Inclusivity and representation are among the most powerful and positive aspects of literature. However, listeners on the hunt for the best LGBTQIA+ books out there know that finding stories about gay characters isn’t always easy. So, we’ve put together a series of lists detailing some of the best LGBTQIA+ listens available, from
lesbian literature to bisexual and trans stories.
We've compiled some of the best audiobooks from queer authors, from classic to contemporary across all genres and age categories. And because we know that authenticity is important, our selections are all stories focused on gay characters, written by gay authors. Here we go!
Hot White Heist Hot White Heist
This hilarious Audible Original comedy podcast pairs
Sex and the City icon Cynthia Nixon with SNL’s Bowen Yang, with Emmy Award-winning actress Jane Lynch, with renowned drag queen and actor Bianca Del Rio, with actress Mj Rodriguez (of Pose fame)…should we go on? This action packed comedy follows the iconic all-queer cast as they embark on a mission for some pretty high caliber fluid: sperm, namely, Barack Obama’s. Also, there’s Mark Zuckerberg’s and Stephen Hawking’s, to name a few. You see, the US government hid some of the strongest sperm in the world in case of a global catasphrophe. And now it’s about time for a sperm bank heist. The House in the Cerulean Sea The House in the Cerulean Sea
Linus Baker works as a case manager in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He takes his job seriously, and he’s a strict rule follower. But when he receives an assignment to determine whether or not six magical (and dangerous!) children are likely to bring about the end of the world as we know it, he finds rules and order going out the window. Linus travels to the orphanage where the children live, cared for by Arthur Parnassus. Arthur would do anything to protect these kids and their secrets—and when the two meet, those secrets come to light. This is a delightful listen about magic and found family, a theme many LGBTQIA+ listeners can relate to, and it’s narrated by Daniel Henning.
Possible Side Effects Possible Side Effects
Augusten Burroughs is a well-known memoirist who recounts stories of his childhood and young adult years in this confessional memoir. He expands on stories he touched upon in earlier works such as
Running With Scissors, offers funny vignettes about his everyday life, and tells of his misadventures in various jobs, from working at an ad agency to being unsuitable for any job but writer. He’s candid about his vices and his tendency to spend too much time surfing the internet, and his comedic timing is impeccable, which makes him the perfect narrator for his own memoir. Bath Haus Bath Haus
In best-selling author PJ Vernon’s sophomore thriller, glamorous couple Oliver and Nathan seem to have it all, from a loving relationship to an impeccably restored Washington, DC townhouse. But when Oliver has an illicit encounter at a discreet gay bathhouse, he ends up the victim of a brutal attack and barely escapes with his life. In the traumatic aftermath, he’ll do anything to keep Nathan from finding out his secret—but as the danger moves closer to home, so do the lies. Cunningly crafted, sexy, and scary, this pitch-perfect thriller ratchets up the suspense with a dual POV voiced by narrators Michael Crouch and Daniel Henning.
How We Fight for Our Lives How We Fight for Our Lives
In this moving memoir, award-winning poet Saeed Jones tells of his childhood in the South and his coming of age as a gay Black man. Full of vignettes from his life, this memoir covers everything from his contentious relationship with his mother to his travels across the country. At its heart, Jones’s personal story is about the lengths we go to discover who we really are and then fight to be ourselves. Jones narrates his memoir, which is only appropriate—it’s powerful to hear his words in his own voice.
Red, White & Royal Blue Red, White & Royal Blue
If you want a purely escapist romance, try this irresistible story about what happens when the son of the American president falls for the Prince of Wales! Alex Claremont-Diaz is young, good-looking, and charming, making him perfect tabloid fodder when his mom is elected president. But when a disagreement with Henry, the Prince of Wales is leaked to the public, it’s not good for the White House’s image...or US and UK relations. So Alex is sent to make up with Henry, with the press in attendance, of course. While their friendship is staged at first, it soon becomes very real, and what’s more, Alex begins to fall for Henry, for better or worse. Narrated by Ramon de Ocampo, this is a must-hear romance that was Audible’s pick as the
Best Romance of 2019. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Narrated by its author, poet Ocean Vuong, this award-winning and highly acclaimed autobiographical novel tells the story of Little Dog, a Vietnamese-American young man, in the form of a letter to his illiterate mother. In it, he explores his tumultuous childhood with his single mother and grandmother, who are both haunted by events that occurred in Vietnam before Little Dog’s birth. He also explores his own upbringing in poverty, and his relationship with another boy. Profound and sensitive,
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is not to be missed. Owning It Owning It
An Audible Original production,
Owning It was created especially for Pride Month. This collection of uplifting, raw, and hilarious stories from queer actors, comedians, and personalities is a great listen for anyone coming into their own as a queer person. Each storyteller shares their own unique lived experiences, which turn out to be surprisingly universal. Actress and activist Alexandra Billings and comedian and podcaster Nikki Levy are the perfect hosts for this audio collection, bringing each story to light with thoughtful humor and heart. Owning It is a passionate celebration of LGBTQIA+ stories and the remarkable guests who share them. Real Life Real Life
Wallace is Black, queer, and Southern. He’s pursuing a biochem degree at a Midwestern university, but he’s careful not to show too much of himself to his colleagues and friends, and that distance becomes most notable over the course of a single weekend. A series of confrontations has Wallace questioning everything—and exposes some of the undercurrents of hostility and tension among his friend group. This is a powerful and critically acclaimed novel about loneliness and navigating an unfamiliar (and oftentimes hostile) environment, narrated by beloved performer Kevin R. Free.
When Brooklyn Was Queer When Brooklyn Was Queer
Called "a boisterous, motley new history" by
The New York Times Book Review, and narrated by the author himself, Hugh Ryan’s When Brooklyn Was Queer is a groundbreaking exploration of the LGBTQIA+ history of Brooklyn, from the early 1850s to the queer women who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II, and beyond. No other book, movie, or exhibition has ever told this sweeping story. This well researched and compelling listen details the
pre-Stonewall queer community of Brooklyn, threading historic details with individual stories, and in the process undoing a great forgetting. Bonds of Brass Bonds of Brass
If you’re looking for a fun, high-stakes sci-fi action novel, then check out
Bonds of Brass, narrated by James Fouhey. It tells the story of Ettian, whose life is thrown into upheaval when the Umber Empire invades his world. With few options, he becomes a student at an Umber academy and studies hard to become the best pilot in the school. He also meets his roommate, Gal, a young man Ettian grows to love. But when a group of fellow students attacks Gal one day, his secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian saves him, but then faces a devastating choice: Should he stand with his best friend or fight the evil empire? Sweet Tea Sweet Tea
In this eye-opening oral history, E. Patrick Johnson explores what it means to be gay, Black, and Southern. He collects more than 60 stories of gay Black men from and/or living in the South, examining various aspects of their lives to illuminate the challenges they face, the culture they’ve created, and how they navigate through life. This is an important listen that examines stereotypes often associated with gay culture and also reveals how these men live, find connection and community, and celebrate their identities. At 26 hours long, it’s no light listen, but it is an essential one, narrated by Johnson himself.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
In this beautiful novel narrated by the inimitable Lin-Manuel Miranda, Aristotle is an angry teen with a lot of questions and a brother in prison. Dante is unlike anyone he’s ever met. When the two meet one summer at a swimming pool, they strike up a friendship that allows them to help each other through their awkward, painful teen years. But their relationship goes deeper than friendship, and might mean something much more—if they can find the courage to face their feelings and live their truth. This novel has won multiple awards, including a Printz Honor, the Stonewall Book Award, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Pure Belpre Award.
Two Boys Kissing Two Boys Kissing
David Levithan is the godfather of LGBTQIA+ YA literature, so it’s difficult to pick just one of his titles.
Two Boys Kissing might be his most provocative novel, and it is also one of his best-regarded. Based on a true story, it’s about 17-year-old boys Harry and Craig, who take part in a marathon kissing session in order to bust a Guinness World Record and prove to the world that their love is just as valid as any straight couple’s. As they engage in this challenge, other people in their lives grapple with love, desire, and identity. This is a powerful novel narrated by a Greek chorus of men who died during the AIDs epidemic, and Levithan himself narrates the audiobook. It’s no wonder this title was a Lambda Literary Award winner and a Stonewall Honor Book, in addition to landing on the National Book Award longlist. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
In novelist Alexander Chee’s first collection of essays, he explores the forces in his life that have shaped him and his identity—as a Korean-American, as a gay man, as a writer, and as a teacher. These wide-ranging essays tackle events and stories that are deeply personal to him, from his father’s death to writing his first novel, to larger events that shape our world, such as the AIDs crisis and the 2016 presidential election. This is a smart and thought-provoking collection, narrated by Daniel K. Isaac.
They Both Die at the End They Both Die at the End
While its title sounds grim, definitely check out Adam Silvera’s speculative novel about chance discoveries, making each day count, and finding love where you least expect it. Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio have each just received some bad news: They’re going to die sometime today. Although it’s a surprise, they waste no time in trying to make their last day count, and end up connecting on an app meant to unite people who want a friend on their last day on Earth. What follows is a memorable, life-changing day of connection and living life to its fullest, with a fantastic cast including Michael Crouch, Robbie Daymond, and Bahni Turpin.
In this romantic comedy, a best seller and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, author Arthur Less is on the verge of turning 50 when he gets a truly awful piece of mail: a wedding invitation from his ex-boyfriend. Unwilling to say no outright, Arthur pretends that he’s too busy attend, and then goes on to accept a series of dubious literary invites from all over the world as a valid excuse to run away from his past. Traveling from Paris to Berlin to Morocco to India, Arthur turns 50 while away from home and discovers love, second chances, and finally faces up to what he’s most afraid of.
Less is narrated by Robert Petkoff. A Single Man A Single Man
Set in 1962 against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile,
A Single Man was first published in 1964, and was somewhat scandalous when it first came out. It follows the life of George, an English professor living in Southern California and grappling with the sudden death of his partner, another man. He’s a bit of an outsider, and he feels even more lonely and lost in his grief. Taking place over the course of a single day, the novella follows George as he meets various people and their interactions give him a new perspective on what it means to live, even while you’re in mourning. This novella was the basis of the 2009 film of the same name, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. Standout narrator Simon Prebble performs the audiobook. Tirzah Price is a writer and contributing editor at Book Riot.