Gay Without the Gay Angst: 12 Books About Gay/Bi/Queer Boys

By Malinda Lo

Last week when I visited a high school in Seattle, a student asked me for recommendations of YA books about gay boys who didn’t have to struggle with a lot of coming-out angst. While coming out can certainly be a struggle (mine was!), I completely understand and sympathize with those who want to read books about gay main characters where they can simply be the main characters without facing a ton of homophobia. For a gay reader especially, encountering a large amount of homophobia in a novel might feel realistic and it might make them feel less alone in the world, but it can also feel like an assault on your own identity.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of a dozen YA books in which the main character is a gay, bisexual, or queer boy, but the story is not necessarily about their sexual orientation. Six are fantasy/science fiction, and six are contemporary realistic fiction. If you’re looking for a complete lack of coming-out angst, it’s better to stick to the fantasy and science fiction; the realistic titles listed below do address coming out, though with much less angst than in some older titles.

Fantasy & Science Fiction

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  • The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan — Coming Nov. 11, 2014 in hardcover; features Magnus Bane from Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters series
  • Proxy and Guardian by Alex London — a science fiction/dystopian duology available now
  • Masks: Rise of Heroes by Hayden Thorne — a superhero trilogy available now
  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater — the second book in the Raven Cycle, available now
  • Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey — an urban fantasy trilogy available now
  • Coda by Emma Trevayne — available now; has a companion novel, Chorus

Realistic Fiction

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  • One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva — now available
  • Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg — now available
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan — now available; Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy is also a classic of the no-gay-angst type
  • M or F? by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbetts — now available
  • Boyfriends With Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez — now available; Sanchez’s Rainbow Boys trilogy begins with some coming-out issues, but subsequent books move past that aspect of being gay
  • Fan Art by Sarah Tregay — now available

Thanks to everyone on Twitter who helped me out with recommendations! I’ll post a similar list about lesbian, bisexual, and queer teen girls in the near future.