LGBTQ books that aren’t for kids? In this world, there are lists and lists of great books that aren’t YA but that are clearly gay. You’re in for a treat. There are a lot of adult LGBTQ books out there, which is great because it means that once you start looking, you keep finding more adult LGBTQ books. Here are 20 of them.
Is there a list of recent SFF books written by trans and gender-nonconforming authors? We’re taking care of you. Is this a list of books about gender? We also have your back there. We’ve made lists of LGBTQ books that will make you cry and LGBTQ books that have happy endings. On this page, we have a list of books that feature “queernorm worlds.” These are worlds in which homosexuality and transphobia don’t happen. This isn’t the only thing we have. We even have a list of TikTok’s favorite LGBTQ books. Most of our lists have YA on them, and we said so. In this list, you’ll only find books for adults that are LGBTQ.
There is still a lot of great queerness that can’t be squeezed into a small list. But I did my best to put my favorite books at the top of the list, as well as a few big bestsellers and books that people might not have heard of. I put content warnings in as many places as I could, but things can fall through the cracks. There are some things that you should look into on your own if you have specific questions or concerns.
We All Loved Cowboys by Carol Bensimon, Translated by Beth Fowler
Julia, who is quiet and reserved, and Cora, who is bisexual, once had a quiet romance before it broke up. In the years that have passed, the two twentysomethings decide to finally go on the road trip they’ve always wanted to take, a trip around Brazil that’s a little bit rambling and a lot of fun. It’s a sapphic story, a road trip story, and a story about coming of age all in one. Bensimon talks about how young people rebel and how it takes a long time to figure out what you want in life.
Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis
They build a safe place on a beach in Polonio, Uruguay, where they can be who they are. It’s a powerful book about women who love women, shelters, and finding a group of people who let you be yourself. It shows how the group of friends changes over time, talking about sex toys and children and pain, coming apart and coming back together. I love this book because it’s about female friendship, but it also has a historical fiction background that helps us understand what it’s like to be gay.
Warnings about sexual assault, torture, conversion therapy, homophobia, violence, and suicide are in the text.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
The narrator, a young Vietnamese man, writes a letter to his mother, who can’t read. When he talks about his family, he talks about how many generations back they go. He talks about how his first love, Trevor, came into his life. He talks about how opioids took over his hometown. It’s Vuong’s first book, and it’s about healing, story-telling, and how to stay alive.
There are warnings about bullying and violence and abuse, drug use, homophobia, mental illness, animal cruelty.
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
Nigeria has been split up by civil war in the 1960s. Ijeoma is born and grows up in a war-torn country. She is sent away to live with a school teacher in Nwewi when her father dies and her mother goes into trance-like mourning. She meets Amina, a girl who was also displaced, when she moves to a new town. The two young girls become close and fall in love and have sex. When it’s found out, Ijeoma is brought back to her home and forced to face the homophobia and heteronormativity that surrounds her. The book won the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction, and it’s especially poignant because of Nigeria’s anti-gay laws today.
Warnings about parental death, depression, grief, hanging (in a dream), homophobia, miscarriage, misogyny, PTSD, and rape are in this book.
Marriage of a Thousand Lies by S.J. Sindu
Because their Sri Lankan American families don’t want to see them get married, Lucky and Krishna are both gay and have married for convenience. Before Lucky has to go back to her home town, she meets her first love. When Nisha is about to marry a man, Lucky wants to stop her. But to do that, she’d have to destroy everything she’s worked so hard to build and take a risk that Nisha might not want her to take.
Warnings about homophobia, domestic violence, and misogyny in the text.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Among the many characters in this year’s winner of the Man Booker Prize is a nonbinary trans activist, a math student who became a cleaning company owner, and LaTisha, a rebellious young mother. Evaristo weaves together the stories of real-life, complicated women to create a vivid picture of the UK’s queer and Black communities. This is a book that is both deeply authentic and deeply moving. Evaristo has a unique, all-lowercase, flowing style that makes this work look weird, huge, lyrical, witty, emotional, and strong, so we can enjoy it.
Warnings about sexual assault, domestic abuse, child abuse, miscarriage, racism, transphobia, and homophobia are in the text.
Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, Translated by Tina A. Kover
Queer punk-rock fans She is in a waiting room at a fertility clinic, and she is waiting for her results to come in. She thinks about the history and stories of the Sadr family, which is an epic that starts in Iran and ends in Paris. Kimiâ talks about the legends that her family tells and tells again and again. She thinks about how stories are shared and how the truth is changed. They are intellectuals who don’t like the regimes of the Shah and Khomeini, so they have to leave Iran at some point. This book has some of the best storytelling I’ve seen in a long time. It’s bold, fun, and heartbreaking.
Warnings about violence, racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia in the text.
Science Fiction & Fantasy
We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker
It’s not easy being a gay parent, but Val and Julie are trying their best. There is now a lot of talk about the Pilot, a brain implant that makes it easier to focus. This makes them a little unsure if they’re making the right decisions. Sure, brain surgery is a big deal. But, is it worth letting their son David stay behind in class? Then what about their daughter, Sophie? She is sick and can’t get the implant because of that. It’s hard for the family to deal with biotech and the dangerous capitalism in its roots as an anti-Pilot movement grows.
Warnings about drug addiction, mental illness, medical dismissal, ableism, suicidal ideation, gaslighting, PTSD are in this text.
Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
For example: Eddie killed himself while Andrew was at Vanderbilt, and Andrew knows for sure that it was a murder. Why? During childhood, both of them had a dark curse. The ghost of Eddie will not let him go until he solves the mystery of what happened to him. Author Mandelo tells a story about rage, grief, and masculinity in a dark academia and southern gothic novel. It talks about drunken car races, adrenaline-fueled fights, and reckless drug use. POWERFUL AND DARK: This book is both powerful and dark, and its mystery and story of queer self-discovery will keep you reading until the end!
Warnings about suicide, self-harm, hard drug use, f slur, homophobia, violence, and abuse are in the text.
Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Vern, who is young, bold, and gay, doesn’t like the rules of the Black “utopia” (cult) where she was raised, Cainland. She wants to be free. Her husband has been cheating on her for a long time. She is seven months pregnant and wants to get away from him. She gives birth in the forest and tries to raise her two babies on her own. But she is haunted by ghosts, and something grows inside her body that twists and grows. and she starts to wonder if Cainland has any plans to let her go. It is a powerful story about autonomy, systemic horrors, marginalization, and most of all, how to get by and get through things. Solomon, who uses fae/faer and they/their pronouns, is also the author of The Deep and An Unkindness of Ghosts, which is an award-winning sci-fi book that could have been on this list but didn’t make it.
Warning: Vivid violence, body horror, racism, and sexual, domestic, and psychological abuse are all in this book.
American Hippo by Sarah Gailey
Sarah Gailey is a bad person who has a lot of good ideas, too. Did you know that years ago, the U.S. thought about putting hippos in Southern marshes to eat invasive species and as a source of meat? In River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow, two short stories that are now in one book, Gailey says, “What if they did?” Isn’t it possible that there was a group of people who wanted to take over a bayou that had been taken over by feral hippos? Some of them were gay. Also, it was a lot of fun. Just read it.
Warnings about violence, misgendering, racism, and fatphobia in the text.
The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
There’s a fantasy author called N.K. Jemisin who writes about things that don’t happen in real life. The Stillness is an unstable world where earthquakes and other disasters happen all the time, and where orogenes, people who can change the earth and rocks, are feared and persecuted. As a mother, Essun, goes out to find her daughter in the middle of a crisis, and it starts a chain of events she didn’t expect. The award-winning series, which starts with The Fifth Season, is very gay, with a lot of queer, gender-nonconforming, and trans characters, as well as a very romantic polyamorous relationship.
Warnings about child abuse, death, genocide, gore, murder, racism, rape, slavery, violence, infanticide, and cannibalism are in this video.