LGBTQIA+ Book Covers: Intimate, Inspiring & Influential
By Beccy Fish and Juliette Tulloch
Happy Pride Month! What better way to celebrate covers in June than by assessing the books representing LGBTQIA+ characters and/or written by LGBTQIA+ authors. The publishing industry still has a long way to go before we fully represent this community, but let’s take a look at the beautiful books leading the way, from those hot off the press to the ones that are already loved classics.
George Matthew Johnson's memoir All Boys Aren't Blue contains a collection of essays which explore his experience growing up as a queer boy in America. He reveals the intimate yet powerful themes themes of gender, identity, toxic masculinity, race, and queerness. This beautiful cover communicates these themes strongly with its use of colour. The blue reflects the colour typically associated with masculinity but slowly merges with the stereotypical feminine colour pink, showing the transition of identities that do not have to conform to these social norms. The painted imagery of Johnson demonstrates the personal memoir style of the narrative, with the flowers in his vibrant crown representing his more feminine side.
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters follows the story of Reese, Ames and Katrina who find themselves in an unlikely parental situation. Katrina is pregnant with Ames’s baby, who previously detransitioned from being Amy, and who is also Reese’s partner. The story highlights parenthood, with both cis-gender and trans characters, amongst the themes of femininity and love. This cover, again with the use of pink, emphasises the ideas of womanhood in the story. Peters, who is also a transwoman, has her name boldly displayed at the bottom in equal size to the title to highlight the talent and need for trans representation in publishing.
Rasheed Newson’s novel My Government Means to Kill Me, written in the style of a memoir, is set to be released on the 23 August. This debut will follow the coming-of-age story of Earl ‘Trey’ in 1980s New York, with the backdrop of the AIDS crisis while exploring what it means to be black and queer in this age. Fast-paced, politically charged yet full of humour, the cover depicts the dark and powerful side of this snapshot of New York as Trey joins the activists ACT UP. The colours of the pride flag against the dark background isolate Trey into a small window, illustrating how isolated and forgotten queer people are made to feel in this era and still today. The playful pink lettering, however, hints at the joy and love also found within being young and a part of this community.
After Douglas Stuart’s debut novel Shuggie Bain, his second title Young Mungo was recently released and carries over some of the strong themes of his Booker Prize winner, exploring masculinity, homophobia, family and love. Mungo and James must keep their romance hidden in the homophobic and hyper-masculine environment of Glasgow they long to escape. This cover explicitly reveals that this is a gay love story with a powerful image that other publishers may typically avoid. The blues in the characters' shirts represent this bold masculinity the men are pressured to embody, juxtaposing the two male characters kissing, which is stereotypically seen as unmasculine in our heteronormative society. The use of the photograph instead of abstract art, which is incredibly popular in fiction, shows the realism of the story, along with the use of the flash, which suggests full exposure and a close lens into the details of Mungo and James’s love.
Body Grammar by Jules Ohmnan will be released on the 14 June this year, adding to the growing appreciation for LGBTQIA+ authors and their stories. Lou has just turned eighteen when we follow her on her journey into the modelling world, where she begins to think about identity in terms of artistry and individuality. The fragmented cover alludes to the torn state of mind that Lou begins to experience in terms of love and her career goals. Furthermore, the soft colour palette and sensual images depict an intimate story that will focus heavily on body image and zoom in closely on Lou’s road to self-discovery.
A Million Quiet Revolutions is a vibrant and fantastical story that spans the ages, from book cover to storyline. Robin Gow’s novel was released in March this year, which follows the lives of Aaron and Oliver, two trans men that navigate the life of a small town and big milestones. The story of two revolutionary soldiers inspires them to adopt their names, seek solace in these unheard stories and reclaim the power that was forgotten all those years ago. The whimsical and bold cover design accurately portrays the love between these two men and the confidence that fills them with joy and self-worth. The butterflies and swirls that encapsulate the main characters illustrate the lyrical and heart-wrenching themes of this adventure.