THE ESSENTIAL READ: What’s The T? by Juno Dawson
Discover what it means to be a young transgender and/or non-binary person in the 21st century in this new guide. In What's the T?, Stonewall ambassador, bestselling trans author and former PSHE teacher Juno Dawson defines labels and identities and offers uncensored advice on coming out, sex and relationships. Juno has also invited her trans and/or non-binary friends to make contributions, ensuring this inclusive book reflects as many experiences as possible. The companion title to Dawson’s bestseller This Book Is Gay, What's the T? tackles the complex realities of growing up trans with honesty and humour – and is complete with an extensive Q&A section and advice for parents and allies.
THE LISTEN: BBC 6 Music – Loud & Proud
This month, 6 Music is presenting a season of programmes celebrating gay culture and its journey from The Sexual Offences Act 1967 until the present day. Among the episodes, expect to hear girl band Sleater-Kinney spinning tracks by Perfume Genius, Nina Simone, Frank Ocean, Patti Smith and Prince; a 60-minute party mix from, Queer House Party, a DJ collective, community platform and award-winning LGBTIQ+ party; and Ru Paul's Drag Race UK finalist and queer icon Bimini Bon Boulash playing the likes of Madonna, Rihanna and Lily Allen.
THE NOVEL: Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
It's 1983, and 17-year-old Elio is staying with his family at their villa in Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who's working as an intern for Elio's father. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination and desire intensify their passion. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. Need more? The Oscar-nominated film, starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, really captures sun-soaked summers in Italy, all soundtracked by Sufjan Stevens’ soft piano compositions and 80s classics. And Aciman’s 2019 follow-up, Find Me – which tracks Elio and Oliver’s lives after Italy – is everything you’d want from a sequel.
THE DOCUMENTARY: Disclosure
Disclosure is an unprecedented, eye-opening look at transgender depictions in film and television, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures society’s deepest anxieties about gender. Leading trans thinkers and creatives, including Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Mj Rodriguez and Jamie Clayton share their reactions and resistance to some of Hollywood’s most beloved moments. Grappling with films like Dog Day Afternoon and The Crying Game and shows like The L-Word and Pose, they trace a history that is at once dehumanising, yet also evolving, complex, and sometimes humorous. What emerges is a fascinating story of interplay between trans representation on screen, society’s beliefs, and the reality of trans lives.
THE PREORDER: A Drag Queen’s Guide To Life by Bimini Bon Boulash
The win might have gone to Scotland’s Lawrence Chaney, but finalist Bimini Bon Boulash was the undeniable breakout star of the second series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK. Now signed up to Next Model Management, the self-described “gender bender, ‘cis-tem’ offender” is set to release her first book through Penguin in the autumn. The story of how drag took her from the brink of self-destruction to the mainstage, as well as life lessons drawing on convention-breaking icons from Kate Moss to Katie Price, the book is set to show readers how to lead the lives they wish they could lead, through the magic of dragging up.
THE TV CHANNEL: BBC Three
If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community, BBC Three’s huge selection of documentaries is a good place to start. The collection ranges from the ground-breaking Jamie: Drag Queen At 16 – which went on to become the inspiration for hit West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – to more recent shows such as Growing Up Gay with Years & Years’ Olly Alexander; The Sporting L Word with Clare Balding; Deep In Vogue, which celebrates the colourful, queer, emotional and political stories of Northern Vogue and its people; and A Change of Sex, which follows the late transgender activist Julia Grant through her transition.
THE RECENT HIT: Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men. Ames isn’t happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese – and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. So when Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby – and that she’s not sure whether she wants to keep it – Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for.
THE FILM: God’s Own Country
Francis Lee is one of the UK’s most exciting new directors, whose feature debut, God's Own Country, was released in 2017. An award-winning British romantic drama, the film stars The Crown’s Josh O'Connor and Alec Secăreanu and follows a young sheep farmer in Yorkshire whose life is transformed by a male Romanian migrant worker. If you like this, definitely make sure to check out last year’s equally beautiful Ammonite. Starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, it’s a wonderful reimagining of fossil hunter Mary Anning’s life and growing relationship with a woman she’s asked to look after.
THE CLASSIC READ: The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
The inspiration for Todd Hayne’s beautiful film, Carol – starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara – The Price of Salt is one of The Talented Mr Ripley author’s very best books. Erotic, eloquent and suspenseful, this story offers an honest look at the necessity of being true to one's nature. Therese, a struggling young sales assistant, and Carol, a homemaker in the middle of a bitter divorce, abandon their oppressive daily routines for the freedom of the open road, where their love can blossom. But their newly discovered bliss is shattered when Carol is forced to choose between her child and her lover. Originally published in 1952 under a pseudonym, The Price of Salt was heralded as the novel of a love society forbids and Highsmith's sensitive treatment of fully realised characters who defied stereotypes about homosexuality marked a departure from previous lesbian pulp fiction.
THE PODCAST: Out With Suzi Ruffell
Out with Suzi Ruffell is a podcast all about the inspiring lives of LGBTQ+ people. Across its 44 current episodes, comedian Ruffell interviews activists, models, actors, directors, musicians and TV presenters: think Gok Wan, Matilda’s Mara Wilson, DJ Scott Mills and multi-award-winning comedian Hannah Gadsby. From mental health to coming out, these stories are truly inspiring. A must-listen.
THE NEW SERIES: Master of None – Series 3
From Pose to It’s A Sin, there have been plenty of thought-provoking series to hit our screens recently – most of them mixing fun and humour in with more harrowing subject matters, making these uplifting, as well as educational, viewing experiences. The Emmy award-winning Master of None is no different and has just returned with a new season that chronicles the relationship of Denise (Lena Waithe) and her partner Alicia (Naomi Ackie). Directed by series co-creator and Emmy winner Aziz Ansari – and scripted by Ansari and Waithe – this new season is a modern love story that intimately illustrates the ups and downs of marriage, struggles with fertility, and personal growth both together and apart. Fleeting romantic highs meet crushing personal losses while existential questions of love and living are raised, as this third instalment delivers an evolution of the series that remains tethered to previous seasons while breaking new ground.
THE ESSAY COLLECTION: We Can Do Better Than This edited by Amelia Abraham
We talk about achieving 'LGBTQ+ equality', but around the world, LGBTQ+ people are still suffering discrimination and extreme violence. How do we solve this urgent problem, allowing queer people everywhere the opportunity to thrive? In We Can Do Better Than This, 35 voices explore this question. Through deeply moving stories and provocative new arguments on safety and visibility, dating and gender, care and community, they map new global frontiers in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Drag queen Pabllo Vittar pleads for the end of hate murders, musician and actor Olly Alexander champions inclusive sex education in schools, and Gossip’s Beth Ditto calls for a revolution in representation. Elsewhere, rapper Mykki Blanco sets out a vision to end HIV stigma, journalist Owen Jones demands improved LGBTQ+ mental health services, and performance artist Travis Alabanza imagines a world without gender policing. Essential reading.
THE MEMOIR: Easier Ways To Say I Love You by Lucy Fry
This is one woman’s remarkable and candid account of transforming a difficult and uncomfortable love triangle into an honest polyamorous relationship. Lucy Fry’s story opens with the impassioned affair she embarked on during her wife’s pregnancy. It is a relationship that appears to be unstoppable – perhaps even addictive – despite the guilt. With intense and unflinching honesty, she takes us on a compelling journey from childhood trauma and addiction to sobriety, from infidelity to ethical non-monogamy, and perhaps most intensely of all, from her fear of parenthood to her joy at having a son – which changes the dynamic once again as they fumble through early parenthood.