Pride Month Summer Reading List

Brandon Goins

Pride Month is almost over and it’s going to be a while before Pride celebrations officially come to North Carolina. But we won’t leave you empty-handed going into the rest of the summer. We’re wrapping up Pride Month with a summer reading list. In honor of the summer reading program and Pride Month I’ve scoured UNC Press for a few LGBTQ book recommendations.

UNC Press is great because many of their books focus on topics relevant to the south. The books I’ve selected discuss queer life, religion, and politics from southern points of view. I’ve included the synopsis of each book and links to where you can purchase them.

For more information on the summer reading programs at libraries across the state check out the Collaborative Summer Library Program.

Check out the books and their synopses below!


Black. Queer. Southern. Women.

E. Patrick Johnson

Drawn from the life narratives of more than seventy African American queer women who were born, raised, and continue to reside in the American South, this book powerfully reveals the way these women experience and express racial, sexual, gender, and class identities--all linked by a place where such identities have generally placed them on the margins of society. Using methods of oral history and performance ethnography, E. Patrick Johnson's work vividly enriches the historical record of racialized sexual minorities in the South and brings to light the realities of the region's thriving black lesbian communities.


Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table book cover

Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table

James Hudnut-Beumler

In this fresh and fascinating chronicle of Christianity in the contemporary South, historian and minister James Hudnut-Beumler draws on extensive interviews and his own personal journeys throughout the region over the past decade to present a comprehensive portrait of the South’s long-dominant religion. Hudnut-Beumler traveled to both rural and urban communities, listening to the faithful talk about their lives and beliefs. What he heard pushes hard against prevailing notions of southern Christianity as an evangelical Protestant monolith so predominant as to be unremarkable.


Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South

E. Patrick Johnson

Giving voice to a population too rarely acknowledged, Sweet Tea collects more than sixty life stories from black gay men who were born, raised, and continue to live in the South. E. Patrick Johnson challenges stereotypes of the South as "backward" or "repressive" and offers a window into the ways black gay men negotiate their identities, build community, maintain friendship networks, and find sexual and life partners--often in spaces and activities that appear to be anti-gay. Ultimately, Sweet Tea validates the lives of these black gay men and reinforces the role of storytelling in both African American and southern cultures.


The Bitterweed Path Book Cover

The Bitterweed Path

Thomas Hal Phillips

This long out-of-print and newly rediscovered novel tells the story of two boys growing up in the cotton country of Mississippi a generation after the Civil War. Originally published in 1950, the novel's unique contribution lies in its subtle engagement of homosexuality and cross-class love. In The Bitterweed Path, Thomas Hal Phillips vividly recreates rural Mississippi at the turn of the century. Part of a very small body of gay literature of the period, The Bitterweed Path does not sensationalize homosexual love but instead portrays sexuality as a continuum of human behavior. The result is a book that challenges many assumptions about gay representation in the first half of the twentieth century.


The Lesbian South

Jaime Harker

In this book, Jaime Harker uncovers a largely forgotten literary renaissance in southern letters. Anchored by a constellation of southern women, the Women in Print movement grew from the queer union of women’s liberation, civil rights activism, gay liberation, and print culture. Broadly influential from the 1970s through the 1990s, the Women in Print movement created a network of writers, publishers, bookstores, and readers that fostered a remarkable array of literature.


North Carolina and the Problem of AIDS book cover

North Carolina and the Problem of AIDS

Stephen J. Inrig

Drawing on epidemiological, archival, and oral history sources, Inrig probes the social determinants of health that put poor, rural, and minority communities at greater risk of HIV infection in the American South. He also examines the difficulties that health workers and AIDS organizations faced in reaching those communities, especially in the early years of the epidemic. His analysis provides an important counterweight to most accounts of the early history of the disease, which focus on urban areas and the spread of AIDS in the gay community.


Check out more LGBTQ+ focused books at UNC Press!