Your Ultimate End-of-Pride Soundtrack and Reading Guide
Words By F(r)iction Staff
It’s impossible not to gush about Red, White & Royal Blue. I made the mistake of finishing it while on a train and almost burst into tears, but not because it’s inherently sad—the book is so bright and warm and oftentimes hilarious. I closed the book, sat back, and wished desperately that the slight alternate reality in which the book takes place—where a woman was elected president in 2016—was real. This is one of the best pieces of escapist fiction I have ever read. The characters are so vibrant and alive, and watching them fall in love while figuring out what part they want to play in their world made my little queer heart so happy. While the book does tackle serious topics, author Casey McQuiston does this with astounding finesse, and in the end, you’re left with the resounding, deep-seated belief that yes, love does and will win.
Every June since I was seventeen, I’ve returned to the same album. I don’t even realize that it’s dominating my speakers until halfway through the month, and then I’m like, “Oh, it’s that time of year again.” Hedwig and the Angry Inch will always be my happy place. And yeah, Neil Patrick Harris is phenomenal (when isn’t he?), but the movie soundtrack…John Cameron Mitchell just gets me.
If you’re looking for a punk rock musical to get you through Pride Month, let Hedwig be your hero. She’s a trans rock star with dubious morals who wreaks havoc on a groundbreaking national tour of late-night American diners. Hedwig’s story reminds me of the complexity of queer lives. Everyone wants to argue about what makes good representation, but for me, good representation means a character who is a little messed up, who makes mistakes and maybe doesn’t learn from them, but who more than anything else is real. And Hedwig is a little too real, a little too raw. Give her a chance! Whether you listen to the soundtrack or watch the film, you’ll—at the very least—be entertained.
Do you dream of a LGBTQ+ version of MTV? Do you want a queer music radio station to blast as you dance your way to the end of Pride Month? Homoground is for you, dancing queen! It’s a music podcast showcasing LGBTQ+ artists. Since it first aired in 2011, it’s become a lighthouse for bands, events, and organizations looking to increase the visibility of LGBTQ+ musicians. Homoground maintains a Patreon to help keep the podcast running.
While it’s still a work-in-progress, I was recently spurred by a new update and a bout of nostalgia to reread Check, Please. Since it takes place at a college, you really feel like you’re growing up with these characters, and watching the protagonist, Eric Bittle, mature from a scared young freshman into a protective senior makes me dread the end of this comic much like I approached my own graduation with a twinge of anxiety and uncertainty. I know next-to-nothing about hockey, but the queer representation, ridiculous nicknames, seriousness for pie and jam, and the loyalty all these characters have for each other makes me fall in love with this story again and again.
An LGBTQ+ book that has sadly flown under the radar is The Raging Ones, by Krista and Becca Ritchie. This, their first foray in YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy, is filled with superb world-building, complex characters, and a high-stakes competition. The Ritchie twins built a frozen world, divided into caste systems based on how long you will live.
The story is divided into three parts, each narrated by a different character—Franny, an impulsive and hard-edged young woman; Court Icecastle, a mysterious, well-educated thief; and Mykal Kickfall, who is literally the cutest, most innocent human being. They’re linked by the fact that they all survive their death day, and so share a psychological bond.
You know what’s even better? Two men and one woman does not equal a love triangle in this story! Instead, the M/M romance in this book is truly a delight, with a deep, unbreakable bond that goes far beyond what is found in a typical romance. The dynamic and friendship between all three is truly a marvel to watch grow, and one that you’re sure to feel and love.
The second and final book of this duology, The Last Hope, comes out in August, so it’s the perfect time to pick up this first book in the series.