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Making Waves: 5 Contemporary LGBTQIA+ Authors To Check Out

LGBTQIA+ Authors

The pen is mightier than the sword.

As humans, we have always found ways to express ourselves. Whether through speaking, drawing, or writing, these forms of expression have been the foundation of our ability to communicate our ideas and beliefs.  


In today's world, with so many pressing social issues and advocacy groups looking for ways to instigate change, people often turn to protests and violence to voice their concerns. But there is a more powerful and persuasive tool than any of these: the written word.  

Throughout history, the written word has been a powerful catalyst for change, particularly in empowering marginalized communities like the LGBTQIA+ community. In this blog post, we will explore the remarkable contributions of five contemporary LGBTQIA+ authors whose works have played a crucial role in the ongoing pursuit of justice, equality, and representation. 

LGBTQIA+ Authors You Should Know

Ocean Vuong 

Ocean Vuong is a poet and novelist whose work explores themes of love, family, and identity. He gained widespread acclaim with his debut poetry collection, “Night Sky with Exit Wounds,” which received numerous awards, including the esteemed T.S. Elliot Award, and is known for his powerful, lyrical writing style.  


“[Vuong's] words are liquid, flowing, rolling, teasing, mighty and overpowering. When Vuong's mother gave him the oh-so-apt name of Ocean, she inadvertently called into being a writer whose language some of us readers could happily drown in… Like so many immigrant writers before him, Vuong has taken the English he acquired with difficulty and not only made it his own - he's made it better.” - Maureen Corrigan, NPR 

In his writing, Vuong explores his experiences as a queer Vietnamese-American immigrant and tackles topics such as intergenerational trauma, desire, and the complexities of language. His first novel, “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” was published in 2019 and received recognition for its bold and lyrical storyline that explores important themes such as queerness, race, and the immigrant experience.  

Carmen Maria Machado 

Carmen Maria Machado is an acclaimed American writer known for her unique blend of genres, including horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Her writing is innovative and thought-provoking, often delving into themes of queerness, sexuality, and the female experience.  


Machado first gained widespread recognition for her debut short story collection, “Her Body and Other Parties” - an inspired collection that explores themes of gender, sexuality, violence, and desire. This compilation received critical acclaim for its bold exploration of women’s experiences and intersections of desire and power, receiving a nomination for the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, among other accolades.  


In addition to her short stories, Machado is also known for her memoir, “In The Dream House,” published in 2019. This memoir delves into her own experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship using a unique blend of narrative styles and genres to explore the complexities of domestic violence within queer relationships.  


Roxane Gay 

With a last name like “gay,” Roxane was destined to become an influential force within the LGBTQIA+ community. Best known for her powerful and insightful writing on topics such as race, gender, body image, and feminism, Gay first gained recognition for an essay collection entitled “Bad Feminist.”  


This collection, which explores the complexities and contradictions of modern feminism using Gay’s personal experiences, became a New York Times bestseller and received critical acclaim for its honesty, humor, and thought-provoking analysis.  


“In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.” - Goodreads Review of “Bad Feminist.” 

Gay is also an advocate for marginalized communities and often uses her platform to raise awareness about social justice issues. She is a vocal supporter of LGBTQIA+ rights, racial equality, and women’s rights. Gay’s writing and activism have made her a respected and influential figure in contemporary literature.  

Casey McQuiston 

Casey McQuiston is a contemporary romance author known for their debut novel, “Red, White & Royal Blue.” Published in 2019, this book tells the story of two young men from influential families who develop a romantic relationship amidst political drama and media scrutiny. It has received numerous awards and nominations, including the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance. 


“I live at the intersection of fun, escapist romantic adventure, and smart-mouthed characters with bad manners and big hearts,” McQuiston says of their work. 

McQuiston identifies as queer and uses they/them pronouns. They have expressed their passion for writing stories that celebrate love and explore themes of identity and acceptance, often incorporating humor, political elements, and complex relationships. McQuiston’s highly-anticipated fourth novel, “The Pairing,” is set to release in August 2024. 

Sarah Waters Books

Sarah Waters 

Sarah Waters is a British author known for her historical fiction novels, particularly those with lesbian themes. She has gained critical acclaim for her compelling and atmospheric storytelling that transports readers to different times and places throughout history with each read.  


Waters has written several notable novels, including “Tipping the Velvet,” a story set in Victorian England that follows the journey of a young woman discovering her lesbian identity, and “Fingersmith,” a gripping tale of deception and romance also set in Victorian England (London).  


Waters has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize multiple times and has won many accolades, including the Betty Trask Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the British Book Awards’ Author of the Year.  


Several of Waters’ novels, including “Tipping the Velvet” and “Fingersmith,” have been adapted for television and film, introducing her work to an even wider audience. Her novels have resonated with readers around the world and have contributed to increasing LGBTQIA+ representation in literature.  

Have You Read Any Of These LGBTQIA+ Authors? 

Representation matters, and so does the work of these five remarkable authors, alongside countless others throughout history. While protests certainly have their place in driving social change, the power of the written word is simply unparalleled. These authors and the enduring legacy of their work will forever be etched into LGBTQIA+ history.  
Have you read any of the books mentioned here? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave your own review in the comments. 
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