June is Pride Month! Many people express and show their support for the LGBTQAI+ communities all year long, but June is a great time to amplify that support. One of the major ways that support can extend further is to share books and films that are inspired by these very communities. Below is a short list of LGBTQAI+-inspired novels and their film counterparts.

SPOILER WARNING: If you have not read these books or seen the films, please be advised this blog contains dialogue that discusses the works and details about them. If you want to dive into them spoiler-free, think before continuing this blog.

  1. The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

    Though based on a real person, this is a fictionalized account of the life of Lili Elbe. Elbe is one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery in 1930. Names and locations were changed, but the story of Elbe, be it the real one or this novel, is very inspiring. This is especially true giving the time period. Breakthroughs in reassignment surgery were just beginning and were still very experimental when Einar transformed into Lili.

    Sadly,  Elbe did lose her life from an infection in 1931 when her body refused a transplanted uterus. The 2015 film based on this novel stars Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander as the main protagonists of the story.

  2. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

    Summer love can leave a deep impression. In this novel and film, that is certainly true for 17-year-old Elio Perlman. He’s falling for grad student Oliver in the 1980s. Though the film, starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, only focuses on that one summer in Italy, the novel shares events that follow after. The story depicts the internal struggles we all feel as we watch “forbidden” love slip away. If you felt saddened or emptied by this story, fear not; the sequel novel Find Me will be released in October 2019.

  3. Freak Show by James St. James

    We all love people who tell it like it is and refuse to let others bring them down. Billy Bloom is certainly one of those people. Being at a strict and conservative school and refusing to be quieted down, Billy announces his candidacy for homecoming queen. The book and film have been highly praised. Also, the 2017 film stars talented actors including Alex Lawther, Abigail Breslin, AnnaSophia Robb, Laverne Cox, and Bette Midler.

  4. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (aka Love, Simon) by Becky Albertalli

    To put it in the author’s own words, the 2018 film stayed pretty close to the book with only a few minor changes. This is a story that shows one of the many scary-but-brave ways a gay child comes out. Though blackmailed and subsequently outed by his blackmailer, Simon faces those that try to bring him down. Spoiler alert: he still gets his guy in the end. The thing that is most inspiring though is not just Simon himself, but the support his family gives him. So many coming-out stories tend not to have understanding or supportive parent figures. Simon’s parents excepted him and made sure he knew it. Truly uplifting.

  5. Disobedience by Naomi Alderman

    Another story of forbidden love, Disobedience, focuses on how religion plays into the journey for LGBTQIA+ people. Returning to his highly religious Orthodox Jewish community to attend her father’s funeral, Ronit has all eyes on her. Both the film and novel show the struggle and tension that bubbles to the surface as the estranged love triangle between three childhood friends reunite. Will their religion leave room for their preferences in both life partners and personal decisions? The film stars Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola.

  6. Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrard Conley

    This memoir reflects on the author’s time in a conversion camp for homosexuals. He informs the readers that he was given the choice to either attend this camp or be disowned from his family. Why? Because they don’t agree with his “choice” to be attracted to men. This is another example of blind skepticism. Many readers and viewers will find how far some people will go to make their lives “look normal” all-too-familiar. Conley did this at his father’s wishes, and the repercussions are life-changing.

    The 2018 film follows the book but changes the names to protect the people involved. Both the film and the memoir are great representations of the family struggle. It’s especially raw when something unexpected changes life as we know it entirely. It can be harder still to fight that change instead of embrace it.

  7. The Price of Salt (aka Carol) by Patricia Highsmith

    Originally published in 1952, The Price of Salt was ahead of its time. Decades ago, homosexuality was such a taboo that it could destroy lives. Divorce, child custody, your reputation – all could be lost because of someone’s sexuality. Even the author went under a pseudonym to not be attached to the writing at first. The story centers on a young woman trying to find herself in a world where homosexuality is deemed sinful. After meeting a woman in a toy store, they become bonded. It eventually leads to more.

    However, their relationship endangers Carol’s custody fight for her daughter. The Price of Salt examines the struggle to create a facade of “normal” in a heterosexual, male-dominated society while at the same time trying to be true to oneself.

  8. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    A story of strife and struggle, The Color Purple is a masterpiece of literature, film, and stage. Celie, from childhood to adulthood, faces abuse and racism into the 1930s. Remaining strong throughout, and amidst other serious struggles, Celie gains friendship in an unusual place – with her husband’s mistress, Shug. Shug is more than a lover, she is the woman who shows Celie she is important. Though this relationship is majorly sidelined in the movie, the book allows their relationship to blossom. The adaptations and the original novel are powerful works that remain highly-praised today.

  9. Orlando by Virginia Woolf

    This fascinating tale does not only consists of a young man miraculously waking up as a woman one day, but also immortality! If you’ve seen the 1992 film starring Tilda Swinton, you may believe Orlando’s immortality was caused by the wish of Queen Elizabeth I. As Orlando “travels” through time, the character learns first hand how the difference of intellectualism, treatment, and a person’s rights between men and women. Being that he started the story as a man and then a woman (and a mother) by the end, it’s quite the shift of perspectives. This unique tale is certain to grab anyone’s interest, be it the film, the novel, or both.

  10. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

    More people may remember the 1991 film over the book. In the movie, Idgie and Ruth’s relationship was played down significantly. What we get instead is more of a close friendship than a love story. Flagg herself expressed that the story is about their relationship and life together as it naturally was. Their sexuality was just a part of their partnership. Either the film or the novel would be a great pick for this month to read during Pride Month. Plus, it’s a great summer read as well.

  11. Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

    This short story originally premiered in a 1997 copy of magazine The New Yorker. In 2005 the book got an Oscar-winning film adaptation (three Oscars, actually) as well as an opera version. In Brokeback Mountain, two typical cowboys working in a Wyoming range find love one summer. Even the film’s stars, A-listers Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhall, Michelle Williams, and Anne Hathaway, came as a surprise for many. If you haven’t had a chance to read this story or watch the movie, you certainly should. Powerful, prideful stuff here.

There are many more LGBTQAI+ readings out there but we thought this could be a good list to start with. If you have any recommendations, feel free to let us know in the comments or in person next time you visit any of our locations. We’re always up for a great recommendation!

Written by Sky D. (Bookmans Enthusiast)