When I came to terms with being a Lesbian it was through a moment in a book that featured a character that was both Mexican and Queer. At that moment, I felt I had an answer and language to the feelings I was having that I couldn’t explain to myself. After that moment happened, I searched the Internet and libraries for books featuring Lesbian characters. Most of the books often recommended were written by white authors or featured white Queer people. It took some digging to find Latinx authors writing about the intersectionality of being both Queer and Latinx, that helped me understand my own experience. So I wanted to make this list of Latinx authored books that feature Queer Latinx characters which I don’t feel get recommended enough!
We The Animals by Justin Torres
This novel centers three mixed race brothers within their complicated family. It’s poetic and literally breathtaking, exploring themes of coming of age, queerness and sibling love under 130 pages. Justin Torres is the also the author of the opinion piece “In praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club”. A piece I read every year to remember and honor the beautiful Queer souls lost in the Pulse nightclub shooting.
So Far From God by Ana Castillo
When I think about all the things literature can give to us to help shape our lived experiences, I always have So Far From God in mind. This story centers Sofia and her four daughters in a New Mexico town called Tome. With magical realism elements folded in, this captivating story of women finding themselves and stepping into their power covers themes of spirituality, gender and so much more. There’s a moment in this novel that I read as a teenager, which I felt allowed me to dream of living as my full authentic self- someone who is Latina and loves women too.
Waiting in the Wings: Portrait of a Queer Motherhood by Cherrie Moraga
I knew I was a Lesbian at a very young age. Yet what I knew about everything; I would encounter being a Lesbian was very little. I imagined a lot of it like some dream that fit within the same idea of the heteronormative nuclear family – a white house with a picket fence, a wife and children. Now as a queer mother, I did not notice how much I was attempting to find my role as a non-biological mother within the heteronormative nuclear family until I read Waiting in the Wings: Portrait of a Queer Motherhood. I see this book as a fundamental reminder that, as Queer people, we were never meant to assimilate to heteronormative ideals even if assimilation could be an open door to acceptance. I hold this collection of diary entries Moraga writes about her pregnancy and essays covering motherhood, families and partnership very close to my heart.
Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera
Kiskeya and Sully are the only two Dominicana women chefs who have made it to Scotland for the chance to win the Holiday Baking Challenge. They aren’t expecting to be placed on the same team, but as fate (or TV ratings) would have it, they end up being teamed up—which might have been okay if they weren’t extremely attracted to each other. Mangos and Mistletoe is a steamy, hunger-inducing holiday-themed novella which will truly have you begging for more!
Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis
When I first picked up Cantoras, I read the first 20 pages, set the book down and posted about it on Instagram immediately. The thing I remember saying that still rings true today is that this book is an oasis in the desert and it’s actually real. Why? Because it’s a novel that follows five Queer Uruguayan women. I had grown accustom to only reading about Queer Latina women in books as sub-characters. To have Queer Latina women front and center of a story felt so absolutely stunning to me. Flaca, Romina, La Venus, Paz and Malena live in Uruguay under a military government in 1977 that does not condone homosexuality. Despite this, they are able to find each other and discover Cabo Polonio, an isolated beach where they embrace & give into their desires. They become their own family of choice and hold each other during difficult times. So many things about this novel made it so empowering and powerful for me—but reading about Latina women craving and desiring other women wholly despite their circumstances was a rare literary experience for me.
The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles
Set in Brazil, this historical fiction novel is about female friendships, love, coming of age, music and loss. With both characters inspired by musical legends, I was blown away by the way you can feel the tension of desire float off the pages. This book is for anyone that’s known what it’s like to fall in love with your best friend and have that love impact your friendship.
Fiebre Tropical by Juliana Delgado Lopera
When I discovered I could read about Lesbians in books, the book that everyone kept mentioning was Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, and while that was such an important/fundamental book, I didn’t fully feel seen in it. So when I read Fiebre Tropical, I knew immediately it was my Rubyfruit Jungle! This immigrant queer coming-of-age story of Francisca finding herself within the tangles of her fractured uber-religious family is book I wish I had growing up. Unapologetically written in Spanglish, this novel is an ode to all of us bilingual children often forced to choose one language to dominate over the other. The very resistance of it to be either one or the other, make it an utterly raw depiction of growing up queer and Latinx in America.
Thrown in the Throat by Benjamin Garcia
I personally have always felt I needed a course on how to read poetry to truly understand it, however after reading this deeply layered poetry collection embedded with story-telling that transports you, I now understand that poetry is felt—not understood. Garcia drives in verse after verse about coming out, parental disappointment, closets, being undocumented and Queer so fiercely and with so much pride. This collection truly showed me the way language can be used to transmit a story outside of traditional settings.
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