Throughout history, LGBTQIA+ stories have often been neglected or misrepresented, with writers from those communities sometimes risking their lives to have their words and perspectives published. To celebrate Pride, team Papier is excited to share some of our favorite books that illuminate the communities that have often been overlooked. From gay romance to gender fluidity, these books celebrate different identities and all kinds of love.
Loving: A Photographic History Of Men In Love, 1850s - 1950s – Emily, Assistant Visual Merchandiser
My favourite queer book has to be this one: A History Of Men In Love 1850s - 1950s. My boyfriend was gifted this book by a friend after he came out as bisexual, how sweet is that! Some of these photos are anonymous but some have little backstories tagged on, and they’re so heartwarming.
Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – James, Creative Director
This book pulled my heart in so many places. I knew the tale of the iconic hero Achilles (Brad Pitt in the film Troy), only as a god or demigod. But reading about this character as a boy who fell in love with another boy was incredible. It hit so many of my own feelings when I was young, every page shared moments of a life I longed for. Often same sex intimacy is reflected as friendship, however this book gave their relationship a purity I hadn’t seen before. I left reading this book with a lot of feelings. Gaps in history get so easily filled by cis-normative narratives or religious opinions that don’t help us feel more normal. This book gave me moments that made my heart long for love like that.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson – Jenny, Customer Service Manager
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a quirky, semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age novel by Jeanette Winterson. It’s a funny and poignant depiction of a northern, working-class, religious lesbian, which is not a group I’d seen represented in fiction before. The novel looks at the complexities of sexual orientation within a religious context, including her struggle with conformity as a naturally non-rebellious person. She has to reconcile her sexuality with her beliefs, and having been brought up in a religious household myself it particularly resonated!
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong – Yulia, Head of Community & Social
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous defies convention and cliché, opening out into a beautiful letter from a son to a mother (who cannot read) about her own history and his own present. It’s incredibly courageous and paints a portrait of 21st-century America, homophobia, racism, drug abuse, class, the experience of being queer and the son of Vietnamese immigrant parents in the US. The writing and the story, the characters, the setting – this story is at once beautiful and heartbreaking and I have no doubt that everyone will find solace in Vuong’s words.
Orlando by Virginia Woolf – Gabriela, Copywriter
Virginia Woolf was a complex individual – incredibly privileged in a lot of ways, but also marginalised as a queer, feminist, mentally-ill woman. It was probably her privilege – and co-ownership of the Hogarth Press – that enabled her to publish the forward-thinking, sharp and insightful Orlando. Inspired by her relationship with Vita Sackville-West (while both women were married to men), Orlando is touted as one of the first depictions of gender fluidity and pansexuality in fiction. It’s also an incredibly fun novel, tracking Orlando’s life over 400 years, as they turn from hero to heroine and fall in love with women and men. I love it. Plus, it has one of my favourite lines from literature ever, “Nothing thicker than a knife's blade separates happiness from melancholy.”