25 Latinx Reads to Celebrate Pride!
Happy Pride! Although every month is a good month to celebrate and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and voices, I wanted to take a moment to share a list of amazing LGBTQ+ Latinx reads this June! I’ve talked briefly on this site about the double erasure that Latinas based on gender and ethnicity face in publishing, this is even more true for Latinx authors. Which is why it important to promote and celebrate works by Latinx authors from across and outside the gender and sexuality spectrum.
In many parts of Latin America and the Latino US, sex, sexuality and non-binary genders remain taboo topics and living openly outside of hetero, binary norms can lead to isolation, emotional or even physical harm. Luckily this is changing, slowly but surely, especially among younger generations. A good way to start changing the status quo is to increase the exposure that Latinx voices have in your community, so pick up a book from the list for yourself or for a friend or family member.
To get you started I’ve put together a list of fiction, non-fiction and poetry by and about Latinx folk. Some of these I’ve read and enjoyed and some are on my TBR. While this is by no means exhaustive list, I’ve tried to pick the best of the best and tried to include a wide variety of experiences. If you have other Latinx books that you don’t see on this list that you would like to add, please share them in the comments section below, I would love to hear about them!
America #1 by Gabby Rivera by Gabby Rivera (Comic)
America #1 might be the queerest comic I’ve ever read. That, my friend, is saying something. I expected some aspects of LGBTQ awesomeness – it’s America Chavez after all – but we’re talking literal rainbow flags and make-outs, two moms and more snapbacks than you can shake a stick at. It is glorious. I practically expected someone from the USWNT to make a cameo -Book Riot
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (New Adult)
Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.
Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Córdova (YA)
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Short Stories)
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies
Empanada: A Lesbiana Story en Probaditas by Anel Flores (New Adult)
The voices in Empanada's kitchen will definitely not be shy! Each probadita is told from the bustling space of the kitchen and heavily spiced with hurt and yearning, lust, desire, passion and bliss. Each bite of Empanada will take you on a journey through the heart of Paloma, a young lesbiana learning to maneuver her loving heart through a culture of judgment. This collection of vignettes is divided into three macroscopic sections: Food, Religion and Sex where personal, cultural and gender identity are in constant flux, but finally birth a new geographic space in Latina, Chicana, Mexican and Lesbian literature and lesbianidad.
Chulito by Charles Rice-Gonzalez (YA)
Set against a vibrant South Bronx neighborhood and the queer youth culture of Manhattan's piers, Chulito is a coming-out, coming-of-age love story of a sexy, tough, hip hop–loving, young Latino man and the colorful characters in his vibrant neighborhood. Chulito, which means "cutie," is one of the boys, and everyone in his neighborhood has seen him grow up—the owner of the local bodega, the Lees from the Chinese restaurant, his buddies from the corner, and all of his neighbors and friends, including Carlos, who was Chulito's best friend until they hit puberty.Vivid, sexy, funny, heartbreaking, and fearless, this brilliant work is destined to become a queer classic.
Sirena Selena by Mayra Santos (Literary Fiction)
Discovered by Martha Divine in the backstreets of San Juan, picking over garbage, drugged out of his mind and singing boleros that transfix the listener, a fifteen year old hustler is transformed into Sirena Selena, a diva whose uncanny beauty and irresistible voice will be their ticket to fame and fortune. Auditioning for one of the luxury hotels in the Dominican Republic, Selena casts her spell over Hugo Graubel, one of the hotel's rich investors. Graubel is a powerful man in the Republic, married with children. Silena, determined to escape the poverty and abuse s/he suffered as a child, engages Graubel in a long seduction in this mordant, intensely lyrical tragi-comedy - part masque, part cabaret - about identity (class, race, gender) and "the hunger and desire to be other things."
Life is Wonderful, People are Terrific by Meliza Banales (New Adult)
From the forests, beaches, and Xicano community of Santa Cruz to the smokey punk bars, strip clubs, and Queer-girl culture of San Francisco, these are the stories of being young, drunk, punk and Xicana in Northern California in the 90's.
The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz (YA, Magical Realism)
Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile in the past year. Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is in a coma. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.
One of a Kind, Like Me/Unico Como Yo by Laurin Mayeno (Children’s Lit)
Tomorrow is the school parade, and Danny knows exactly what he will be: a princess. Mommy supports him 100%, and they race to the thrift store to find his costume. It's almost closing time; will Danny find the costume of his dreams in time? One of A Kind, Like Me / Unico como yo is a sweet story about unconditional love and the beauty of individuality. It's a unique book that lifts up children who don't fit gender stereotypes, and reflects the power of a loving and supportive community.
The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis (Historical Literary Fiction)
February 1913: seventeen-year-old Leda, carrying only a small trunk and her father’s cherished violin, leaves her Italian village for a new home, and a new husband, in Argentina. Leda eventually acts on a long-held desire to master the violin, knowing that she can never play in public as a woman. She cuts off her hair, binds her breasts, and becomes “Dante,” a young man who joins a troupe of tango musicians bent on conquering the salons of high society. Now, gradually, the lines between Leda and Dante begin to blur, and feelings that she has long kept suppressed reveal themselves, jeopardizing not only her musical career, but her life.
What Night Brings by Carla Trujillo (YA)
Marci Cruz wants God to do two things: change her into a boy, and get rid of her father. What Night Brings is the unforgettable story of Marci's struggle to find and maintain her identity against all odds - a perilous home life, an incomprehensible Church, and a largely indifferent world. Winner of the Miguel Marmol prize focusing on human rights, the Paterson Fiction Prize, the Latino Literary Foundation Latino Book Award, the Bronze Medal from Foreword Magazine, and Honorable Mention for the Gustavus Meyers Books Award. Also shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (YA, Magical Realism)
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.
With Her Machete in Her Hand: Reading Chicana Lesbians by Catriona Rueda Esquibel
Catriona Rueda Esquibel starts from the premise that Chicana/o communities, theories, and feminisms cannot be fully understood without taking account of the perspectives and experiences of Chicana lesbians. To open up these perspectives, she engages in close readings of works centered around the following themes: La Llorona, the Aztec Princess, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, girlhood friendships, rural communities and history, and Chicana activism.
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa
Writing in a lyrical mixture of Spanish and English that is her unique heritage, she meditates on the condition of Chicanos in Anglo culture, women in Hispanic culture, and lesbians in the straight world.Venting her anger on all oppressors of people who are culturally or sexually different, the author has produced a powerful document that belongs in all collections with emphasis on Hispanic American or feminist issues.
Born Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria (Memoir)
Born Both is the story of my lifelong journey toward finding love and embracing my authentic identity in a world that insists on categorizing people into either/or, and of my decades-long fight for human rights and equality for intersex people everywhere.
When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love and Revolution by Jeanne Cordova (Memoir)
By turns provocative and daringly honest, Cordova renders emblematic scenes of the era---ranging from strike protests to utopian music festivals, to underground meetings with radical fugitives---with period detail and evocative characters. For those who came of age in the 70s, and for those who weren’t around but still ask, "What was it like?", Outlaws takes you back to re-live it. It also offers insights about ethics, decision making and strategy, still relevant today.
Words of Fire! Women Loving Women in Latin America by Antonia Amprino, Katie Marguerite Gray (Translation)
In this impressive book Antonia Amprino breaks the silence on women loving women in Latin America. In cultures where religion and patriarchy reign romantic bonds between women are proscribed and driven underground. While these relationships have been invisible in the historical record, they have not gone unnoticed. Traveling across Latin America, Amprino unearths these treasures of subaltern love and takes us into the lives and hearts of women who, in their struggle to find true love, also discover themselves anew, clarity of purpose and new truths.
Tortilleras: Hispanic and U.S. Latina Lesbian Expression by Lourdes Torres (Editor), Inmaculada Pertusa (Editor)
The first anthology to focus exclusively on queer readings of Spanish, Latin American, and US Latina lesbian literature and culture, Tortilleras interrogates issues of gender, national identity, race, ethnicity, and class to show the impossibility of projecting a singular Hispanic or Latina Lesbian.
¡Cuéntamelo! Oral Histories by LGBT Latino Immigrants by Juliana Delgado Lopera
In addition to beautiful black and white drawings of the contributors by artist Laura Cerón Melo, this edition will feature a number of candid earlier photographs of several of the contributors, as well as a new introduction from Juliana ¡CUÉNTAMELO! is "[a] stunning collection of bilingual oral histories and illustrations by LGBT Latinx immigrants who arrived in the U.S. during the 80s and 90s. Stories of repression in underground Havana in the 60s; coming out trans in Catholic Puerto Rico in the 80s; Scarface, female impersonators, Miami and the 'boat people'; San Francisco's underground Latinx scene during the 90s and more."
Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About by Carla Trujillo (Essays and Poems)
"When I was selling books at a Chicana conference, I noticed book buyers were literally afraid to touch this anthology. I say now what I said then, 'Don't be scared. Sexuality is not contagious, but ignorance is.' If you've ever been curious, been there, been voyeur, been tourist, or just plain under-informed, misinformed, or unaffirmed, here is a book to listen to and learn from."--Sandra Cisneros
Loving in the War Years by Cherríe L. Moraga (Essays and Poetry)
Weaving together poetry and prose, Spanish and English, family history and political theory, Loving in the War Years has been a classic in the feminist and Chicano canon since its 1983 release. This new edition—including a new introduction and three new essays—remains a testament of Moraga's coming-of-age as a Chicana and a lesbian at a time when the political merging of those two identities was severely censured.
Mariposas: An Anthology of Modern Queer Latino Poetry Edited by Emanuel Xavier
"Just as blood curses through our queer Latino veins, so does a complex and sometimes contradictory history. The words captured in this volume of poetry perfectly capture a moment in time in which we all are in flux and yet still very much grounded in the moment. Personally, these poems speak to my being, my sexuality, my erotic desires, my future hopes and my wishes for new generations and yet they also stand for the danger that those words might also be fragile and easily forgotten. It is up to the reader to make these words count for something. And, simply said, it's just an amazing and moving collection of poems that truly represents who we are as queer Latinos at this crucial moment in time." -Andrs Duque, LGBT rights activist
For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly by Yosimar Reyes
From the Mountains of Guerrero, Mexico comes Yosimar Reyes, a Two-Spirit Poet/Activist based out of San Jose, CA. He holds the title for 2005 as well as 2006 South Bay teen Grand SLAM Champion, has been featured in the Documentary 2nd Verse: the Rebirth of Poetry, and has been published in Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry.
Sad Girl Poems by Christopher Soto
Christopher Soto (aka Loma) is a queer latin@ punk poet & prison abolitionist. Their first chapbook “Sad Girl Poems” delves into their relationship with domestic violence, queer youth homelessness, & the suicide of a close friend.