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Read with “Pride”: Insightful New LGBTQ Memoirs


Read with “Pride”: Insightful New LGBTQ Memoirs

Memoirs allow us to enter another person’s world, and help us to better understand and empathize with those around us.  Here are some memoirs by LGBTQ writers from the past couple of years available with your Livingston Library card, giving us a glimpse into their personal journeys and stories of struggle and resilience, and reminding us of our common humanity.

another appalachia

Another Appalachia : Coming Up Queer And Indian In A Mountain Place by Neema Avashia

Examines both the roots and the resonance of Avashia’s identity as a queer desi Appalachian woman. With lyric and narrative explorations of foodways, religion, sports, standards of beauty, social media, and gun culture.

Burn The Page : A True Story Of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, And Igniting Change by Danica Roem

Roem made national headlines when—as a transgender former frontwoman for a metal band and a political newcomer—she unseated Virginia’s most notoriously anti-LGBTQ 26-year incumbent Bob Marshall as state delegate.  In wildly entertaining prose, Danica dismantles all the stories her opponents tried to hedge against her, showing how through brutal honesty and loving authenticity, it’s possible to embrace the low points, and even transform them into her greatest strengths. 

Diary Of A Misfit by Casey Parks

When Parks came out as a lesbian in college back in 2002, she assumed her life in the rural South was over. Her mother shunned her, and her pastor asked God to kill her. But then Parks’ grandmother, a stern conservative who grew up picking cotton, shared a story about her childhood friend, Roy Hudgins, a musician who was allegedly kidnapped as a baby and was “a woman who lived as a man.” “Find out what happened to Roy,” Casey’s grandma implored. Part memoir, part investigative reporting, Diary of a Misfit is the story of Parks’ life-changing journey to unravel the mysteries of Roy’s life, all the while confronting ghosts of her own. For ten years, Parks knocked on strangers’ doors, dug through nursing home records, and doggedly searched for Roy’s own diaries, trying to uncover what Roy was like as a person-what he felt; what he thought; and how he grappled with his sense of otherness. As Parks traces Roy’s story, Parks is forced to reckon with long-buried memories and emotions surrounding her own sexuality, her fraught Southern identity, her tortured yet loving relationship with her mother, and the complicated role of faith in her life.

The Family Outing : A Memoir by Jessi Hempel

Everyone in business and technology writer Hempel’s family came out: the author as a lesbian, her father as gay, her younger sister as bisexual, her younger brother as trans, and her mother, who suffered major depression, found the voice to call herself a survivor. This memoir is their story. It began as a series of in-depth interviews that revealed closely held family secrets, which Hempel believed would eventually coalesce into one interlinked story. Instead, it became five very individual narratives of family members who have in common a roller coaster of emotions and questions about who they are. Bringing each family member alive on the page and bringing her own story up to date, the author wisely concludes that the work of transformation is never done. And so, her story continues.

heretic memoir

Heretic : A Memoir by Jeanna Kadlec

Married to an evangelical pastor’s son with a comfortable life, the author describes her reckoning with religious trauma and Midwestern values as she shed years of indoctrination, piety, and repression and came out as queer, and discusses how evangelicalism has undermined American political power structures.

High-Risk Homosexual : A Memoir by Edgar Gomez 

A debut memoir (and a 2023 Lambda winner) about coming of age as a gay, Latinx man in a culture of machismo, opens in the ultimate anti-gay space: Gomez’s uncle’s cockfighting ring in Nicaragua, where he was sent at twelve years old to become a man. The story then moves through the queer spaces where he learned the joy of being gay and Latinx, including Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, a drag queen convention in Los Angeles, and the doctor’s office where he was diagnosed a “high-risk homosexual.” With vulnerability, humor, and quick-witted insights into racial, sexual, familial, and professional power dynamics, Gomez shares a hard-won path to taking pride in the parts of himself that he’d kept hidden.

Hijab Butch Blues : A Memoir by Lamya H

Fourteen years old and growing up in the Middle East, Lamya is an overachiever and a class clown, qualities that help her hide in plain sight when she realizes she has a crush on her teacher-her female teacher. She’s also fourteen when she reads a passage in Quran class about Maryam, known as the Virgin Mary in the Christian Bible, that changes everything. Lamya learns that Maryam was untempted by an angelically handsome man, and later, when told she is pregnant, insists no man has touched her. Could Maryam be… like Lamya? Spanning childhood to an elite college in the US and early adult life in New York City, each essay places Lamya’s struggles and triumphs in the context of some of the most famous stories in the Quran. She juxtaposes her coming out with Musa liberating his people from the Pharoah; asks if Allah, who is neither male nor female, might instead be nonbinary; and, drawing strength from the faith and hope of Nuh building his ark, begins to build a life of her own-all the while discovering that her identity as a queer, immigrant devout Muslim is, in fact, the answer to her quest for safety and belonging.

Knocking Myself Up: A Memoir Of My (In)fertility by Michelle Tea

Tea’s taboo-breaking memoir is an account of her unconventional pregnancy and motherhood as a forty-year-old queer, uninsured woman.

lesbian love story

Lesbian Love Story : A Memoir In Archives by Amelia Possanza

When Possanza moved to Brooklyn to build a life of her own, she found herself surrounded by queer stories: she read them on landmark placards, overheard them on the pool deck when she joined the world’s largest LGBTQ swim team, and even watched them on TV in her cockroach-infested apartment. These stories inspired her to seek out lesbians throughout history who could become her role models, in romance and in life. Centered around seven love stories for the ages, this is Possanza’s journey into the archives to recover the personal histories of lesbians in the twentieth century: who they were, how they loved, why their stories were destroyed, and where their memories echo and live on.

Lost & Found: A Memoir by Kathryn Schulz (2023 Lambda winner)

Eighteen months before Kathryn Schulz’s beloved father died, she met the woman she would marry. Here, she weaves the stories of those relationships into a brilliant exploration of how all our lives are shaped by loss and discovery, from the maddening disappearance of everyday objects to the sweeping devastations of war, pandemic, and natural disaster; from finding new planets to falling in love.

Ma And Me : A Memoir by Putsata Reang

This compelling, accomplished memoir unpacks the intersections of identity and their effects on journalist Reang’s relationship with her mother. Framed by two weddings—Ma’s unwanted, inescapable wedding in 1967 Cambodia and Reang’s gay wedding in 2017 Washington State, which Ma refused to attend—the 40 intervening years dealt too much of life’s most difficult times. On a trip with Ma in 1990 to visit family back in Cambodia, the scope of the Khmer Rouge genocide was laid bare for Reang on a tour of Tuol Sleng prison. In Oregon, where the family had immigrated after escaping Cambodia by boat, Reang bore witness to a violent father who would be institutionalized at one point, almost kill a cousin, and cyclically assault Ma, and whom Reang loves but cannot forgive. In ways that took Reang decades to see, Ma, forever pushing her global, far-flung, home-avoidant daughter to find a man and marry him, was deeply shaped by her experiences and culture. Reang’s marrying a woman nearly broke their intense bond.

Pageboy : A Memoir by Elliot Page

The Oscar-nominated star who captivated the world with his performance in Juno finally shares his truth.  With Juno‘s massive success, Elliot became one of the world’s most beloved actors. His dreams were coming true, but the pressure to perform suffocated him. He was forced to play the part of the glossy young starlet, a role that made his skin crawl, on and off set. The career that had been an escape out of his reality and into a world of imagination was suddenly a nightmare. As he navigated criticism and abuse from some of the most powerful people in Hollywood, a past that snapped at his heels, and a society dead set on forcing him into a binary, Elliot often stayed silent, unsure of what to do, until enough was enough. 

ten steps to nanette

Ten Steps To Nanette by Hannah Gadsby

This memoir weaves the threads that join to create Nanette, Gadsby’s breakthrough stand-up comedy performance that won lots of awards in 2017–18. Included is a history lesson of LGBTQ+ rights in Australia, personal info about Gadsby and her family, and the trauma she endured as a queer person undiagnosed on the autism spectrum and with ADHD as well. 

This Body I Wore : A Memoir by Diana Goetsch

Goetsch, an award-winning essayist and poet, captivates and educates with this enthralling memoir/coming-out story. Told with unique eloquence and tenderness, the memoir follows the emotional and physical transition of someone who spent 50 years living in someone else’s skin. Her memoir opens a window into the cultural evolution of trans communities, gender identity, authenticity, and mental health, with nothing held back as she ascends shame through intimacy. 

Wild Dances : My Queer And Curious Journey To Eurovision by William Lee Adams

A memoir combining race, glitz, glamor, geopolitics, and the power of pop music, this memoir tells the story of how a misunderstood queer biracial kid in small-town Georgia became a Eurovision Song Contest commentator.

The Yards Between Us : A Memoir Of Life, Love, And Football by R K Russell

Told through the people and moments that have shaped him, the first out active NFL player to identify as bisexual shares his story, showing the life-changing power of embracing who you are and fighting to make space so others can do the same.

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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