10 Must-Read LGBTQ+ Coming-of-Age Stories

Coming to terms with identity can be a struggle for any teenager, and it's especially hard when you're an LGBTQ+ person living in a heteronormative society. The insightful books listed here delve into a variety of different experiences, from being rejected by homophobic family members to finding respect in a loving community. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

10 Must-Read LGBTQ+ Coming-of-Age Stories

Title Author
1. Being Fishkill Ruth Lehrer
2. The Confusion of Laurel Graham Adrienne Kisner
3. Fruit Brian Francis
4. Returning to Shore Corinne Demas
5. The Miseducation of Cameron Post Emily M. Danforth
6. Calli Jessica Lee Anderson
7. Just Between Us J.H. Trumble
8. Night Swimming Steph Bowe
9. All the Ways to Here Emily O’Beirne
10. The Resolutions Mia Garcia

Non-Profits That Support the LGBTQIA+ Community

Despite the progress made in recent years, many LGBT+ people still face discrimination, rejection, and even violence. If you want to help combat these issues, consider supporting nonprofit organizations like these:

8 Great Movies Featuring Gay Characters

  1. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
  2. Carol (2015)
  3. Love, Simon (2018)
  4. Pride (2014)
  5. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
  6. Rent (2005)
  7. God's Own Country (2017)
  8. Milk (2008)

Walking in Your Truth as an LGBT Youth

In Depth

Being young and LGBTQ+ in today's world is complicated, and the experience is, unfortunately, frequently characterized by struggle. The ten books listed here address the joys and pains of coming of age in a heteronormative society while queer, or while having a queer family member. These tales of friendship, self-discovery, and first love provide an illuminating look at often-neglected facets of teenage life. In no particular order, here are ten stories of young people coming to understand themselves and the world.

In the #1 spot is "Being Fishkill" by Ruth Lehrer. Fishkill Carmel has had to fight to survive ever since she was born in the backseat of a moving car. Her experiences have left her hardened and angry at the age of thirteen, but her shell starts to crack when she meets the cheerfully strange Duck-Duck Farina and her mother Molly. The three begin to tentatively form a family together as Fishkill slowly relearns how to open up, but disaster strikes when her unstable mother comes back into her life, threatening her new relationships.

In the #2 spot is Adrienne Kisner's "The Confusion of Laurel Graham." Seventeen-year-old Laurel's sole ambition is to become a wildlife photographer, a passion she shares with her grandmother. While out birding, Laurel and Gran hear a call from a bird that neither of them can identify. Soon after, Laurel's life is shattered when Gran is involved in an accident and falls into a coma. Shaken by the calamity, Laurel devotes herself to finding the strange bird, somehow hoping that if she can photograph it, things will return to normal.

While out birding, Laurel and Gran hear a call from a bird that neither of them can identify.

At #3 is Brian Francis's "Fruit." At thirteen, Peter Paddington's life isn't easy. Overweight, bullied, and struggling with a dysfunctional family, he's also experiencing strange feelings for his married male neighbor. His only solace is his "Bedtime Movies," detailed fantasies he enjoys each night before going to sleep. Things go from bad to worse when Peter's nipples inexplicably begin to talk to him, threatening to expose his secret desires and shames to the world.

Taking the #4 position is Corinne Demas's "Returning to Shore." Clare hasn't seen her father since she was three years old, but when her mother goes off on honeymoon with her third husband, Clare is sent to Cape Cod to spend the summer with him. She discovers a strange, mostly silent man who is primarily concerned with studying endangered turtles. As the summer goes on, though, Clare and her father grow closer, and she starts to understand the complex secrets that broke up her parents' marriage and drove her father to his solitary life.

In the #5 spot is "The Miseducation of Cameron Post" by Emily M. Danforth, the inspiration for the 2018 film of the same name. When Cameron Post's parents die in a car crash, she is sent to live with her old-fashioned grandmother and deeply religious Aunt Ruth. Everything changes for Cam when she meets the beautiful Coley Taylor, and they embark on a secret relationship. Disastrously, Aunt Ruth finds out. Cam is sent to an abusive conversion therapy camp called God's Promise, where she must fight to retain her sense of self in the face of enormous pressure.

Disastrously, Aunt Ruth finds out.

At #6 is "Calli" by Jessica Lee Anderson. The eponymous protagonist has a loving relationship with her two moms, and when they decide to become foster parents to another child, she's excited. Cherish, however, is not the sister that Calli expected, stealing her boyfriend and causing strife in the household. Looking for payback, Calli steals one of Cherish's necklaces, but this kicks off a series of events that ends with Cherish in juvenile detention. Devastated by guilt, Calli is now desperate to find an opportunity to make things right.

Taking the #7 position is "Just Between Us" by J.H. Trumble. Luke Chesser, a high school junior, spends most of his time practicing for marching band and flirting with Curtis, the new band field tech. What Luke doesn't know is that Curtis has tested positive with HIV, and the stigma of the diagnosis has left him afraid to fully engage in a relationship. As Curtis grapples with his fear and Luke endures his father's homophobia, the two attempt to keep their romance afloat in the face of the forces pushing them apart.

In the #8 spot is "Night Swimming" by Steph Bowe. Kirby Arrow and her friend Clancy Lee are the only seventeen-year-olds in their tiny Australian town. Clancy is determined to head for the big city as fast as he can, but Kirby is reluctant to leave behind everything she knows and loves. Both their lives are changed when a beautiful, eccentric girl named Iris moves to town. Clancy is instantly smitten by Iris, and to her surprise, Kirby finds herself falling for her as well.

Kirby Arrow and her friend Clancy Lee are the only seventeen-year-olds in their tiny Australian town.

At #9 is "All the Ways to Here" by Emily O'Beirne, the second in her "Future Leaders" series. Finn and Willa met and fell in love at summer camp. Now, returning home, they must sustain their relationship despite the struggles of everyday life. Finn questions her academic priorities when she gets involved with a new community project, and Willa deals with the burdens of an unstable family situation. The two girls seek solace in each other as the strain of the world grows around them.

And finally, at #10 is "The Resolutions" by Mia Garcia. Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora are the kind of inseparable friends who have always done everything together. But as senior year approaches, they start to grow apart. Hoping to bring the group back together, Jess devises a plan: on New Year's Eve, they will all create resolutions to give to each other instead of themselves. This challenge will have unforeseen consequences, as the resolutions bring about heartbreak, self-discovery, and vast changes in the lives of the four teenagers.