Library Services


Celebrating LGBTQ+ books in UCL Libraries

14 February 2022

We asked members of the UCL community to recommend books that celebrate LGBTQ+ life, culture and creativity in all its beauty and diversity.

Transgender flag flying atop the UCL portico

The Library’s Liberating the Collections group have created a list of book recommendations made by students and staff at UCL to celebrate LGTBQ+ History Month.

Have you read them all? What are we missing? Join us on Twitter or Instagram and share your own recommendations, or fill in the form.

Your recommendations

The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice by Shon Faye

It's a critical piece of literature assessing what is happening in the UK, especially in the media, surrounding how transgender people are being treated and represented. It's critical to acknowledge this book as it's quite possibly one of the most intensely researched and one of the most relevant pieces of literature surrounding how transgender people are being treated right now in the UK.

Louis X. Meikle

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele

It's a brilliant, friendly guide to the academic side of what queer and queer theory means (in a multiple, inclusive, and/both way of the word "mean"). Genuinely both accessible and useful for newcomers to the field _and_ to anyone who is simply interested whether they're studying or not. Beautiful and educational!

Dr Alison Lamont

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

I absolutely loved this book, it's unlike anything I've ever experienced. It breaks the boundaries of verse and poetry and narrative and grapples with queerness, sexuality, belonging, family and so much more. Really encourage everyone to pick up a copy and get reading!

Dhara Snowden

This book is the most beautiful poem that tells the necessary story of being the queer child of immigrants.


No Modernism Without Lesbians by Diana Souhami

It was an accessible fun read while also enlightening me to lesbian contributions to modernism.

Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson

In this book, Jeanette Winterson has detailed her battle with her mother and the unforgiving community; for kids growing up in “traditional” families, coming out to parents will always remain a struggle and sometimes could lead to trauma. I love how Jeanette Winterson journals her familial battles alongside her own discovery of orientation. “Come in Manchester, this is Kindly Light.” (Also, her Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal is a great one too!) “Jeanette, will you tell me why?” “When I am with her I am happy. Just happy.” She nodded. She seemed to understand and I thought, really, for that second, that she would change her mind, that we would talk, that we would be on the same side of the glass wall. I waited. She said ”Why be happy when you could be normal?”

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

It's beautifully written, thoughtful and intelligent. I can read it again and again and find something new in it every time.

Alison Jermak

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

It's a beautiful, meditative reflection both on life and love lost.

Catherine Yuefang Tang

Courage to Be: Organised Gay Youth in England 1967 - 1990 by Dr Clifford Williams

It is part of the history of Gay teenagers in 1970's onwards (including me) when there was no real role model to look up to and the Gay Youth groups gave a place of sanctuary and someone to talk to when often being put down by society, bullied at school and problems with family sometimes resulting in being thrown out of the family home.

Ricky Kemp

Queer City by Peter Ackroyd

Very interesting and informative book about the history of LGBTQ+ people in London over centuries.


Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

It's a joyous celebration of life and the bittersweet twists and turns of finding your own path. Very easy read, hard to put down and you'll be wanting more!

Luca Ponzetta

The Love That Dares by Rachel Smith & Barbara Vesey

It's so rare to get such an intimate insight into exchanges between lovers, even though it feels a little cheeky to be reading others love letters. I know how much research went into creating it and ensuring representation across the LGBTQ+ community. (Oh and Rachel Smith is my wife *blush*).

Kat Nilsson

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

It was the first time I had ever seen a meaningful and complex bisexual woman portrayed in a witty, sharp novel and it made me feel so validated. It makes such a difference to see yourself represented in media. It is also just a very funny, very fun book.

Kate Litwinczuk

The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt

The first gay themed book I ever read. It opened a different world to me...


Daniel at Sea by Philip Dundas

It's a beautiful and moving story of a 77 year old gay man who is coming to terms with events from his 20s in Barcelona that have haunted him his entire life, a story many of us from this generation can connect with our own memories of exhilaration and regret.

Ray Woods

In At the Deep End by Kate Davies

Great story and well written Winner of the Polari Prize 2020. A frank, funny, and racy odyssey through the pitfalls and seductions we encounter on the treacherous and more often, absurd path to love and self.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

I think science fiction books are an ideal medium for telling queer stories, and this one is a beautiful, bizarre, disturbing, and moving story about love. I hope it will both confuse and warm you as much as it did me.

Anna Oltman

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

It is well written, it challenges our views on gender and makes us escape from student life. When I was reading it, I could not wait for the time of the day where I could get to read my book. It is moving and it gives LGBTQ+ representation.

C+nto and Othered Poems by Joelle Taylor

...because there is not nearly enough butch poetry in the world. This masterpiece that just won the T.S. Elliot price is a bit of fiction, but also a memoir illuminating butch lesbian counterculture in London in the 90s.


All the things she said by Daisy Jones

It's a humorous and educational read about Lesbian and Bi culture. I particularly enjoyed the historical insight into well known queer London venues and events.


The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

It is written beautifully and you engage with the characters, definitely transports you.

Stavroula Lialiou

Queer Dharma by Jacoby Ballard

This is a stirring, powerful work on how both yoga and Buddhism can be tools for liberation for queer folks in all their intersectional glory, and how our identities are very much relevant to both these practices (and how, sadly, our identities are often disregarded).

Johanna Novales

Detransition Baby by Torrey Peters

“The book isn’t trying to win an argument about trans people’s right to exist, it just shows how they exist, imperfectly in a very imperfect world.”

A reminder to all “…that the T is an essential part of LGBT, and always has been”.


Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through by T. Fleischmann

Even though the essay's tone is melancholic, a sense of possibility pervades for those who have been made to not feel possible. Fleischmann writes about 'the love they offered to the many-handed hunger of transsexuality', about being 'unfixed from narrative' and wanting to leave their gender and sex life 'uninscribed'. Within a context of violence and death, this generous and intimate essay is invested in multiplying pleasure and joy by describing a life that’s lived in relation and open to the multiple ways friends, lovers, places and art can affect you: 'that we are making something by joining together'.

Hans Demeyer

UCL Library Services Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Photo of Steps to Progress exhibit in UCL Main Library
Library Services are dedicated to supporting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for our users and staff. We have produced a Library Equality, Diversity and Inclusion implementation plan, enhanced CPD opportunities for staff, and developed a set of race equality pledges for the department.

Find out more about the different events taking place this year at UCL to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month.

Read about the LGBTQ+ writers that inspire James Davis, a UCL History student.