LGBT+ Literary Journal Roundup
“Exceptional art is a bruise: it leaves its mark on you. At its best it leaves us vulnerable and raw, transformed by the experience. At Anathema we're interested in giving that exceptional work a home. Specifically the exceptional work of queer people of colour (POC)/Indigenous/Aboriginal creators. As practicing editors we're keenly aware of the structural and institutional racism that makes it hard for the work of marginalized writers to find a home.
So Anathema: Spec from the Margins is a free, online tri-annual magazine publishing speculative fiction (SF/F/H, the weird, slipstream, surrealism, fabulism, and more) by queer people of colour on every range of the LGBTQIA spectrum.”
The speculative fiction in this magazine is so astounding that it will leave you thinking about the vivid story lines and possible futures proposed in each story days after you finish each issue!
“Sinister Wisdom is a multicultural lesbian literary & art journal that publishes four issues each year. Publishing since 1976, Sinister Wisdom works to create a multicultural, multi-class lesbian space. Sinister Wisdom seeks to open, consider and advance the exploration of lesbian community issues. Sinister Wisdom recognizes the power of language to reflect our diverse experiences and to enhance our ability to develop critical judgment as lesbians evaluating our community and our world.”
I remember walking into my local feminist bookstore years ago and picking up my first issue of Sinister Wisdom. My eyes were glued to the page- it was the first time that I ever saw a literary journal that was dedicated to lesbians. It was love at first sight.
“Homology Lit is a Pacific Northwest-based online literary magazine for people of color, queer folks, and people with disabilities, founded by Savannah Slone in July 2018. We nominate the work we publish for Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, Best of the Net, Bettering American Poetry, and more.”
I’ve read some of the best writing that I’ve ever read, poetry in particular, in this literary magazine!
Rose Quartz Magazine-
“rose quartz mag was founded in 2018 & was rebranded in 2019. we're a volunteer run literary/ arts magazine for queer women (or womxn) that focuses on love, sex, tenderness, femininity, womanhood, healing, queerness, magic & all that pertains to it.
our mission is to uplift the voices of queer women / womxn & allow them to have a space to be safe. rose quartz wants to continue embodying what rose quartz as a stone/crystal represents. we will always support intersectionality & believe feminism without it isn't real feminism.”
Rose Quartz Magazine has always stood out to me as a magazine that serves as a safe space for queer women and has such talent within their regular contributors.
A new magazine for QTIPOC youth-
“We believe that authentic storytelling will create a more just and equitable world. We wish to empower LGBTQIA+ youth of color through the endless possibilities of creativity. We believe that providing a safe space will equip youth with the skills to write their own narratives without boundaries. We promise to support new and exciting approaches to writing and inspire engagement. And to inspire and cultivate new generations of global creatives in communities divided by discrimination.
We envision a world where the publishing industry honors the potential, the complexity, and the fullness of the world itself. We wish to provide a space for aspiring LGBTQIA+ writers of color; a place where they can work on their craft, take control of their own narratives and are valued for their talents as writers rather than feeling they have to exploit themselves by only writing about their marginalized identities in a marketable way. Within the publishing world, 79% is white and 88% identify as heterosexual. The publishing world is not reflective of our world.
Offering members of the LGBTQIA+ community a platform and literary community within which to tell stories that are about more than just their identities will help them build a writing practice and audience such that they are themselves empowered to take that practice, and that supportive audience, proudly into mainstream media venues they value and would like to effect change in.”
This journal is a safe space for those lgbt+ writers of color looking to showcase their writing or experiment with it. It’s one of the few journals that I know that takes Young Adult and Middle Grade stories, and it’s such a plus that they are dedicated to uplifting writers of color within the lgbt+ community!
Name and None-
A new magazine by trans/non-binary/non-cis creators, made to celebrate and support the trans/non-binary community.
“In August 2018, Riley and Kaitlin came up with the idea to start a publication for trans/nonbinary/genderfluid/two-spirit creators, feeling that there weren't enough spaces for folks like us in the literary/art/comics world. In just a month, N/a/N's social media presence had reached hundreds of creators and garnered more submissions than we ever anticipated. Now, we're preparing to launch our next issue and looking forward to an even bigger future for Name and None.”
This magazine is my favorite as far as visuals go- if you’re looking to support trans artists and want to check out an amazing magazine that will leave you wanting to share it with everyone you know- Buy. This. Magazine.
“A magazine made by non-binary people, for non-binary people.”
“We started three years ago with a single mission: expanding media created by us and for us, with “us” being the non-binary community. We published our first issue in December of 2016. You can read it for free here.
Originally, we wanted to promote only Canadian content, since our magazine was founded in Toronto, ON, Canads. So, Issue #1 features work by cross-country Canadian artists, makers, journalists, and so on. However, upon our launch, much of our audience were folks from the U.S., hungry for better non-binary representation made by us, for us.
So, we are now proudly NORTH AMERICA’s non-binary magazine. It’s a tall order we’re happy to fill. We accept submissions from around the world, and ship everywhere, too.
We have a Patreon where you can support us with every issue we create.
Our publication will always prioritize the voices of those marginalized within intersections of our community: non-binary folx of colour, with disabilitiy(ies), neuroatypical folx, spoonies, those who have experience trauma, those whose cultural expressions of gender had been eradicated/ significantly impacted by colonialism, those who live in remote geographic areas, and so on.”
The Fruit Tree-
“The Fruit Tree is an independent literary journal created by and for LGBT+ people from across the world. We release new issues quarterly.
The Fruit Tree is a space for queer people and the art that they create. So far, this has included everything from visual art to creative writing and LGBT+ resources.”
“Butter is an amalgam of bodies and the wor(l)ds that come from them. Give us all your fleshy parts. We aim to provide an inclusive space for queer, transgender, and non-binary individuals.”
More to come! 🌈
LGBT+ Short Story Roundup
Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time by K.M. Szpara
Set in a world where vampires are totally normal- a trans gay guy goes out partying one night and ends up getting attacked and bitten by a vampire. He comes to terms with being changed from human to vampire surprisingly easily…until he realizes that the species transition is starting to reverse his gender transition. This story is such an amazing read by a trans writer. It’s on the long side and instead of leaving me wondering when it was going to end, I found myself entirely immersed in the story and feeling almost empty when it ended, just as I feel when I’m done reading an amazing novel.
Published in Uncanny
Do You Love Her? by Lexington Wilks
“Jesus, I might actually be in love with her”
This story is the cutest of short YA love stories about two teen girls who might seem like complete opposites at first- but are obviously head over heels in love with each other. Definitely read this one if you love sweet girl/girl love stories!
Published in inQluded
Raices (Roots) by Joe Ponce
This is a MUST READ if you are a lover of speculative fiction. This story is a lengthy short story about a hypothetical U.S. where Mexican/Mexican Americans begin to fall ill to an epidemic which causes them to slowly morph into trees. It explores xenophobia/racism in the U.S. and truly draws you in and it literally is one of the best short stories I’ve ever read! It reminds me of The Rag Doll Plagues by Alejandro Morales as it explores anti-Mexican racism in a speculative environment.
Published in Anathema
A Silhouette Against Armageddon by John Wiswell
A comical and romantic story of a lonely gay skeleton who realizes someone is digging up his coffin one night. But he’s not shy to let the reader know he won’t hesitate to fight anyone who tries to steal anything off his bony body. But he’s pleasantly surprised when he finds that it’s his love that’s finally found him in the afterlife.
Published in Fireside Magazine
Mother? By Cynthia So
Haunted by the regret that she was never able to come out to her recently deceased mother, a girl takes the opportunity to do so when a moth who just might be her mother reincarnated flies in to her bedroom one day. She soon realizes it’s not her when the moth comes out to her as well! Surprise! At least it’s a gay moth, if not her mother... right?
Published in Arsenika
Paradise by Nina LaCour
A prequel to an adult novel Nina has been developing, this is the story of Sara- a girl who has to escape her hometown (even though some might call it “paradise”) following the disappearance of her first love and continuous presence of drug addiction in her life.
Published in FORESHADOW
Once I, Rose by A. Merc Rustad
After eating a curse in the form of a batch of delicious brownies that was meant for a part-time spell maker’s ex, our narrator is transformed into a rose who must undergo many lives and deaths in this form, while trying not to lose hope that their partner will one day find them and break the curse. A. Merc is an amazing ace/non-binary writer!
Published in Daily Science Fiction
A Logical Explanation by Marisa Crane
This is a very queer story about a guy whose girlfriend is getting a little too close to him. So close in fact that she even seems to be shapeshifting into him. The closer they get the more her metamorphosis develops, and he can’t decide whether it’s a deal breaker for him. Does he want to date himself? This is a great short story for pansexual/queer representation by a lesbian writer!
Published in Coffin Bell
More to come! 🌈
A native of St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands himself, Kacen Callender transports readers to his homeland through the eyes of a lonely twelve-year-old girl who is facing heartache as she must deal with her beloved mother’s sudden abandonment and her pressing emotions as she questions her own identity in a culture that voices that if she embraces her desire to grow up and marry a woman, she will be damned to hell. This book is relatable to any child that must adjust to situations that are seemingly out of their hands and leave them feeling helpless in a world that has already built a solid wall of social norms that deter the purity of childhood development. And while this middle-grade is created for children, Kacen succeeds in appealing to adults who’ve questioned their sexual or gender identity as well.
Readers are introduced to Caroline as she faces trauma following the abandonment by her mother, an aloof father who doesn’t understand her, bullies at school, a new girl who sets her heart a flutter, and a seemingly wicked spirit who has shadowed her since she nearly drowned years prior. The great majority of the book is focused on Caroline’s internal struggle as she questions her self-worth as her mother has made it clear she no longer wants to be her parent and the girls at school berate and embarrass her, to which the nuns that run the Catholic school she attends never seem to notice. Or rather, they seem just as dedicated to making Caroline feel as though she is an outsider. The implication that Caroline’s bullying is brought on by racism and colorism is clear, as it is noted that Caroline is the darkest skinned child in a school that is run by majorly white educators. The fact that she is the only student who can’t seem to turn to her teachers for help is not a mere coincidence. This sets the tone for the rest of the novel as we now know our protagonist as the underdog who might never see her redemption.
The climax of the novel is reached as Caroline is outed due to a private note, in which she confesses having romantic feelings for her same-sex crush Kalinda, is read aloud to her peers by her biggest bully. Convinced, and rightly so, that her peers and teachers judge her for her natural feelings about girls, she allows her embarrassment, shame, and the growing fear of the spirit whom she calls “The Woman in Black,” to push her forward on a quest to find her mother. The only questions that linger are: will Kalinda come with her on her adventure and will her mother accept her when they find her?
The backbone of the novel lies within The Woman in Black and what she represents in regard to Caroline’s identity. In the beginning of the novel, Caroline reflects on a near-death experience in which she nearly drowned as a younger child, but survives with the caveat that the spirit who finds her gasping for air would continue to linger for the rest of her life.
Towards the middle of the novel, Caroline begins to understand that her intrigue with her new friend is more than feelings of friendship. The moment that she begins to realize that her innocent crush is proof of her attraction to a member of the same-sex is also the moment in which she attempts to deny her emotions and her identity. She goes on with her denial and continues the friendship with Kalinda, but she finds it hard to maintain a healthy mindset as her crush develops and The Woman in Black’s presence only becomes all the more present. But just before Caroline seems to start spiraling downward, she is relieved as she realizes a fact that makes her heart stop: Kalinda can see the spirit too.
She believes she has sole sight of the spirit until she notices Kalinda’s eyes lock on the undead in a passing moment that wouldn’t have caught anyone else’s eye but Caroline’s. This knowledge only intensifies Caroline’s crush, as she convinces herself that their love is meant to be based on their shared knowledge of a hidden spirit world that lies just outside of other’s sight. Not only is the idea of this spirit, who never speaks in the novel, important as a silent character herself, but it must be noted that the point of this character doesn’t lie within a need for representation of the paranormal, but rather serves as a representation of both of the girl’s identities, in which they can’t escape.
From The Woman in Black’s growing presence in Caroline’s life, we can assume that the spirit is to represent Caroline’s identity, specifically representing her attraction to other girls. The spirit lurks in the shadows, cupped into corners, watching Caroline as she only tries to move farther away from it. As the narrative is told through Caroline’s perspective, we can gather that the spirit’s presence doesn’t only frighten her- it makes her uncomfortable. It’s not socially acceptable for a spirit to attach itself to a member the living. To other St. Thomas natives it would even imply that there is something ungodly about the person to which the spirit has attached itself to. It’s no coincidence that this discomfort parallels with Caroline’s developing attraction to Kalinda.
Both experiences of discomfort are rooted in her culture’s history of religion, an aspect of her life that she also can’t escape. Caroline’s only comfort is the shared knowledge of the spirit world with Kalinda. As the story moves forward, we come to understand that Kalinda is also going through her own identity crisis after she reveals that she has been developing romantic feelings for Caroline as well, but has been denying them for the majority of the novel. Which explains why she can also see The Woman in Black. In the end of the novel Caroline is soothed by an adult in her life, who has unashamedly confessed to her earlier in the story that she had fallen in love with another woman in her own past. In the same breath she teaches Caroline that the spirits that we believe are haunting us are often misunderstood. Although they might seem like dark forces in our life due to religious upbringings that train us to believe them as so, the spirit is not a demon at all, but rather a guardian angel. Caroline accepts this truth and in turn, accepts her own identity as a girl who will one day marry another woman when she grows older.
Through one conversation with a woman who she can identify with, Caroline begins to see herself and the spirits in a new light. No longer does she have to believe what religion has taught her about same-sex attraction and the otherworldly beings that walk among us. She no longer fears The Woman in Black, or her own identity. Instead, she’s comforted by the thought that the aspects of her life that appear at first to be detriments to her identity are actually blessings in disguise.
“The black seeps into her, masking any sentiments, mangling any desire to forgive, hardening the weak pulp of a muscle beating inside her chest.” -Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
tw: sexual assault/homophobia
It’s not often that I come across a novel that is so raw and honest as Here Comes the Sun. The story follows four women in Montego Bay, Jamaica: Margot, a woman who has been sexually exploited by her mother as a result of homophobia and poverty, and has learned how to sell her sexuality to make ends meet, Delores (Margot’s mother) who runs a tourist shop and faces the trials of raising two daughters while facing poverty, Thandi (Margot’s younger sister, who struggles with colorism, which runs rampant in Jamaica, and Verdene (Margot’s lover), a woman who is regarded as a witch because she is openly gay. This book touches on heavy subjects such as sexual assault, colorism, fetishization, homophobia, and how tourism negatively affects the native community in Jamaica. Overall, this book truly reflects the harsh reality of life as a woman in Jamaica within its fictional pages.
Resident On My Bookshelf:
“Damn, I wished the world would let me be myself.’”
-Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
This book is the definition of a classic coming-of-age novel to me. As someone who loves a good coming of age narrative, the lesbian protagonist’s story was fiercely refreshing, as I find most coming of ages are mainly white, male, straight, and cis. The story follows our main character from her childhood all the way to adulthood as she realizes she’s a lesbian, confronts the realization of society’s deeply ingrained homophobia as she watches her friends desperately latch on to the comfort that being closeted brings them, and struggles with other societal norms that she finds constraining, such as monogamy. This novel is not only refreshing for its narrative, but absolutely hilarious in the writing style. I always find myself awkwardly smiling in public places when I’m reading Rita Mae Brown’s work.
Resident On My Bookshelf:
“We're all bastards. That's why we need our friends.’”
-Another Country by James Baldwin
tw: for sexual assault in this book
This was the first book I ever read by James Baldwin and consequently the book that solidified him as my favorite writer. The craft that he put into his writing is simply extraordinary. This novel focuses on race relations in the United States between white and black Americans in the 1960s, (a time period in which the book was written). Baldwin does an amazing job of showing just how important race is in America by showing us the intimate moments between interracial couples and two men who navigate race relations and sexuality alike as they engage in relationships with both women and men, both white and black. I love the criticism of racism, the criticism of homophobia, and of course, the very romantic same-sex Parisian scene that the second part of the book opens with. Although the book was written in the 1960s, the arguments Baldwin brings to the table transcends time.
Resident On My Bookshelf:
“Crying with happiness, Nickel replied, ‘Everything is possible. Pass the word.’”
-Six of One by Rita Mae Brown
From the writer of “Rubyfruit Jungle” this novel follows a plethora of female characters over the course of time in their town of Runnymede, Maryland. Two of which are two sisters, Louise and Julia to whom each character, no matter past or present, are somehow connected to. My favorite character in the novel is Celeste Chalfonte, an eccentric and elegant southern lesbian who is something of a celebrity in her town. Her romance with her long-term partner, Ramelle is both sweet and intriguing, as Ramelle also falls for Celeste’s brother and carries on something of a polyamorous relationship between the two siblings. This novel flips from past to present every few chapters, which satisfied me as a reader by giving me the whole picture when it came to understanding the matriarchy of the town and the characters that make up the colorful story. When I read this one I literally couldn’t put it down. Rita Mae Brown does such an amazing job when it comes to creating hilarious female characters within a believable narrative.
“I’ve learned how to live with nightmares. I could cope with one more.” -Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
tw: for sexual assault in this book.
I would give this book 10/5 stars if I could! I literally could not hype it up enough! Set in a fantasy world inspired by a blend of multiple Asian cultures, the story of Lei, a seventeen year old girl who is sent against her will to be a concubine to the king (or a “papergirl”), is so engrossing that I literally could not put the book down! As Lei struggles against oppression, she also unexpectedly falls in love with one of the other paper girls and must find a way for their love to grow under the worst of circumstances.
Everything about this book is amazing, from the writing to the story line. The descriptions are executed so beautifully, you can’t help but picture each scene from start to finish. Lei is the definition of a hero, her every action and emotion convinces you to root for her. This book is filled to the brim with fantasy, culture, and character depth. My favorite sections of the book are the romantic ones (of course), and they definitely do not disappoint! As far as I’m concerned, Natasha Ngan is a literal literary genius.
A book rooted in the Deep South, The Summer We Got Free is about a Black, Southern family caught in a long-standing feud with the community’s church, which is conveniently located across the family’s home. This story follows Ava (a once daring artist), who lives with her husband, sister, and parents all in one cramped house, as she copes with her blossoming romantic feelings for a woman who shows up at her front door unexpectedly. And just to complicate her life a little more, the woman whom she begins to crush on also happens to be her husband’s sister…
I loved this book when I first read it, its roots in the Deep South and storyline focusing on the church’s role in the Black community really hooked me. I also love the fact that this book was published by the author’s own press, which is so impressive to me!
“Maybe the ending isn’t even really the point. Just as long as there was a happy somewhere along the way.” This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender
This was a super cute coming of age that follows the main character, Nathan, as his ex-best friend and forever crush moves back into town after he moves away when they were kids and never speaks to Nate again following an awkward encounter. Now after the passing of his father and a bad breakup, Nathan sees how the end of relationships can bring emotional turmoil. Now Nathan has to learn how to get over his fear of unhappy endings in order to pursue love.
What I loved about this book was that there isn’t really any talk about labels. Each character speaks about their crushes, either male/female/agender without any mention of their specific sexuality. And while I’m in favor of labels, because they give people a sense of belonging, even I have to admit- it was quite refreshing. What I didn’t like about this book was that the book lacked character depth, even after finishing the book I felt as though I didn’t know much about the characters, almost as if they were assigned one character flaw each and then the development of the character’s personalities was abandoned. But it’s still worth the read!