Happy Pride Month, audiophiles! It’s a great time of year for lovers of LGBTQ+ lit—there are so many incredible new and upcoming queer titles to get excited about. If you’re looking for some fabulous queer romance to listen to this month (and always), DELILAH GREEN DOESN'T CARE, I'M SO (NOT) OVER YOU, SOMETHING FABULOUS, and LOVE & OTHER DISASTERS are just a few of my favorites from 2022 so far. And if you’re in the mood for other kinds of queer love stories—read on! This month I’m highlighting three books that celebrate many different kinds of love: romantic love, yes, but also queer friendship, self-love, community love, and the love among found families.
If you have not yet listened to Golden Voice narrator Julia Whelan’s gorgeous narration of YERBA BUENA by Nina LaCour, you are in for a real treat. In her adult debut, LaCour delves into the complicated lives of two queer twenty-somethings, Emilie and Sara, as they slowly find their way to each other. The novel unfolds slowly, following these two dynamic women through grief and loss, family drama, messy affairs, and shifting friendships. Whelan’s narration is delicate and light, assured but simple. She brings out the quiet beauty of LaCour’s prose, and highlights the emotional intensity of every scene. This is the sort of book you can get lost in, full of ordinary but meaningful details: a perfectly balanced cocktail, the smell of a family gumbo recipe, the light on someone’s face, the texture of a particular flower. Whelan narrates these details, along with fraught conversations and intimate moments between characters, with the perfect mix of subtlety and pathos.
YERBA BUENA is a love story, but the romance between Emilie and Sara is only one of the many kinds of love it explores. At heart, it’s a book about the work of loving yourself. Isaac Fellman’s debut DEAD COLLECTIONS is another novel that delves into the expansiveness of different kinds of queer love. It features a central romance, but it’s also a passionate love letter to queer and trans culture, fandoms, and archives. Dani Martinek reads this delightfully strange book with an enticing blend of wry humor, fury, and tenderness. Sol is a trans vampire who’s been avoiding the sun (and his life) by living out of the basement archive where he works. When Elsie, the widow of a famous lesbian TV writer, brings her late wife’s papers to the archive, she and Sol hit it off and begin a heated affair. Falling in love is the catalyst Sol needs to finally face his future. Martinek, with their chameleon-like ability to quickly shift their tone of voice, is the perfect narrator for this moving, quirky story. They narrate long conversations between Sol and Elsie with practiced ease, giving these intimate scenes the immediacy of a live performance. They embody all of Sol’s various moods and personas—cranky archivist, middle-aged cynic, gentle lover, curious researcher. This surprising book, full of references to queer culture, fascinating vampire mythology, and potent trans magic—is the perfect Pride Month listen.
Sometimes the most poignant love stories aren’t the romantic ones, but the ones about home, family, and community. Edgar Gomez’s memoir HIGH-RISK HOMOSEXUAL, which he reads with a brilliant mix of humor and vulnerability, is one of those books. In a series of interconnected essays, he writes about growing up as a Latinx queer person in Orlando, his family in Nicaragua, his first experiences with sex and intimacy, the importance of queer spaces, and the vital role drag and queer performance have played in his life. Gomez writes beautifully about just how life-saving platonic queer love can be. He pays homage to the gay bars and clubs in Orlando that welcomed him home, and explores the vital role that spaces like this play in the lives of so many queer people. His narration of his essay about the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting is particularly heartbreaking; he reads it with a palpable mix of love and grief. Listening to an author tell their own story always adds an additional layer of depth, and Gomez’s book is no exception. Gomez's voice—loud, bold, and free—overflows with love and exuberance, even when writing, and speaking, about the hard stuff.