PRIM Black’s Edit: 5 Must-Read Black LGBTQ+ Books
When it comes exploring queerness, what quickly becomes apparent is how much you’ve had to reduce yourself. How many times you’ve had to not speak about who you’re dating, who you’re interested in, or who’s got you flicking your bean joyfully in the late hours. oop.
As a community we need people we can be our true selves with, we need to see it, we need to feel it. Club culture creates that space, you can go out and feel truly free and able to express who you are with who you want. It’s beautiful and enriching, but it’s not all we are and not all we should have.
We have to also recognise us queers have differing interests, different things we love doing, that we find healing and empowering. For me, the club is one of those things and I also love reading, hearing, and watching stories. They all inform one another and take me somewhere new. Reading a book about a Black girl with the power to move oceans or enter your dreams. Listening to a story about a boy in a cafe, who’s feeling the boy who brings him his tea and sausage sandwich. Seeing loving yourself become possible through their eyes because you saw them come through it. Engaging in our stories shows what’s possible, creating your story gives you confidence and makes us visible, it allows us to learn about ourselves and others.
This is why PRIM exists, to make stories by African, Caribbean and Afro-Latinx fam available and readily accessible. It was born out of not seeing enough queer stories and generally stories of people of Black ancestry. We have a platform coming showcasing all the mediums used for storytelling by people of Black ancestry – poetry, scripts, short stories, music videos, films, documentary, self-portraits, soundscapes, audio content. We also have OKHA, the queer + Black book club.
All of it contributes to us being able to be our full authentic selves, not just sometimes, but all the time.
To begin your journey I’ve got 5 reading recommendations. All of the reads are great entry points to understanding being queer & your feelings. These books show that these difficult feelings are shared and you’re not alone. You can also get most of these on Audible and listen to them if reading isn’t your bag.
1. Pet – Akwaeke Emezi
Admittedly, I have not read this one and it’s on our OKHA read list for this year. The story is a science fiction-fantasy novel about a transgender teen girl who hunts a child abuser in her town with the help of a creature that comes to life from her mother’s painting.
2. HAG: Forgotten Folktales Retold – ‘Sisters’ by Liv Little
A beautiful tale about 2 sisters one of whom is gay and living gay life with all the hard stuff that comes with it. The other sister is kinda naughty, to be honest, but also looking for love. I can’t say much without ruining it, but it’s a lovely short story.
3. Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo
Where to begin with this book. There’s so much in it, and incredible read that just normalises the existence of women, of all ages and in all our variety. It’s one of those books you’ll pick up and read time and time again.
4. Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta
This book, to be honest, is queer 101. It has everything that so many of us have to endure because of culture, family, and the perspective that far too many hold, that being queer is wrong. It’s touching, often sad, but a real story in overcoming resistance and staying true to yourself.
5. Rainbow Milk – Paul Mendez
An amazing story of being queer, Black and an escort. Vivid storytelling, that not only touches on gay nightlife but also survival. It also shows that not everything happens in London, there’s a whole world of gays living in other parts of England.
Images from PRIM Black & Waterstones