The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

Your reading list for Pride Month


This past April we celebrated Gaypril, the month here at CSUSM when we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. And with that being said there’s no better time to immerser us in LGBTQ+ literature. From memoirs that echo personal journeys to gripping fiction that challenges societal norms, the written word has long been a powerful ally in the quest for understanding and acceptance.  By immersing ourselves in these narratives, we are not only expanding our literary knowledge, but we are also cultivating a deeper understanding of how to be allies and advocates for our LGBTQ+ friends and peers. Below, you’ll find a list of books I’ve already read, as well as those I plan to add to my summer reading list.

 “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston   


First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz and Prince Henry must feign friendship after their clash goes public, jeopardizing international relations. Amidst a fake friendship, Alex enters a secret romance with Henry that could disrupt his mother’s reelection campaign and alter the course of two nations. Explore themes of sacrifice, doing good, and legacy in this engaging tale. Catch the TV adaptation on Amazon Prime!  



 “Felix Ever After” by Kacen Callender  


 This story follows Felix Love, a transgender teen exploring love while grappling with identity. After facing transphobic attacks, Felix devises a revenge plan that leads to unexpected romantic entanglements, prompting a journey of self-discovery and redefining self-worth.  



All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M Johnson  

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson shares personal essays about growing up as a Black queer boy in New Jersey and Virginia. From childhood bullying to first relationships, the memoir delves into themes like gender identity, toxic masculinity, family, and Black joy, offering insight for allies and validation for young queer men of color. Johnson’s candid writing style speaks directly to teens and young adults.  



 “Reclaining Two-Spirits” by Gregory D. Smithers 

a comprehensive exploration of Indigenous traditions surrounding gender, sexuality, and resistance. It sheds light on the historical presence of Two-Spirit people within Native North American communities, highlighting their identities and cultural significance prior to European colonization. The book delves into the challenges and violence faced by Two-Spirit individuals’ post-colonization, including persecution and attempts to erase their history. Through a combination of written sources, archaeological findings, art, and oral narratives, the author traces the journey of Two-Spirit people from pre-colonial times to the modern era, emphasizing their resilience and ongoing efforts to reclaim their place within Native nations.  

Pageboy” by Elliot Page 

A coming-of-age memoir by Elliot Page, an Academy Award-nominated actor and prominent trans advocate. In this intimate and candid narrative, Elliot delves into never-before-heard details about his journey of self-discovery, navigating issues of gender, love, mental health, relationships, and the pressures of Hollywood fame. Through heartfelt storytelling, Elliot shares his experiences of finding love, grappling with personal identity, and embracing authenticity in the face of societal expectations. 


Our Colors” by Gengoroh Tagame 

a captivating graphic novel following Sora Itoda, a sixteen-year-old aspiring painter in contemporary suburban Japan, as he navigates the challenges of coming of age and coming out as a gay young man. His friendship with Nao, mistaken by others as romantic, provides solace amidst societal expectations. When Sora meets Mr. Amamiya, an openly gay coffee shop owner, a mentorship ensues, guiding Sora in embracing his true self. However, their journey is complicated by Mr. Amamiya’s past, highlighting the complexities of living authentically in a society that often demands conformity. 

With Teeth” by Kristen Arnett 

A poignant exploration of motherhood, marriage, and family dynamics by the author of the New York Times bestseller “Mostly Dead Things.” Sammie Lucas grapples with fear and uncertainty as she navigates life with her difficult son, Samson, whose behavior challenges her at every turn. Despite her efforts to bond and create a perfect queer family with her absent wife, Monika, Sammie’s world unravels as Samson’s aggression escalates. The novel delves into the complexities of parenthood, love, and the fragile nature of family relationships, blending warmth, wit, and candid insight into queer family dynamics. 

First Time For Everything” by Henry Fry  

A novel that follows Danny Scudd, a gay man navigating life’s uncertainties and challenges. After discovering his partner’s infidelity and facing eviction from his flat, Danny moves in with his childhood friend Jacob and their eclectic group of friends in East London. As he grapples with his identity, sexuality, and past traumas, Danny embarks on a journey of self-discovery, dating, therapy, and new experiences, ultimately questioning if he is truly “fine” as he confronts his inner demons and embraces life’s possibilities. 


 “Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story” by Jacob Tobia 

A poignant and humorous memoir that delves into the challenges and triumphs of growing up uncertain about one’s gender identity. Jacob Tobia shares their journey from being labeled “male” at birth to navigating societal expectations of masculinity, ultimately embracing their identity as a sensitive, creative, and glitter-loving individual. Through candid storytelling and witty humor, Jacob challenges stereotypes and invites readers to reconsider traditional notions of gender, advocating for a more inclusive and understanding world. The memoir takes readers on a captivating gender odyssey, exploring themes of self-discovery, resilience, and the power of embracing authenticity. 

Fiebre Tropical” by Juliana Delgado Lopera 

Lit by the hormonal neon glow of Miami, this debut novel delves into the coming-of-age and coming-out journey of Francisca, a Colombian teenager transplanted to Miami. Amidst her mother’s immersion in an evangelical church, Francisca grapples with alienation and newfound desires. Her world shifts when she meets Carmen, the pastor’s daughter, sparking a passionate and tumultuous relationship amidst family struggles and personal growth. 


Time Is a Mother” by Ocean Vuong  

In this deeply intimate poetry collection, the author navigates the aftermath of his mother’s death, exploring grief, family dynamics, and the impact of American wars on personal identity. Through vivid and propulsive verses, the poems delve into memory, loss, and resilience, reflecting on fragmented lives and the search for restoration.  




Memorial” by Bryan Washington  

A funny, sexy, and profound dramedy follows two young men, Benson and Mike, navigating their relationship crossroads in Houston. Mike, a Japanese American chef, faces family revelations in Osaka while his acerbic mother visits Texas. Meanwhile, Benson, a Black day care teacher, reevaluates his life’s direction. As they grapple with love’s complexities, the story explores family dynamics, personal transformation, and the resilience of love. 



Yerba Buena” by Nina LaCour  

In Nina LaCour’s debut adult novel, two women, Sara Foster and Emilie Dubois, navigate their intertwined destinies amid personal struggles and romantic entanglements. Sara, a bartender with a mysterious past, and Emilie, a student seeking purpose, find an immediate connection that is repeatedly tested by their past traumas and life choices. As their love blossoms amidst challenges, they must confront their histories and decide if their bond can withstand the trials that fate throws their way in this poignant and propulsive love story.  


How We Fight For Our Lives” by Saeed Jones  

we follow the journey of a young, black, gay man from the South as he grapples with identity, family dynamics, and societal expectations. Through a series of vignettes, Jones explores relationships with his mother and grandmother, as well as his experiences with lovers, friends, and strangers, weaving together themes of race, queerness, power, vulnerability, love, and grief. His unique blend of poetry and prose creates a captivating narrative that is both sensual and powerful, making “How We Fight for Our Lives” an essential read that delves into the complexities of becoming oneself amidst the challenges of sex, race, and power. 

It Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror” by Joe Vallese  

This collection of essays delves into the complex relationship between queer and trans individuals and horror films. Writers analyze various horror movies, discussing how these films have both reinforced and challenged societal norms related to gender and sexuality. Themes such as the final girl trope, body possession, hidden identities, and closeted fears are explored, highlighting moments of resonance and connection for queer audiences. The essays reflect on the empowering and oppressive aspects of this relationship, showcasing the nuanced interplay between queerness and horror in cinema. 

2024 Anticipated Books:  



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