion guide.

Why did you want to tell this particular story?

I have always been a very character-driven writer, so I was excited at the prospect of diving into first-person emotional exploration with a somewhat diverse group of people. It was really important to me to try and give voice to their internal experience since we don’t always have a platform for that in our put-together grown-up lives. Big feelings, authenticity, connection, these were pillars for me. Not just as words on a page, but as an open-handed gesture to the reader’s experience as well. If someone reads this story and feels emotionally seen or included, I would consider that my biggest success.

Who or what inspires you, writing wise? Who inspires you in your life?

I am always inspired by those really good writers who make you stop in your tracks, by virtue of how purely they can weave a phrase or present an idea. The kind where I have to put the book down to stare at nothing and just think for a few minutes. Yann Martel and Marilynne Robinson and Jonathan Safran Foer and Barbara Kingsolver. But I also really love the writer who just wants to borrow your ear for a minute to tell a cool story they know. Lynda Barry and Stephen King and Cheryl Strayed and Diane Ackerman. These and so many more. Outside of writing, hard workers inspire me. Nose-to-the-grindstoners inspire me. Bad-at-something-but-trying-it-anyway inspires me. I find a lot of bravery in authenticity. And kindness. Kind-hearted people are secret super heroes and they don’t even know it. That inspires me.

Can you recommend a book you've recently enjoyed?

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It undid me, in all the best ways. Beautiful, meaningful, incandescent. I read much of this by headlamp on a solo camping trip near The Dalles, listening to trains run by in the dark, simply because I couldn’t put it down. I also love “S”, by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams. It's a novel within a novel, filled with miscellanies that fall out of the book into your lap if you aren’t careful, postcards, notes, photos -- all of which may or may not be clues to unraveling the story. Plus, if you’re anything like me, it will have you spouting about the Ship of Theseus paradox to friends and family, whose reception may be lukewarm in comparison to your enthusiasm for the idea!

Juliet Takes a Breath book cover
You know that moment when you are reading a book that you realize somehow mirrors your own life? For me that book is Gabby Rivera's Juliet Takes A Breath. Like many young folks I was intent on escaping the town that I had called home for most of my life and wanted to discover myself in someplace new. At some point my attention turned to moving west, and about 12 years ago I finally found my new home in Portland.  Juliet Milagros Palante has always called the Bronx her home, but she has her sights set on Portland. Before she leaves home, Juliet must do one thing, come out to her family. While eating dinner with her loved ones, a few hours before she is about to board the plane that will take her from the east coast to the west, she reveals her truth. Although her mother will not speak to her Juliet begins her journey to a strange new land. Juliet has a plan: figure out what it means to be queer and brown while spending the summer in Portland interning with Harlowe Brisbane, the author of one of her favorite books. In this candid coming-of-age story, Juliet discovers herself as a feminist and as a queer Latinx, finds a her community and falls in love.
Cunt: a Declaration of Independence
 
The fictional author, Harlow Brisbane, wrote a book that strikes a chord with Juliet, opening her up to the world of feminism.  Like Juliet, my introduction to feminism, radical politics and the Pacific Northwest came in the form of an eye opening book by Inga Muscio, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. While this wasn't the first book about feminism that I had read, it was the first one that did not have an academic tone. It was a book that was passed around among my group of friends, sparked frank and often hilarious discussions, and changed the way that I moved in my female body. And like Harolow Brisbane's fictional feminist tome, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence is the kind of title that would make some passersby uncomfortable. Gotta love a book that has that kind of power!

 

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