Everyone, it's Pride Month!
This month, the prefects wanted to celebrate as many stories (written by both published authors and writers from our very own archives!) featuring queer characters as possible. These stories should really be featured all year, but we figured Pride Month was a good time to list our favorites. We also wanted to try something slightly different this month, where we asked queer members of HPFT to write their own personal stories, and we want to thank you guys so, so much for submitting them. If you still want to write a piece for our blog post, just PM @just.a.willow.tree and we can always edit it into the post!
Also, quick shoutout to HPFT, because today's HPFT's birthday! This community has been amazing, and a huge thank you to all the staffers who make it happen. <3
Without further ado, here are our recs (featuring commentary from the prefect that rec'd them)! All stories are listed alphabetically by title.
There are so many amazing, amazing books out there about queer characters, and since we're a writing community, we thought we'd share these first. This barely scratches the surface of LGBTQA+ stories, but it's definitely a good starting point. And these books are all amazing and meaningful, we can't recommend them enough!
(All book links are to Goodreads, so the M rating isn't necessarily for the book but for the comments within the Goodreads sections.)
A Boy Worth Knowing (M) by Jennifer Cosgrove
(rec'd by Claire)
After doing everything in his power to get through high school without anyone finding out he can talk to ghosts, Nate Shaw finds his world turned upside down when the new kid James Powell sits next to him in homeroom.
This is the absolute cutest progression of a relationship I have ever read. I love that Nate’s attraction to James is never played as the reason he’s isolated himself and their relationship is built on a genuine friendship that would make anyone happy.
The Abyss Surrounds Us (M) by Emily Skrutskie
(rec'd by Claire)
After being attacked and captured on her first solo Reckoner mission by pirate queen Santa Elena, Cassandra Leung must find a way to keep herself alive while preventing the pirates from getting the one thing that would help them rule the ocean: a sea monster of their own.
Sea monsters and lesbian pirates. Do I need to say much more?? (Though if I’m being honest, the queer storyline is extremely secondary to the sea monster and pirates storyline but both are still amazing).
Autoboyography (M) by Christina Lauren
(rec'd by Claire)
Three years after his family moved from California to Provo, Utah, bisexuel teen Tanner Scott signs up for his school’s most prestigious class that has only one assignment--write an entire novel in four months. Tanner expects it to be a piece of cake until he meets Sebastian Brother and realizes the importance of spelling.
Have you ever changed the name of a character halfway through a book and just thought “I’ll just do a find and replace later, it’ll be fine”? Reading this book might make you think twice about that And not only that, but Lauren weaves together so many different issues seamless and will have you rooting for ___ from the very beginning.
History is All You Left Me (M) by Adam Silvera
(rec'd by Claire)
After the death of his ex-boyfriend Theo, Griffin must deal with the personal fallout and figure out how to live in a world without the future he had imagined for himself.
Not only is this book an emotional rollercoaster, it is also a masterclass in narrative structure. The story is told non-linearly through two different time periods and will have you begging for more from the first page.
If I Was Your Girl (M) by Meredith Russo
(rec'd by Claire)
Moving back to her hometown to live with her estranged father was supposed to be a fresh start for Amanda Hardy...so long as she can keep her biggest secret: at her old school, she used to be Andrew.
Listen, this book grabs you right in the heart and refuses to let go. I read this almost six months ago and it still hits me just as hard as it did then. All of the characters are so raw and real and I promise that you will fall in love with all of them...well, almost all (Just a heads up that this book does deal with some very serious topics and themes so be aware if you do choose to read it.)
Leah on the Offbeat (M) by Becky Albertalli
(rec'd by Claire)
Set during their senior year, this sequel to SVTHSA follows Simon’s best friend Leah Burke as she tries to deal with everything around her changing while making sense of feelings she never thought she’d have to deal with.
I say this with the utmost love and respect--this is the fanfiction sequel of your dreams. Leah is just as amazingly perfect as she is in Simon and where else can you get a mainstream book with a fat bi protagonist??? Also, no spoilers but...road trip AU of my dreams.
Let's Talk About Love (M) by Claire Kann
(rec'd by Claire)
After her girlfriend breaks up with her over her asexuality, Alice tries to manage with the help of her best friends and her ever reliable Cutie-Code. But nothing could have prepared her for the newest library employee Takumi to make her question everything she thought she knew about herself.
I can honestly say that I have never read a book with an ace protagonist, much less a black bi ace protagonist. While I’m not necessarily recommending this for the writing, as someone on the ace spectrum it is a breath of fresh air to read a book and be able to say “yes, I know what that feels like.”
More Happy Than Not (M) by Adam Silvera
(rec'd by Claire)
In the aftermath of his father’s suicide. Aaron Soto turns to his girlfriend Genevieve for support. But when she leaves for a few weeks, he finds himself falling into a friendship with the new guy Thomas, stirring up feelings that he wished he could just forget even if it means forgetting who he is.
Do you like sci-fi? Do you like plot twists? Do you like crying non-stop for days because Adam Silvera ripped your heart out yet again? Then this is the book for you! I can’t recommend this highly enough. Adam is a genius when it comes to building up tension and foreshadowing and you will be gasping out loud when you come to the big reveal!
Openly Straight (M) by Bill Konigsberg
(rec'd by Claire)
Tired of always having to be The Gay Spokesperson in his hometown of Boulder, CO, Rafe decides to keep his sexuality to himself at his new boarding school in Natick, MA and see what comes out of it.
I’ll be honest, I was hesitant about this book when I first picked it up, but I ended up loving it dearly! It’s a super interesting take on the coming out story and though I wanted to smack Rafe upside the head a few times, his story and Ben’s are ones that carry a lot of weight.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (M) by Becky Albertalli
(rec'd by Claire)
Being blackmailed was not how Simon Spier planned on spending his junior year of high school but at least he has found the one person in school who can understand what he is going through--his anonymous pen pal, Blue.
I don’t know what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said a million times before. Please please please go read it.
They Both Die at the End (M) by Adam Silvera
(rec'd by Claire)
After getting the call that both of them will die in the next twenty four hours, total strangers Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio meet up to make the most out of their End Day.
Like all of Adam’s books, this will have you ugly crying in bed at 3am because you just can’t put it down. He weaves together so many narratives that will have you gasping in awe as you realize how they all fit in.
Our very own authors are so talented, so how could we not rec as many as we could? Since a lot of you have read the more well-known fics with queer characters already, we aimed to show you our favorites that you may not have yet read.
Leah didn't have a specific moment. She had a person.
A story about slowly progressing desire and self-realization, Abby Freaking Suso is wonderfully sarcastic and all-around charming. Leah’s characterization is handled in such a brilliant way and I love how slowly the relationship changed over time to become absolutely everything.
'You and I, Albus, we would have turned the world to ashes and risen together, phoenixes, standing high above the ruins, ready to take our rightful places and rule.'
Like all of Sian’s work, this is beautifully written (and I mean stunning, I have no idea how to write imagery quite like this). I’ve always been a sucker for Gellert/Albus but this one had me shook. The amount of feelings evoked from this piece is incredible and I highly, highly, highly recommend this.
Your name pounds through my veins in time with my heartbeat; Dominique, Dominique, Dominique.
Dominique, in this story, speaks to her love Imogen, and everything about this just reads as a beautiful, poetic love letter. It feels so personal, and really, that’s such an amazing thing to accomplish in writing fic.
If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? If two people love each other in private, is the survivor allowed to claim the public status of primary mourner? If no one speaks a truth out loud, is it still true?
This is the sequel to two certainties, which if you haven’t read that emotional rollercoaster, you definitely should, (see also: My poor, poor heart, the Sequel.) It’s a wonderful continuation of two certainties and I can’t imagine a way to possibly make this writing better. On top of being extremely well-written, it’s so much fun to read and I absolutely ADORED it. Careful though, it’ll continue to break your heart in the best way.
Advent is a time for hoping, for waiting, for believing; a time when gods descend to the earth, and the celestial is made temporal.
A shame then, that Grantaire believed in nothing but Enjolras.
Or, Grantaire lit four red candles, one each Sunday of Advent; each time, he was visited by a god: a god who performed miracles.
As we all know, Laura is a complete goddess at descriptions. The beauty with which she paints each individual scene, and the development of the relationship between Grantaire and Enjolras, is just absolutely breathtaking. This is not a romance in the typical sense, but it is well, well, well worth a read.
When faced with death Regulus cannot help but reflect on his life and the things that brought him to this point.
Insta-headcanon material. This does some wonderful character exploration on Regulus Black in the most brutally devastating way. It reveals much more about Regulus than I typically see explored and shows how much things like his sexuality have impacted him in his life.
[go read Simon if you haven't already]
So I’m not including a summary here because if you haven’t yet read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, you’re going to get spoiled. So, go and read Simon, and then come back to this fic, because it’s like Julie pulled these characters straight from the book. They’re adorable and so relatable, and their dialogue is everything.
Ginny always smelled of peppermint.
This Ginny/Luna one-shot is short and adorable. Every second is filled with something that can warm your heart (including a hilarious appearance from the most canon non-canon duo, Seamus and Dean), and just watching Ginny and Luna drifting closer together will make your day.
Somewhere in her smile, she knows I don't need another lover.
Let’s be honest, when am I not impressed by this author’s writing? Something is a beautifully written piece about Dominique Weasley and a woman she positively adores. It tackles the heavy topic of eating disorders and the struggle Dominique faces while watching that woman struggle. Everything about this is handled so well and I cannot get over how deeply this piece moved me.
I never loved anyone the way I had loved Remus Lupin,
and I knew that I would never love anyone in that way again.
What I absolutely adore about this fic is how it’s told from fugitive Sirius Black’s perspective. He remembers the joy and emotion from his past with Remus, and it’s that longing that really makes this fic so good. Meg did an amazing job with this!
Two young boys accepting that love is love and love is unstoppable.
Short and sweet, this one-shot shows a short moment in the lives of Albus and Scorpius as they deliberate coming out to their families, and there’s just so much hope and honesty in these 740 words that you can’t help but feel touched.
Korra and Asami take a vacation to the spirit world together.
Fans of Legend of Korra, this is just for you. (However, I read this even though I’ve never watched the series, and I still loved it.) Every moment of this fic is pure fluff and happy, magical goodness, and you will be rewarded with depictions of a gorgeous world and a gorgeous couple.
- A Susan Bones Story -
If you’ve ever read Sam’s beautiful When I Go Out With You, you will love this short one-shot that details Susan’s moments where she first embraces herself as a poly person. (It features Luna, too!) And even if you haven’t read WIGOWY, you should read this one-shot anyway. It’s such a beautiful, eye-opening look at polyamory.
And of course there are other stories that we want to recommend that may not fall under books or fics!
Check, Please! (M for language) [comic]
(rec'd by Eva)
Meet Eric Bittle—former Georgia junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and amateur pâtissier—who is starting his freshman year playing hockey at the prestigious Samwell University in Samwell, Massachusetts.
Eric Bittle is guaranteed to brighten up your day, with his abundant usage of Southern colloquialisms and his adorable obsession with baking, as he navigates being on a men’s hockey team (despite being scared to death of…bumping into other people). This story, while not perfect, is heartwarming and honest and true, with bright and beautiful graphics, and you will not regret reading this! (I binged this all at 3 a.m., if that accounts for anything. )
Fallout Series [video games]
(rec'd by Rumpels)
Many video games have been increasingly adding LGBTQA+ characters and integrating player-led romances. Games in the Fallout series, a series of post-apocalyptic action role-playing games, have always been leading the way with this inclusivity. Fallout (1997) was one of the first major releases to feature same-sex marriage in a video game. As far as player-led romances go, the Fallout series have always left sexuality choices open to the players preference. And while there are a lot of stories to be told as there are many different character outcomes based on player interaction, let me just tell you one of my most recent.
In Fallout 4, one of the companions available to your character (to travel with you) is a spunky, stubborn, and fabulous NPC character named Piper. NPCs nerby will either like or dislike your decisions based on the decisions you make throughout the game, and you build a rapport with these characters. Long-story-short, my [female] game character winds up in some sort of relationship with this character. The only problem is that if I choose a different companion at this point, Piper extremely dislikes that which puts me in a predicament when it comes to finishing side-quests that require other companions.
We wanted to end this blog post with your personal stories. Thank you so, so much to everyone who sent one in, it means a lot to us! And quick reminder that if you still want to write a piece, you can. <3
Existing while queer is a radical act and taking ownership of things we've been excluded from (only if we want to own them!) is, I think, an excellent act of taking up space and belonging.
The first time I met with my rabbi, I made a very deliberate decision to mention my (at the time) girlfriend and I'd already decided that if the reaction was not positive then I wouldn't return. She took it completely in stride and recommended a book exploring queerness and the Jewish tradition (if anyone wants recs, hit me up ) and I found a religious home where I wouldn't have to compromise any part of myself.
Religion is not for everyone, and that goes doubly so for queer people, who have historically been hurt in the name of religion since at least the beginning of Abrahamic religions. But if you want to be religious, whatever that looks like, don't feel that you have to compromise your queerness. There are traditions in most religions that will welcome you with open arms!
I'm not big on God, personally, but I love doing religion - the rituals, the stories, the arguing. And my queer, ace-spec-into-girls love is just as holy as a traditional heterosexual love because surely the best thing we can do in this world is leave it a little better - whether that means planting a tree, or writing something beautiful that gives someone else joy, or creating joy with someone else by living and loving them.
So I just want to tell everyone to keep on being holy just as you are, and there are no doors that closed forever when you realised you were queer unless you never want to open them again. Take up space, be yourself, and do holy work by making the world a little better.
And I think that’s the first time I’ve actually said (typed?) those words. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say them to my parents because, well. My mom once spoke out in defense of parents who used conversion therapy on their children, and my dad is quiet on the subject (though I know it makes him extremely uncomfortable to think about two guys or two girls holding hands romantically). And I don’t know why I haven’t come out to my sisters yet because I know more than anyone else they’ll understand [one of my sisters came out to me as bi, for goodness’ sake], but I think I’m just too shy, and private, and paranoid, and worried that something will change in our idyllic relationship, and not for the better.
Today, though, I wanted to talk about the beautiful support my school has for the queer community. Because, let me tell you, the pride is strong. There’s a thriving GSA club dedicated to opening up a space where queer kids could speak about their experiences. The few outspoken homophobes we have are always countered by other students who care about us. And my English teacher from junior year (I’m almost positive she’s queer herself, but I can’t say for certain) is one of my absolute favorite people on the planet, for many reasons, but mainly the following:
When my History teacher just lazily followed the textbook and completely skipped over the AIDS epidemic, my English teacher, in our next class, showed us an entire movie about the AIDS epidemic, explaining with a (subtle) roll of her eyes, “Well, I know Mr. S barely went over this, so I’m here to properly educate you. This was a major catastrophe in our history, when funding for research was low, and it’s important that you all know about it.” I know she was directly involved in the fight for funding when the AIDS epidemic was at its worst, as well. Really, she’s just such an inspiration.
I know I didn’t talk about myself too much, but instead shared my experiences with my high school as a whole. I know that there are so many concerning things going on in the world regarding treatment of queer people (though I’m most familiar with events in America), and I just wanted to show a little bit of hope amidst all of that.
Senior year is winding down for me, and so I think I’m going to be more open with myself in college. Fingers crossed!
So I haven’t told very many people about this but I’m demisexual. For those that are unsure what exactly that is and how it falls on the LGBT spectrum a short definition is that I am not sexually attracted to someone unless I have an emotional connection to that person. It’s basically the halfway point between asexual and sexual.
For me this is a pretty recent discovery thanks to the many people on the forums who identify as part of the LGBT Community. I started doing research to learn about the different orientations/preferences of our members to get a better understanding of the diversity we have on the forums. As I researched, I gained a better understanding of myself in the process.
I grew up very sheltered and as I became a young adult and able to make my own choices in the world, I always thought my preferences were a result of how I was raised. Growing up a member of the LDS church we are taught to wait until marriage before becoming active and that your spouse should be the only person you are intimate with. As I’ve gotten older and better educated, I realize that while the way I was raised does play a part in my daily life and my choices, my sexual identity is not one of those things.
I’ve never been one for one-night stands or “sleeping around” and find that what attracts me the most to a person is their inner character over their looks. Often times I get to have the lovely conversation discussing how I am attracted to someone who isn’t always aesthetically pleasing to most people. (by the way I hate having this conversation with people)
Most of my experiences have been quiet and sort of in the grey area when it comes to people’s reactions as I haven’t really told anyone outside of my mom and best friend. The ones outside of that have been people that I’ve been interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with and they seemed to back off and keep their distance once they understood that they would have to wait a while for me to be willing to become intimate with them. I have to admit one of the worst negative experiences I have endured came from the person who is now my ex-husband (this was before I knew there was a word for the way I was). Once we were married and his true colors started to show more, I quickly (in less than 6 months of being married) lost my attraction to him and for the most part had difficulty being intimate with him. This lead to both mental and emotional abuse along with the accusation that I was cheating on him. He also used this to validate his reasons for cheating on me and claimed that if I was intimate with him more then he wouldn’t have to look anywhere else. I had been cheated on before but as I wasn’t intimate with those individuals, those hurt a lot less than being accused of something I wasn’t doing then blamed when I found out that the person I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with was doing the very thing I was being accused of.
Now that I have a deeper understanding of who I am, the biggest struggle I have is finding a guy that understands who I am and is willing to wait before I am willing to participate in any activities outside of dating. But it’s okay because I’m more than willing to wait for someone who knows and understands my worth.
It took me a long time to figure out I was queer. I was in the questioning phase for a solid ten years. When I finally felt ready to claim ‘gay’ as a label, I suddenly found myself in the closet for the first time. It was a strange, uncomfortable experience and I wanted to get out of the new confinement as soon as possible.
Over the course of six months, I came out to almost everyone in my life. In doing so, I discovered something unexpected: People want to talk about sexuality! About half the time when I come out to someone, they confide to me that they or their opposite-gender partner is bi. Or that they’re poly, or ace, or questioning. Or maybe their sibling is, or their best friend. People I knew for years who had never told me this would bring it up of their own accord. Suddenly the queer world got a lot bigger.
For years I had felt so alone in my need to talk about my preferences. I felt like the only one in the world who didn’t have it figured out. And, sure, maybe sexuality is easy for some people - but I’ve come to realize that those people are the exception, not the rule.
The thing about being “in the closet” that I never realized until I found myself coming out, is that when you lock yourself away (or when society forces you to), you don’t realize how many other closets there are. You don’t realize that coming out is, in addition to an important act of trust and self-definition, am incredible gift to the people around you. It’s an invitation for others to open the door and say “me too.” I’m not saying anyone should come out because they owe it to others in some way. Coming out is a personal choice. Period. But how beautiful, how powerful, to discover that rather than dividing us, the experience of queerness has an incredible power to connect us.
It wasn't until the last few years that I learned about asexuality and what it is, but the honest truth it was the answer to a number of my lifelong questions. Learning that there is such a thing as asexuality and that there are others out there like me, was one of the biggest reliefs in my life. I finally understood that while my peers were talking about sex and fantasies I just did not care. In high school, I seriously questioned if I was in some way broken. Was there something seriously wrong with me mentally and psychologically. Everyone has sex dreams, everyone has that sexual fantasy. Everyone wants to see it all and if that certain attractive famous person walked up and offered to do everything in the book everyone will not hesitate to go with them - except for me. I didn't. I hated when conversation gravitated a certain way and when it came to the most attractive famous person I didn't want everything in the book. It was a very isolating experience and I had no one to turn to that I 1. Felt I could talk to and 2. Felt comfortable enough with to talk about it.
It is nice now to know that I'm not broken, that there really isn't anything wrong with me and I'm honestly not alone. It honestly is liberating and in some ways, I've wanted to tell the world about it but don't. It isn't something I go about advertising to a lot of people, and I think part of that stems from the fact that I spent so long hiding how I was different matched with the lack of understanding about asexuality.
Many people think being asexual means you are also aromantic, or you cannot find the human figure attractive and if you do you find both figures equally attractive. All of this, of course, is not true. I love and love deeply I love romanticism the idea of kisses and hand-holding and having that one person you are meant to be with forever. I also find the male figure attractive more so than the female figure. But when it comes to explicit content or the idea of sex I nope so hard. None of that is attractive and appealing to me. I have 0 understanding of how it is - for me, it ranges in the area of just ew.
Yet despite the struggles I have had and do continue to have, I am grateful to have and be in a community that is open and accepting of each of our diverse aspects, and I am glad that we can take the time to celebrate that.
That's it for today's post! We hope you enjoyed reading through it, and that perhaps you'll even pick up one of the rec'd stories or two. We just want you guys to know that you are loved, and that you are safe here, and that you're all amazing. Keep being you, guys.
We're going to sign off for now! Thank you for reading. <3
- The Prefects
recs by clevernotbrilliant, just.a.willow.tree, Rumpelstiltskin
personal stories by just.a.willow.tree, MalfoysAngel, MuggleMaybe, scooterbug8515
graphics by just.a.willow.tree