Regardless of whether you consider yourself a member of the LGBT community, your child does, you see yourself an ally, or would like to be an ally and haven't quite figured out how to be that yet, the world of literature is flush with incredible LGBT authors you should read to be a more enlightened parent. From graphic novels to young adult fiction to memoirs and everything in between, there are many authors to help you in your quest of enlightenment.
Books can change lives. They have the power to enlighten not only your children, but you as well. And in order for you to teach your children about diversity and inclusivity, your shelf needs to be equally diverse and inclusive. As a parent in today's day and age, being an ally is more important than ever. Parenting can be tough. But the more you educate yourself about how to be an ally, the better equipped you'll be to teach your children to be allies. Diversifying your bookshelf with authors who have firsthand experience as members of the LGBT community will foster a more inclusive environment in your home, and create a better sense of understanding in you and your children. So take a cue and scoop up a few of the following authors below, to keep your bookshelf (and your brain) well balanced.
Though she may be best known for creating the Bechdel test, Bechdel is also an incredibly talented writer. Her first memoir, Fun Home, has been adapted into a musical, and continues to stun Broadway. Tying together illustration and words while illuminating Bechdel's early life with a closeted homosexual father, parents can learn a slew of lessons from Bechdel, who weaves her tale beautifully.
David Levithan was one of the first authors to introduce gay characters into mainstream young adult fiction, and shows no signs of stopping. His debut novel, Boy Meets Boy, paved the way for the young adult authors to stray from the heteronormative path. Levithan has co-written other books with gay protagonists such as Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green, and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List with Rachel Cohn. But labeling Levithan as a gay author who only writes gay characters would be completely unfair and untrue. He's also the author of plenty of books with a wide array of protagonists, including the book turned movie, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.
Beloved children's author Maurice Sendak died in 2012, but his legacy lives on. Sendak was very private about his sexuality, and only mentioned it briefly in a 2008 New York Times interview. Regardless of how loud he was about his sexuality, Sendak provided readers with books that were beautifully human, above all else. Where the Wild Things Are and In The Night Kitchen both feature young boys falling into the world of dreams, exploring different sides of themselves. An incredible artist, Sendak's originality and emotional honesty provide platforms for children and parents alike to learn and grow together.
Although most of Winterson's earlier works are that of fiction, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal is a memoir about her journey to find happiness — a feat not so easy for a young woman who came out when she was 16, with a religious zealot for a mother. A staunch feminist and an incredible writer, Winterson is a must read for any parent searching for the true meaning of belonging.
After beginning her transition her freshman year of high school, Janet Mock left her Hawaii home behind to pursue a career in journalism. And she succeeded, in a big way. Mock was featured in Marie Claire in 2011 in a piece where she discussed coming out as a trans woman. She became a contributing editor for the magazine, and went on to document her life's experiences in her New York Times bestseller, Redefining Realness. Courageous, beautiful, and vulnerable, Mock has a way of pushing you toward acceptance of everyone around you in a way that you'll be forever thankful for.
6Rita Mae Brown
In the '60s, Rita Mae Brown was an active member of the American Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movement, the feminist movement, and the Gay Liberation movement. Through all of that, she still found time to write groundbreaking books such as Rubyfruit Jungle. Brown is a tour de force whose works of writing will change your life.
Sara Benincasa is hilarious, witty, and a phenomenal writer. From her real life accounts in Agorafabulous to Great, her contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby with LGBT characters, Benincasa wows readers with her ability to morph into different genres and entertain in each. As a staunch ally and a woman who has dated other women, Benincasa is a perfect addition to include on your shelves — or start following on Twitter. You won't regret it, trust me.
8Emily M. Danforth
Much like the protagonist of her debut novel The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M. Danforth was raised in rural Montana and stayed closeted until she reached her college years at Hofstra University. Danforth weaves the tale of Cameron Post, a young woman grappling with coming out to her family, and the negative consequences of bigotry and close-minded people. A stunning and heartbreaking work of literature for anyone who has ever struggled with becoming who they really are.
Growing up in the Bible Belt of Texas, Michelle Theall didn't quite fit in. In Teaching the Cat to Sit, Theall recounts how she was bullied by classmates, abandoned by her best friend, and kicked out of Christian organizations all before she even held a girl's hand. At 43, she and her partner decide to have their son baptized — and the real battle begins. Between the author and her mother, the author and the church, and so much more. Theall reveals a truth that everyone can relate to, that in order to come into your own as a parent, you have to stop trying to please your own.