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5 Must-Read LGBTQ Graphic Novels

The medium is more than just fantasy and superheroes…
 
If you’re a comic book and graphic novel fan, you know there’s a lot more to the medium than superhero stories. With a good writer and the right artist, virtually any story can translate well into the visual narrative style of graphic novels. If you’re looking for a story that doesn’t just throw in a token gay best friend, but actually portrays what it’s like to grow up, date, work and just live as part of the LGBT community (closeted or not), there are plenty of graphic novels that will give you the plot complete with well-rounded characters and detailed artwork. Here’s just a few LGBT-friendly graphic novels you should definitely read.
 
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic – Alison Bechdel
This 2006 graphic memoir chronicles American cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s youth in Pennsylvania focusing on her relationship with her father who was a closeted gay man. Her father was tyrannical and obsessive but Bechdel identified with him in some ways especially since she herself is a lesbian. In addition to sexual orientation, the story touches on themes of gender roles, suicide, emotional abuse and living with a dysfunctional family. Bechdel took seven years to write and illustrate the memoir because her process involved photographing herself in various poses to use as a guide for the artwork. Fun Home won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book and an Eisner Award. There is also a musical and Broadway adaptation that have each won numerous awards.
 
Transposes – Dylan Edwards
What makes a man a man? That’s the question Transposes answers through a series of true stories featuring six different men who identify as both transgender and queer. The stories separate gender from sexuality and show what’s it’s like to navigate life as a female-to-male transgender individual. One story portrays the breakup of a lesbian couple who realizes they aren’t going to work out since one of them would much rather be a man. Transposes also explores what makes relationships complicated and how confusing labels can be. The subject matter fits perfectly with the graphic novel medium since appearance is such a huge part of what it means to be transgender.
 
Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag – A.K. Summers
Pregnancy and femininity will always be linked. That’s because physically, pregnancy is something only a woman can do. But imagine being a woman who wants to present as masculine but also wants to carry a baby to term. That is the dilemma facing Teek Thomasson, the main character in Pregnant Butch. Queer pregnancy is becoming increasingly common but for a butch lesbian like Teek, it’s definitely not easy. From the opinions of her femme girlfriend on what pregnancy should look like to the judgements of random strangers, Teek has to figure out a way to get through nine months without losing herself in the process.
 
Adrian and the Tree of Secrets – Hubert
Adrian is a teenaged boy who lives in a small town and does to Catholic school. He has a strict mother and his principal thinks Adrian might be “ill” because there are rumours that he is gay. Adrian isn’t the cool kid at school but he has a crush on one. Adrian and the Tree of Secrets portrays the struggle of being a closeted gay teenager in a conservative community falling in love for the first time. It reminds us that despite all the progress that has been made, LGBT youth still experience harassment and isolation because of their sexuality.
 
Queer: A Graphic History – Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele
If non-fiction is more your thing, Queer: A Graphic History is an interesting way to learn more about identity politics, gender roles, privilege and exclusion. It covers the history of how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways we do and how that fits into our culture as a whole as well as historic landmarks that changed our perspective of what’s normal. Alfred Kinsey’s view of sexuality as a spectrum and Judith Baker’s view of gender roles as a kind of performance as well as pop culture phenomenon that pushed the boundaries and presented different ways of seeing things are just a few of the topics covered.
 

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