By Erica Cawagas
“Bury Your Gays” is a literary trope that has appeared in books since the 19th century. Books using this trope usually features a same-gender couple where one of the lovers is dying and the other realizes they were never actually gay, often running into the arms of a heterosexual partner. This was originally used as a device for queer authors to write about queer characters without breaking the law. However, Bury Your Gays persists today in a time and social context in which it is no longer necessary to give gay characters and stories bad endings in order to be published. Here is a list of books where LGBTQ+ characters live until the very end of the book.
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
Daniel is an English literature professor starting out at his first teaching job at a small town in Michigan. Through a series of events he meets and gets to know Rex, who changes his life in all the best ways. Aside from the novel being well written and beautifully set, In the Middle of Somewhere is NOT a coming out story. Coming out is an important step for any queer person but is not our entire story. This book explores the struggles of dating regardless of sexuality.
A Kind of Romance by Lane Hayes
Zeke Gulden is a ruthless Wall street exec. With a no-nonsense attitude. He is also the son of his neighborhoods most beloved baker. Strait-laced and snarly as they come, he is flabbergasted when he meets his father’s newest hire. Benny Ruggieri is a fiercely proud New Yorker who dreams of making it big as a costume designer in the theater. Benny makes Zeke question what he really wants from all his carefully laid life plans, and what’s really important. At face value Benny is a glitzy airhead but this book shows his wit and depth while still being able to mercilessly make Zeke uncomfortable with his “fabulous-ness”. At the same time Zeke is portrayed as a complex character forced to act a certain way to fit into the world and to fit in with the family that raised him.
Hero by Perry Moore
Thom is the son of a disgraced ex-super hero. His father, who is currently raising him by himself, tells him to avoid all supers. This makes it hard to guard his three biggest secret:
1. He has superpowers.
2. Said superpowers have gained him entrance into “The League”, a large collection of the country’s top superheroes/the organization that his father left in disgrace.
3. Oh and he’s gay.
For anyone who is a fan of superheroes they will either really enjoy this novel or enjoy pointing out all the tweaks the author made to avoid copyright with famous comic book heroes. While not the most well written novel, it does have very moving and emotional parts. You may cry. While there are no queer character deaths in this book there are significant character deaths.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Greene and David Leviathan
Two boys both named Will Grayson meet and change each other’s lives in the best way. While from the same city they live in completely different worlds. This does not stop their lives from overlapping and causing push and pull between them and the people around them. For many queer readers this will be an older book. It has a particular quirky kind of humour that appeals to many and is co-authored by famous author David Leviathan. That said, it does lack optimism and realness found in some of the other books on this list.
Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai
Fourteen-year-old Amrith is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of his life before, when his doting mother was still alive. Amrith’s holiday plans seem unpromising: he wants to appear in his school’s production of Othello and he is learning to type at his Uncle Lucky’s tropical fish business. Then, like an unexpected monsoon, his cousin arrives from Canada and Amrith’s ordered life becomes a storm. He finds himself falling in love with the Canadian boy. Othello, with its powerful theme of disastrous jealousy, is the backdrop to the drama in which Amrith finds himself immersed.
This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
When Rosie, Penn and their four boys welcome the newest member of their family, no one is surprised it’s another baby boy. But Claude is not like his brothers. One day he puts on a dress and refuses to take it off. He wants to bring a purse to kindergarten. He wants hair long enough to sit on. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl. Rosie and Penn aren’t panicked at first. Kids go through phases, after all, and make-believe is fun. But soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes. This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. Change is always hard. Parenting is always a leap into the unknown and children always grow but not always according to plan.
Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead
Jonny Appleseed is about a young two-spirit/Indigiqueer glitter princess named Jonny trying to get back to the rez (reserve) from the big city in time for his stepfather’s funeral. Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. This book deals with themes of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life. Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of First Nations life, full of grit, glitter, and dreams.
The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai
The Tiger Flu is set in 2145, in an unrecognizable future version of a present-day Canadian city. Newfoundland’s St. John’s has become New Arcadia, an oil rig off the coast of the province doubles as a city, and Vancouver has transformed into Saltwater City, a place full of shifting weather patterns that struggles to keep its infrastructure. The Tiger Flu is from the perspective of two young women, Kora and Kirilow. The intensity of the society’s structural issues and the futility of trying to make real change in a meaningful way loom over them both. In building a uniquely female cyberpunk thriller, Lai exposes the biases of traditional science fiction, and the ways in which women are generally excluded and undervalued within science fiction.