12 books by Canadian LGBTQ writers to read during Pride Month
Pride celebrations are underway across Canada. To celebrate, here are 12 books by Canadian LGBTQ writers to check out.
The unnamed narrator of Dionne Brand's novel Theory is constructing an all-encompassing thesis on the past, present and future of art, culture, race, gender, class and politics. Their dissertation is inevitably impacted by three passionate love affairs, one following the other, which each re-shape and reorient the narrator's life and work.
Brand was the recipient of the 2019 Blue Metropolis Violet Literary Prize, which recognizes an LGBTQ Canadian writer for their body of work.
In When I Arrived at the Castle, a young woman determinedly makes her way to the Countess's castle, where many have gone but never returned. When I Arrived at the Castle is a gothic horror comic from Stratford, Ont.-based artist Emily Carroll, whose first two books Through the Woods, a collection of horror comics, and Speak, an adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson's YA novel, were published to critical acclaim.
In Me, Myself, They, filmmaker Joshua M. Ferguson writes about making history as the first person in Ontario to receive a non-binary birth certificate. The memoir begins in childhood and moves into adulthood as Ferguson's understanding of gender identity evolves and grows into something beyond the binary. Films by the Vancouver-based artist include Whispers of Life and Limina.
Samra Habib's memoir We Have Always Been Here is an exploration of the ways we disguise and minimize ourselves for the sake of survival. As a child, Habib hid her faith from Islamic extremists in Pakistan and later, as a refugee in Canada, endured racist bullying and the threat of an arranged marriage. In travelling the world and exploring art and sexuality, Habib searches for the truth of her identity. We Have Always Been Here is Habib's first book. She's a journalist, photographer and activist based in Toronto.
Mad Long Emotion is the latest poetry collection from Ottawa-based poet Ben Ladouceur. The poems look at the nature of love and loving for humans, flora and fauna alike. Mad Long Emotion creatively gazes at the interplay between species and the host of universal connections within the natural world. Ladouceur's previous poetry collection, Otter, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.
Ladouceur won the 2018 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ emerging writers.
In Death Threat, poet and musician Vivek Shraya collects the transphobic hate mail she received from a stranger in the fall of 2017. These disturbing letters, along with her responses, are accompanied by illustrations from Toronto artist Ness Lee, culminating in a surreal and satirical comic book about the spread of hatred, violence and dangers of the internet. Shraya is also the author of the essay I'm Afraid of Men and the poetry collection even this page is white.
Darrel J. McLeod's Mamaskatch is a memoir of his upbringing in Smith, Alta., raised by his fierce Cree mother Bertha. McLeod describes vivid memories of moose stew and wild peppermint tea, surrounded by siblings and cousins and explores coming to terms with his own sexuality and his sibling coming out as transgender. From his mother, McLeod learned to be proud of his heritage and also shares her fractured stories from surviving the residential school system.
Mamaskatch won the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.
- How writing about his traumatic childhood helped Darrel J. McLeod heal — and help others in the process
Iraq-born and Vancouver-based Hasan Namir is an award-winning poet. His debut collection of poetry, War / Torn, looks at parameters of religion and masculinity — weighing in on the nature of identity, belonging and love. Namir examines his experience with war and violence, along with his LGTBQ identity and his relationship with tenets of Islam.
Drawing from their Cree, Saulteaux and Métis heritage, Lindsay Nixon explores the profound loss of their mother in this memoir. Medicine and heartbreak are found in equal measure throughout this narrative, which tells stories of community, family and love.
From childhood, Lorimer Shenher knew he was a boy, though he was being raised as a girl. In This One Looks Like a Boy, Shenher tells his story of struggling with gender dysphoria before finally coming to accept he is trans and undergoing surgery in his 50s. Shenher is also the author of the book That Lonely Section of Hell, in which he describes his experiences working on the case of serial killer Robert Pickton.
Andreas Souvaliotis is an entrepreneur committed to finding new ways to promote public health, address climate change and encourage diversity. These passions are why he founded Carrot Rewards, a wellness app. In his memoir, Misfit, he shares how he turned his differences — being a gay immigrant entrepreneur with autism — into strengths and found success by being himself.
Arielle Twist is a Cree, Two-Spirit poet and educator based in the East Coast. Twist's debut poetry collection, Disintegrate/Dissociate, offers perspectives of human connections after death — looking at anger, grief, trauma and displacement left in its wake. Disintegrate/Dissociate depicts life for an Indigenous trans woman, one dreaming for a hopeful future and a clear path for self-discovery.