Feature image by Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images
I am prone to reminisce about the many hours I spent in the local library of my youth, where it took the entire span of my teenage years to sniff out precisely three books with queer characters. Contrast that with the library where I sit right now that has dedicated stacks for LGBTQ+ books, each title adorned with a little rainbow sticker for extra gay assurance. Queer lit blogs abound these days, chronicling releases across an expanding array of genres. Every season, Casey’s book previews have more and more titles. There is, quite simply, too much gay to keep track of.
The joy of the Information Age is that it only takes a few steps of wading through a data swamp before someone gets the urge to collect, catalogue and cross-reference the shit out of it. Enter, the queer book database!
What exactly do I mean by database? Well, I want it to be something that can be queried or filtered; it’s not just a long book list, and searching isn’t limited merely to title or author but allows you to interrogate every intersection of queer interest. Too many times, I’ll have gone through thirty reviews on a mainstream site when finally someone mentions a book has lesbian pirates in it. I want this vital information front and centre when it comes to making my reading decisions (spoiler: none of the databases below include “pirate” as a queryable field, so someone should really get on that).
Considering that Goodreads and Storygraph are themselves giant databases of pretty much every book published, they obscure a lot of control over search terms in favour of recommendation algorithms or seeing what your friends are reading. This is fine! I’m open to every avenue of queer book discovery, and the list of databases below just compliments that, allowing you a little more control over the direction you want to take. Most importantly, because these databases were created by queer people for queer people, there’s an understanding about what kind of stuff matters to us. And, hopefully, no straight books ever!
And while not filterable in the same way as a database, don’t forget to browse the Autostraddle Literature section for your LGBTQ+ book needs!
The Queer SFF database lets you search across a plethora of sub-genres within sci-fi and fantasy, with filters for intersecting identities and a whole heap of miscellaneous tags. Do you want a space opera in a homophobia-free world where your WLW protagonists are over 40 and guaranteed alive and together at the end? This database will find that book! Individual book entries link to longer takes by trusted queer reviewers.
This comprehensive database of comics and graphic novels has filters not only for queer rep, but for art style, tone, and genre. You can also search for free online comics — with direct links! Reviews tend to be from mainstream publications like Kirkus rather than queer bloggers, but there’s plenty of info about each title to help you find out if it will be your thing.
This filterable list focuses on YA and middle grade books about trans and nonbinary people, written by trans and nonbinary people! A labour of love from author Ray Stoeve after realising how hard it was to find this information, this happily growing list also includes upcoming titles to note in your calendar.
Last year, this long-running queer parenting blog added a huge database of LGBTQ family books and other media. There are a few defined categories for reading ages and book type, but it’s really the breadth of tags that will help queer parents find books on any topic, from adoption to drag to gay uncles!
This character-focused database is a great resource for digging out books for less well-represented queer identities. By assigning characters an “importance” tag, quantifying the level of rep, and filtering across a range of aro-ace identities, it’s easy to work out whether a book is doing their protagonists justice or there’s just a token side character.
This is my very favourite kind of internet thing: a long-running list of stuff that someone just wants to share with the world! Compiled by one particularly voracious sci-fi reader, this regularly updated book list has tags according to the queerness and prominence of characters, with a telling one-liner about what the reader really thought about it! I like that a lot of older titles are included, and it’s possible to search on when a title was added, meaning it’s easy to return every so often and see what’s new on the list.
This one is all about the data! Essentially, it’s a giant Google Sheet of every queer book going back to Carmilla (I’m guessing Sappho never got an ISBN) with 50-150 added every month. Although a little trickier to search and navigate than the other sites on this list, the huge benefit of this database is that all the data is freely available (and encouraged) to download and share!
There’s info on the queerness of main characters, with some notes about identities, side characters and other tags. If you’re a spreadsheet demon, I have no doubt you could do wicked things with this humungous data set!
Attempting to catalogue the 500+ YA books with queer content published between 2000-2020 is no mean feat, but this site has done it! Although no longer actively updated, this is a great resource for sifting through two decades of YA lit, handily filtered according to characters’ gender, orientation, location, ethnicity and more.
Special mention: LGBTQ Reads
The most comprehensive blog out there in terms of the number of books featured, LGBTQ Reads doesn’t quite meet my definition of a book database because it’s not possible to query across genres, identities and other queer specifics. However, the way it groups the books in each category does make it easy to home in on certain sub-categories that are certain to pique your interest.
The little-advertised best perk of being an A+ member.