Coming out as LGBTQ+ can be a challenging experience, fraught with emotions and anxiety. It’s a deeply personal journey, and everyone’s experience is unique. Books about coming out and featuring characters who are on the journey towards coming out can offer readers a window into the complexities of this experience and provide representation for those who may be going through it themselves.
Read on to see our favourite books about coming out, and don’t forget to check out our book reviews for YA and NA novels.
Our List of Books about Coming Out
One such novel is Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. The novel follows the story of Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the President of the United States, who falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales. As the two begin to explore their relationship, Alex must come to terms with his own bisexuality and what it means for his future. McQuiston does an excellent job of capturing the conflicting emotions that come with coming out, such as fear, uncertainty, and the desire to be true to oneself. The novel is a refreshing take on the traditional romance genre, and its message of acceptance and self-discovery is sure to resonate with readers (especially those who enjoy a little bit of steam).
The next in our list of books about coming out is The Miseducation of Cameron Post (now a fantastic movie!) by Emily M. Danforth. The novel tells the story of Cameron Post, a young girl who is sent to a religious camp after her aunt discovers that she is gay. At the camp, Cameron is forced to confront her feelings and come to terms with her sexuality, even as she is told that it is wrong and sinful. Danforth does an excellent job of portraying the isolation and shame that can come with being LGBTQ+ in a hostile environment, as well as the courage it takes to be true to oneself in the face of adversity. The novel is a powerful reminder of the harm that can be done by those who seek to deny others their identity, and the importance of finding one’s own path in life.
Another of our favourite books about coming out is the amazing classic Orlando by Virginia Woolf, one of BBC’s 100 Novels That Shaped the World. The story follows the life of Orlando, a young nobleman who changes gender and lives for three centuries, exploring the world and finding love in unexpected places. Woolf’s novel is a celebration of the fluidity of gender and sexuality, and an exploration of the ways in which society tries to restrict and confine us. It is a masterpiece of literary experimentation, and its message of self-discovery and acceptance is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1928.
One of the most significant challenges of coming out is the fear of rejection and ostracism from family and friends. This theme is explored in Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman. The novel tells the story of Elio, a young man who falls in love with his father’s graduate student, Oliver, during a summer in Italy. Elio struggles with his feelings and his sexuality, while Oliver is torn between his desire for Elio and the societal expectations that he faces. Aciman’s novel is a poignant exploration of the complexities of desire and the struggles that LGBTQ+ individuals face in a world that often seeks to deny them their happiness.
Another work that explores the themes of family and acceptance is the 1952 novel The Price of Salt (or Carol) by Patricia Highsmith. The novel tells the story of Therese, a young set designer who falls in love with Carol, who is trapped in a bitter and loveless marriage. As they set off across the United States and their relationship blossoms, Therese must come to terms with her feelings and the consequences that they may have for her future in a society that does not want her. Highsmith’s novel is a powerful exploration of the ways in which societal expectations can constrain us, and the courage it takes to break free from those expectations and be true to oneself.
Novels like this, and so many others, featuring characters who are faced with coming out, offer readers a powerful insight into the struggles and complexities of this momentous period in a person’s life. Coming out isn’t easy, as these novels often prove. But as more books that tackle this difficult subject are published, we can only hope for a happy ending for all.