OK, so the title’s a little clunky, and the books themselves mostly aren’t Under the Gaydar (*indicates cishet allosexual MC), but bear with me. While LGB are pretty frequently found in YAs these days in both primary and secondary roles (YAY!), other IDs under the rainbow umbrella…not so much. You’ll see plenty about those characters here when they get starring roles in books, but for those seeking some more representation in significant roles, here’s where you can find some:
Lunaside by J.L. Douglas – on-page asexual secondary (MC is a lesbian)
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman – BFF is on-page demisexual in m/m relationship (MC is bi)
Honestly Ben* by Bill Konigsberg – asexuality, pansexuality, and gender fluidity are all represented in secondary characters (Note: while book is m/m, MC does not ID as queer; you can see my personal thoughts on that execution here. Tl;dr: they are positive.)
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.
Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.
Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.
But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.
Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.
But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.
Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.
Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.
The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…
A new state, a new city, a new high school. Mike’s father has already found a new evangelical church for the family to attend, even if Mike and his plainspoken little sister, Toby, don’t want to go. Dad wants Mike to ditch art for sports, to toughen up, but there’s something uneasy behind his demands.
Then Mike meets Sean, the new kid, and “hey” becomes games of basketball, partnering on a French project, hanging out after school. A night at the beach. The fierce colors of sunrise. But Mike’s father is always watching. And so is Victor from school, cell phone in hand.
Kindra’s moral compass has never pointed north, but that’s what happens when you’re raised as an assassin and a thief. At sixteen, she’s fantastic with a blade, an expert at slipping through the world unnoticed, and trapped in a life she didn’t chose. But nothing in her training prepares her for what happens when her father misses a target.
In the week-long aftermath, Kindra breaks rank for the first time in her life. She steals documents, starts questioning who their client is and why the target needs to die, botches a second hit on her father’s target, and is nearly killed. And that’s before she’s kidnapped by a green-eyed stranger connected to a part of her childhood she’d almost forgotten.
Kindra has to decide who to trust and which side of the battle to fight for. She has to do it fast and she has to be right, because the wrong choice will kill her just when she’s finally found something worth living for.
Grey Jean-Marcelin wants to die. He thought painting his passion—vivid portrayals of Haitian life and vodou faith—would be enough to anchor him to this world. But it isn’t. And when the mysterious man known only as Saint saves Grey from a suicide attempt, it’s more curse than blessing—until Grey discovers that Saint isn’t just an EMT. He’s a banished fae, and can only survive by draining the lives of those he loves.
All Saint needed was a simple bargain: one life willingly given for another. But as Saint’s feelings for Grey grow deeper, centuries of guilt leave him desperate to save a man who doesn’t want salvation, even if Grey’s life means Saint’s death.
When Grey’s depression consumes him, only he can decide if living is worth the struggle. Yet his choice may come too late to save his life . . . or Saint’s soul. And whatever choice he makes, it may shatter them both.
For those of you who feel like you’ve already read every LGBTQIAP+ book in existence, not to worry – there’s plenty still to come! Every TBRainbow Alert will have a mix of five LGBTQIAP+ titles to make sure are on your radar, along with three reasons why you should know them. If you missed the first alert, you can check out those titles here. And now, a few more coming up in 2016!
Title:Fast Connection(July 11) Authors: Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell Genre/Category: Contemporary Romance Rainbow details: m/m, both bi Why put it on your radar?
1. This is the follow-up to Strong Signal, which was so hot my brain combusts just thinking about it.
2. Bi rep! In m/m!
3. Megan Erickson. Santino Hassell. Writing together. I mean, hi.
Title:Of Fire and Stars (November 22) Author: Audrey Coulthurst Genre/Category: YA Fantasy Rainbow details: f/f – one lesbian, one bi Why put it on your radar? 1. f/f Fantasy is one of the rarest things in YA, and if you’ve been desperately waiting for the answer to “What do I read after Ash?” Ta da! 2. Horses! If you are a horse person (as I know the author is), this book is seriously gonna be your jam.
3. Cute, hot, sexy…Coulthurst gets in all of it between Mare and Denna, and the thought of teen girls finally getting a romance this sweet between princess made me hug this book when I was done.
Title: A Darkly Beating Heart (October 4) Author: Lindsay Smith Genre/Category: YA Time-Travel Fantasy Rainbow details: bi female MC Why put it on your radar?
1. The code phrase for this book before it had an official title was “Angry Bisexual Japanese Revenge Fantasy.” If that’s not the best “Describe your book in 5 words” you’ve ever heard…
2. This is Smith’s first novel with a queer main character, but you may already know/love her from “City of Angels,” her contribution to A Tyranny of Petticoats, which featured a Native lesbian MC.
3. It’s so. Freaking. Good. Dark and brutal and raw and honest and compelling and page-turning and awesomely infused with Japanese culture/food/setting.
Title:Girl Mans Up (September 6) Author: M-E Girard Genre/Category: Contemporary YA Rainbow details: butch lesbian MC Why put it on your radar? 1. I honestly didn’t register how unheard this POV was in YA until I read the book, and I suspect it’ll be one lots will be grateful to finally see. 2. Gamer girls! Both the MC and LI! 3. I think this may also be the first Portuguese MC I’ve read in YA, and the book is heavily infused with culture and language.
Title: Not Your Sidekick(September 6) Author: C.B. Lee Genre/Category: YA Sci-Fi Rainbow details: bi female MC Why put it on your radar?
1. The main character is an intern. To a super villain. Like. Come on.
2. Queer girl of color by queer author of color! Queer girl of color by queer author of color!
3. I’ll just direct you back to that premise. I cannot imagine what else is needed here.