LGBTQ+ PRIDE is celebrated in June in many countries around the world. In the UK we celebrate PRIDE across June / July / August with London Pride Parade being held on 8th July this year. However, there is a good reason why PRIDE events and parades start being commemorated in June – so here’s a little history…
As the gay community blossomed in New York City in the 1960s, they had few places to gather publicly. At the time, it was still illegal to serve gay patrons alcohol, to display homosexuality in public or for two gay people to dance together. Under the guise of New York State’s liquor laws that barred ‘disorderly’ premises, the New York Police Department regularly raided bars that catered to gay patrons and arrested them.
In the early hours of the 28th June 1969, The Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan, NYC was raided by police. One of the few places left for LGBTQ patrons, the tavern was full of gay men drinking having watched a drag show. It seems amusing – initially – that armed New York City cops ran into alarm/arrest many six-foot-plus men in stilettoes, full make-up and drag, but it wasn’t. They beat them and pulled them outside forcibly; there was fear, panic, confusion and many of the patrons were by that time drunk. When the quiet crowd of sympathisers outside saw them push crying drag queens into their barred van, bottles, wigs, stones, lipsticks etc., were thrown at the police. Many people were arrested and hurt.
For the next six days, thousands of LGBTQ people, their friends and allies demonstrated and rioted. It was the start of the ‘Gay Liberation Movement’ and the start of political action towards equality and tolerance – although we still have a way to go.
PRIDE doesn’t celebrate the rioting, but the bravery of those men and women who took a stand and said, ‘enough is enough’. PRIDE demonstrates and reminds us to celebrate diversity, equality, inclusivity, love, life and tolerance.
All About Romance supports the ideal that love is love, and romance is for everyone, every day. For PRIDE month we have asked some choice writers of queer romance to recommend their favourite LGBTQ+ novel and tell us why it makes them squeal…
Getting in fast before someone else nabs it: Peter Darling by Austen Chant.
An ingenious own voices take on Peter Pan, with Peter as a trans man falling for Captain Hook, a premise that shifts from delightful to funny to profoundly moving. It deals with real and deep issues but never loses hope or joy; it’s a very thought-provoking work about growing up and fantasy and loss and identity, and also at the same time a terrific romp with an absolutely charming love story and a perfect ending. It is also impeccably written and edited. I’ll count myself lucky if I read a better romance this year. Genuinely lovely.
KJ Charles’ latest is An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the City #2)
The Charioteer by Mary Renault
Why I squee – The writing is beautifully economical – I envy Ms Renault’s ability to convey a whole paragraph in one word. And Laurie Odell is the most perfect hero. Handsome, decent, tragic, and trying to find his own way through an uncertain world.
Charlie Cochrane’s latest is Broke Deep (Porthkennack #3)
A Boy called Cin by Cecil Wilde
A Boy Called Cin is a lovely Cinderella retelling about a bi trans man and a bi genderqueer man, where grumpiness, money, and an age difference threaten to put the brakes on a sweet and sexy romance that kicks off when a billionaire buys a cup of coffee for a broke college student. Cecil Wilde’s book is funny and frank and the level of communication it shows between these two ought to be #squadgoals for everyone. Some trans romances I love because the fact that character(s) are transgender is just part of the background and not the focus of the story, but A Boy Called Cin is a book I love because of how deeply the characters’ gender identities are enmeshed in the story. Now I’m just hoping there’s a sequel about Tom’s sister some day!
Amy Jo Cousin’s latest is Callie, Unleashed (Play it again #2)
The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K.J. Charles
I guess it’s kind of pathetically obvious I’d choose K.J. Charles for this but, well, I’m choosing K.J. Charles for this. However, I’ll try to mix it up a bit by choosing what amounts to a ‘lesser-known’ Charles, in that it doesn’t belong to one of her established series. The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal is a series of interlinked short stories about the relationship between the Victorian ghost-hunter, Simon Feximal, and his biographer and lover, Robert Caldwell. Like much of Charles’s work it takes its inspiration from the pulp novels of the day and subverts to both queer and romantic purpose. Specifically, Feximal literally manifests the words of the dead upon his skin: lost narratives that he and Robert struggle to understand and, ultimately, complete. It’s a fitting reminder of the erasure of queer history, and the continued marginalisation of queer people and their stories. But Charles, as ever, offers us hope through her depiction of the relationship between her two heroes. Rare for romance, we get to see glimpses of them throughout the years, as the world changes but their love does not. Robert’s narrative ends abruptly ambiguously in the trenches of the First World War, but—like his editor in the note that closes the book—I believe that they found their happy ending: “Some little Mediterranean cottage … a place where a bright-eyed gentleman and his older companion might live in ghostless quiet, and spend their days together watching the sunlight on the sea.” Their invisibility no longer an expression of marginalisation, but a choice.
Alexis Hall’s Latest is How to Bang a Billionaire (Arden St. Ives #1)
It’s been the hardest thing ever to choose a single favourite queer romance! so here is one of the most recent I’ve read.
Priddy’s Tale by Harper Fox
This was enchanting and rewarding on so many levels – a blend of mystery, merman fantasy, and true contemporary romance. Set in the wonderful scenery of Cornwall, it’s especially dear to me as my husband comes from that part of the world. I ask a lot from a romance! and this delivered wit, angst, pathos, suspense, and joy.
Priddy’s awful life to date was handled pragmatically yet compassionately. My heart actually ached to see him battle on: it’s rare that I feel physically seared by a story like that. What I loved more was that, despite all that, he remained as handsome in mind as he did in looks. He deserved any joy that was to come his way. And that happened in the person – loosely speaking! – of the mysterious and mischievous Merou. He was adorable in his pure delight at stepping in and out of time periods and making the most of what each had to offer. And when he and Priddy came together, Merou was there for him, never faltering, even when Priddy himself wasn’t sure what to believe.
Their banter was delightful, and the unfolding of Merou’s true nature was handled with plausibility (as much as it can LOL) and amusement. Humour is one of the things I treasure most in a romance – not so much belly laughs as a gentle, clever, and cheeky wit. I found the ending just a little too soppy, but what I remember to this day is the total joy in reading their romance. In fact, I sobbed, smiled and sighed all the way through. You can’t ask for more from a romance book, can you?
Omorphi by Cody Kennedy
Okay so here we go with the squeeing…
I am a HUGE fan of Cody Kennedy. He writes incredibly detailed stories with angst and pain galore, and always manages to totally give me the feels. His Elpida series is a masterpiece, with his first book in the series, Omorphi, being my favourite one of all. The characters Michael and Christy are two of the most finely drawn and beautiful people, and Christy is my hero. He’s strong and gentle with a soul of steel and warmth at the same time. Just an incredibly atmospheric book of sheer delight. Make sure you have tissues handy.
The Back Passage by James Lear
I adore James Lear’s books, and this one is my all-time favourite. It’s the first Mitch Mitchell Mystery, although the mystery is entirely secondary to 22-year-old American Mitch, ahem, getting his end away with practically every man he meets. Set in my favourite historical period, the 1920s, it clearly owes a debt to the classic English country house mysteries of Agatha Christie et al. It’s brilliantly funny, sexy and also, at times, touching; Mitch may be sex-mad, but he’s not without more tender feelings, particularly for an old Cambridge chum who’s now engaged to be married. This isn’t a romance—but it is glorious, outrageous good fun, and was one of the inspirations for my own short story Brass Rags.
We would like to thank Bookish at Netgalley for the use of the wonderful Pride flag, made from covers of LGBTQ+ books. Please visit the original article to find out more: https://www.bookish.com/articles/bookish-and-proud-literary-lgbt-pride-month-flag/