Publishers Take Pride in Their LGBTQIA+ Titles

Amid a climate of legislation dictating how gender, sexuality, and LGBTQIA+ topics are discussed in classrooms and a record number of challenges to books with LGBTQIA+ authors or characters, publishers are doubling down on their commitment to put out titles that represent their readers.


Amid a climate of legislation dictating how gender, sexuality, and LGBTQIA+ topics are discussed in classrooms and a record number of challenges to books with LGBTQIA+ authors or characters, publishers are doubling down on their commitment to put out titles that represent their readers.

“It’s definitely an interesting time, especially publishing the content that we are,” says Allison Pond, marketing director of Florida-based Mad Cave Studios, where the state legislature passed both “don’t say gay” and anti-“woke” bills this spring. “But it’s something that we all really feel passionate about, and we’re not going to sacrifice the messaging that we want to put across for anything.”

The American Library Association reported that in 2022, it saw a record 2,571 unique titles targeted for censorship—a 38 percent increase from 2021. Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LBTQIA+ or BIPOC communities.

Despite the onslaught of opposition these titles face, publishers remain undeterred and prouder than ever of their contributions to the LGBTQIA+ category. “It’s exactly why it’s so important that we’re still making these books,” says Hanna Lafferty, trade marketing manager for IDW Publishing. “We are not going away. Our whole community is not going away. So, it’s really important, as the younger generation grows up, to be able to see these stories. And it’s not just about embracing, it’s about celebrating when it comes to identity.”

The titles featured below exemplify the abundant variety of new LGBTQIA+ titles available for library collections.

IDW Publishing

Founded in 1999, San Diego–based IDW publishes comics and graphic novels. “We’ve always strived to showcase all aspects of different identities,” says Trade Marketing Manager Hanna Lafferty. “We are finding stories that are not only entertaining, but that folks can feel at their core, whether it is something that is affirming, something that offers a window into a new experience, but it can also be thrilling or heartbreaking.”

Cosmoknights (Book Two) by Hannah Templer, ISBN 9781603095112, coming out in June 2023, continues the popular YA “gays in space” trilogy that takes readers to an Earth-like world with some major misogynistic, dystopian, and sci-fi twists. “I started this series because this is the story I would like to have read when I was 12 to 15 years old,” creator Templer says, “where queer women and lesbians get to be the heroes of the story.”

In Book One (ISBN 9781603094542), jetpack–wearing Cosmoknights joust to win the hands of princesses in marriage. Feminism-curious protagonist Pan meets a married lesbian couple who compete as Cosmoknights with the mission to win the princesses and set them free. Pan joins forces with the couple in an attempt to save a princess friend.

Cosmoknights (Book Two) picks up with a motley crew aboard the lesbian Cosmoknights’ spaceship, including a mysterious hacktivist and a princess who didn’t want to be “freed.” Together, they’re traveling to another planet for a big jousting match, where they want to rally people to their cause and challenge the system. “If the first book was about beating the patriarchy at its own game, the second book is about, ‘what if the game is rigged?’ Is it possible to win a game that was not designed for you?” Templer says. “So, it’s a very on-the-nose critique of capitalism as well.”

Cooking With Monsters: A Beginner’s Guide to Culinary Combat by Jordan Alsaqa, illustrations by Vivian Truong, September 2023, ISBN 9781684059836, is a YA title that takes place in a society where characters go to culinary school to learn combat so they can eat monsters. The story centers on the queer romance of Hana, the main character. “Hana focuses on fitting in and trying to succeed and be the best,” Lafferty says. “But she comes to learn that what’s more important is being able to celebrate your achievements and to celebrate, too, how your culture can propel you forward and not hold you back.”

In the Adult/YA crossover title Transitions, October 2023, ISBN 9781603095181, author and illustrator Elodie Durand explores the true story of a family friend whose son came out to her as trans. “The mother has to come to terms not just with accepting the fact that her child is trans, but also with her own inherent prejudice and bias,” Lafferty says. “It’s a very emotional journey about how to balance that while also understanding implicitly that no matter what, she loves her child and wants to be there for them.”

From IDW’s backlist is Be Gay, Do Comics by The Nib, September 2020, ISBN 9781684057771, an Adult/YA crossover anthology of both fiction and nonfiction by a consortium of LGBTQ+ authors. “It is a range of experiences, not only from different identities within the queer community, but also from different parts of the world,” Lafferty says.

Yen Press

Yen Press is one of the leading publishers of Japanese manga in the U.S., and Sales and Marketing Director Mark de Vera says manga and anime have been trailblazers in publishing LGBTQ+ stories. He adds that, in addition to publishing LGBTQ+-themed stories, Yen Press also publishes fun stories with characters who just happen to be gay. “It doesn’t have to all be about trauma and resilience,” he says. “Sometimes it is just a fun story, a cute romance, or an awesome fantasy—and that’s something manga has been doing for quite some time.”

Adapted into a TV drama that streamed on Netflix, SOTUS, Vol. 1 by BitterSweet, art by Kei, February 2023, ISBN 9781975350796, is based on a Thai “Boys Love” novel. At an engineering academy with a tradition of upperclassmen hazing lowerclassmen, a freshman stands up to one of the upperclassmen. Initially, there’s friction between them before a friendship and mutual understanding develops, which eventually turns into more. “It’s a really nice work of ‘Boys Love’ that’s performed well both as a drama and as a manga,” de Vera says.

The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady, Vol. 1 by Piero Karasu, art by Yuri Kisaragi, April 2022, ISBN 9781975337803, originated as a Japanese light novel before manga and anime adaptations. In this story, a character dies and is reborn into a fantasy world as a princess with a magic deficiency, who is something of an outcast. She uses what little magical power she has to invent amazing appliances in the fantasy world that are commonplace in the real one. When another girl is publicly shamed, the princess befriends her, and romance develops between them. “This is an example of a story that’s at heart a fantasy, but some of the characters happen to be gay,” de Vera says.

Getty Publications

A division of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty publishes primarily in the fields of art history, architecture, conservation, and cultural heritage, with a focus on its own collections and archival holdings. But, says Associate Publisher Maureen Winter, “Getty is always looking to bring new histories and narratives to light, by seeking out books by and about individuals and communities that have historically been underrepresented or marginalized owing to biases around race, gender, or sexual expression.”

Liberated: The Radical Art and Life of Claude Cahun, September 2023, ISBN 9781947440074, is a graphic biography for YA readers about the underrecognized French Jewish surrealist photographer, whose work the Getty Museum holds. Born Lucy Schwob, Cahun was a pre-nonbinary figure, adopting the name Claude for its gender neutrality in French, says Senior Editor Ruth Lane.

The book charts Cahun’s history of growing up in provincial France, meeting the love of their life, illustrator Suzanne Malherbe (later known as Marcel Moore) in their teens, moving in 1920s Paris surrealist circles, and fighting fascism. In the 1930s, Cahun and Moore moved to the Isle of Jersey and continued to collaborate on art and anti-Nazi activism. Author and illustrator Kaz Rowe, who identifies as a nonbinary, lesbian, and Jewish member of the LGBTQIA+ community, adapted much of the text from Cahun’s own writing, including memoirs, letters, and poetry.

“Cahun’s story feels so incredibly relevant today, with all of the anti-trans and anti-Semitic [sentiment] on the rise,” Lane says. “And fascism has not gotten less relevant at all. To be an artist under those conditions and to be so engaged politically, putting themselves at risk—it’s really an inspiring story.” The 96-page book includes 91 color illustrations and 11 black-and-white photographs by Cahun and Moore.

The 264-page exhibition catalog Arthur Tress: Rambles, Dreams, and Shadows, edited by James A. Ganz, with contributions by Mazie M. Harris and Paul Martineau, November 2023, ISBN 9781606068618, accompanies an exhibition running at the Getty from October 31, 2023, through February 18, 2024. It will be the first critical look at the early stages of American photographer Arthur Tress’s (1940–) career.

A gay man who didn’t come out until later in life, Tress began as a documentary photographer, making photographs of people in Appalachia, inner cities, and, in the 1970s, of gay men in The Rambles, a section of Central Park where they used to meet. Tress’s style later progressed toward surrealism and staged photography. The book documents this progression in 20 four-color and 170 black-and-white illustrations of Tress’s work.

Sounds True Kids

In 2015, Boulder-based wellness publisher Sounds True put out the picture book Goodnight Yoga—which has since sold 250,000 copies—and discovered there was a market for mind/body titles for kids. In 2016, they launched Sounds True Kids, which publishes about eight picture books for children ages 4 to 8 each year.

Children’s Acquisitions Editor Jennifer Adams says Sounds True Kids is working to pair their adult luminaries with children’s authors for collaborations. For example, with Giraffe and Jackal Are Friends (Again!), November 2023, ISBN 9781649630650, authors Mary Mackenzie and Lisa Robinson and illustrator Nicole Michels have turned psychologist Marshall Rosenberg’s four steps of nonviolent communication into a children’s story, creating characters out of the giraffe and jacket puppets Rosenberg used to teach his process to children.

“The giraffe is peaceful and loving, and the jackal is a little more aggressive and uptight,” Adams says. Their clashing personalities cause repeated misunderstandings, but they learn how to communicate, cope, and resolve them. The book also includes back matter on how readers can use Rosenberg’s techniques for conflict resolution.

In Sylvie and the Wolf by Andrea Debbink, illustrations by Mercè López, May 2023, ISBN 9781683648697, Sylvie encounters a wolf in the mountains and is terrified. But she keeps her fear a secret, until her anxiety is so overwhelming that she’s afraid to leave the house. Her aunt helps her work through her feelings, and when Sylvie sees the wolf again, she discovers it’s actually her long-lost dog, turned feral. Sylvie and her dog have to learn how to overcome their fear and live with each other again. “[The story] symbolizes owning your anxiety and embracing it with love,” Adams says. “And it’s not always easy or good, but it’s not a bad thing. It’s just part of you.”

Mad Cave Studios

All three of Miami-based Mad Cave Studios’ graphic novel imprints publish LGBTQIA+ content. But Marketing Director Allison Pond says their YA imprint, Maverick, which launched in fall 2021, is where Pride really gets to shine. “Since its inception, Maverick has been a space for those who think differently, are not afraid to be independent and fight for who they really are, and offer authentic stories,” Pond says.

For example, YA title Paper Planes, June 2023, ISBN 9781952303548, is by two nonbinary creators—Eisner Award–winning author Jennie Wood and artist Dozerdraws—who brought their own experiences to the story. Dylan, a white nonbinary teen, and Leighton, a biracial asexual girl, have long been inseparable, often communicating via paper-airplane notes. At a summer camp for troubled youths, their friendship is tested, forcing them to reexamine who they want to be in the world and to each other. “The novel really focuses on forgiveness and friendship and self-discovery,” Pond says.

Confetti Realms by Nadia Shammas, art by Karnessa, October 2023, ISBN 9781952303333, is a spooky YA graphic novel. A group of teens exploring a graveyard on Halloween night make a wish on a tombstone and end up transported to a parallel universe called Confetti Realms. On their adventure, the characters work through various issues related to gender identity, queer relationships, family, and mental health.

“These stories are authentic, because they’re coming from people who went through this when they were coming of age,” Pond says. “And being able to give this story to people who are coming of age now is kind of paving the way for them to have a better life and feel more understood.”

The Harry Potteresque School for Extraterrestrial Girls, Vol. 2: Girls in Flight by Jeremy Whitley, art by Jamie Noguchi, November 2023, ISBN 9781545806951, is a middle grade graphic novel from Mad Cave’s Papercutz imprint. Tara, the main character, has a crush on her school friend Misako. But Misako comes from a different universe and an alien race that has a troubled history with Tara’s universe.

“They’re going on crazy adventures and learning insightful lessons,” Pond says. “They learn that each alien race has different specialties, each person shines individually, and how to put their differences aside.” Pond notes that Volume 2 can be read as part of the series or as a stand-alone title.

Running Press Kids

Running Press Kids, an imprint of Hachette’s Philadelphia-based Running Press Group, prioritizes inclusivity in all its titles, from its board books to its YA titles. The imprint currently puts out five to seven titles a year with LGBTQIA+ themes or queer-identifying characters, but “we are not looking to identify any sort of problem or to solve anything through our pride-celebratory books,” says Editorial Director Julie Matysik. “We want them to be very joyful and inclusive.”

ABC-Deconstructing Gender by Ashley Molesso and Chess Needham, May 2023, ISBN 9780762481408, questions gender boundaries with each letter of the alphabet. This 32-page picture book for ages 3–6 “is about breaking gender norms and gender stereotypes about how a child might be expected to feel or to behave,” Matysik says.

For each letter of the alphabet, the book turns a traditionally gender-ascribed attribute on its head. For example, the “beautiful” child illustrating the letter B is a boy, Mohammed, not a gender-normative girl as might be expected. Likewise, the book goes on to show that words like courageous, energetic, gentle, strong, and vulnerable can describe children of any gender identity.

A Child’s Introduction to Pride by Sarah Prager, illustrations by Caitlin O'Dwyer, ISBN 9780762481910, also out in May, is from Running Press Kids’ sister imprint Black Dog & Leventhal. It’s the 16th book in the middle grade “A Child’s Introduction” nonfiction series. “We realized there wasn't a whole lot of information out there for this age group about Pride,” says Senior Editor Lisa Tenaglia.

“We really wanted to do an in-depth, age-appropriate look at the long history of contributions that people in the LGBTQIA community have made to the world, starting with ancient cultures up until today,” Tenaglia continues. The book focuses on the community’s positive impact and pride from ancient Greeks and Hindu mythology to the Harlem Renaissance and Harvey Milk. The book also defines terms like gender identitysexualitypronouns, and coming out.



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