Show Your Pride With 7 Manga That Center Queer Stories

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Manga has come a long way in the last few years when it comes to LGBTQ+ characters and themes. Books like My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and My Brother’s Husband have made a big critical splash, but they are happily only the tip of the iceberg—manga featuring LGBTQ+ characters, many drawn by LGBTQ+ creators, are more plentiful than ever before.

Celebrate Pride this month (and every month) with these seven manga that center queer stories.

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, by Nagata Kabi
In this critically acclaimed autobiographical comic, author Nagata Kabi candidly explores her struggles with sexuality, mental health, and personal relationships. At 28, Kabi finds herself running in place, unable to hold a job, make meaningful connections with people her own age, or get out from under crippling depression. Things get a bit dark, but the unflinching honesty with which Kabi bares the crappiest parts of her life to the reader is lightened by an informal, cartoony art style and a dry sense of humor. Far from bleak, this manga is surprisingly funny, authentic, and #relatable, reminding us that sometimes the greatest obstacle to happiness is letting yourself believe you deserve it. Read the next chapter of Kabi’s story in the sequel, My Solo Exchange Diary.

My Brother’s Husband, by Gengoroh Tagame
With an Eisner Award under its belt, not to mention industry awards in its native Japan and in France, My Brother’s Husband has become something of a critical darling, and with good reason. Tagame’s manga follows Yaichi, a work-from-home dad living in Tokyo with his young daughter, Kana. Yaichi hardly thinks about his estranged twin Ryoji, who moved abroad years ago and passed away without returning to Japan. But when a burly Canadian man named Mike Flanagan shows up on Yaichi’s doorstep claiming to be his late brother’s husband, Yaichi is finally forced to confront who his brother really was. A sensitive exploration of family grief as well as a revealing look at the state of gay culture and acceptance in Japan across multiple generations, My Brother’s Husband is a heart-wrenching but important read—get the tissues out for this one.

Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare, by Yuhki Kamatani
High schooler Tasuku Kaname has a secret he’s desperately hiding from his family and classmates: he’s gay. When he fears he may have been outed at school, he comes close to ending it all—until he runs into a mysterious woman who introduces him to a group of people just like him. Mangaka Kamatani, who identifies as nonbinary and asexual, draws on their own firsthand experience of grappling with identity and marginalization in this powerful coming of age drama. Featuring gorgeous, detailed art and a diverse cast of LGBTQ+ characters, Our Dreams at Dusk is a title worth discovering as soon as possible.

Sweet Blue Flowers, by Takako Shimura
Fumi moves back to her hometown dragging a broken heart behind her. Her first love, a woman, has gotten married and crushed Fumi’s romantic daydreams. Luckily her old best friend Akira is there for her, and soon Fumi has a new crush: a beautiful third year at their all-girls school. Takako Shimura is known for telling stories with LGBTQ+ themes, including her critically acclaimed (and out of print) manga about transgender adolescents, Wandering Son. Shimura’s signature soft lines capture the intertwined romantic and social lives of queer young women in this yuri drama.

The Bride Was a Boy, by Chii
Another diary-style comic, this heartwarming manga tells the autobiographical story of Chii, a transgender woman. Starting with her childhood, Chii writes candidly of her experiences being raised as a boy, exploring her gender and sexuality, as well as how she met and fell in love with her unflappable and endearingly goofy husband. Chii’s bubbly, cheerful style makes this a charming and light read, but she doesn’t shy away from more serious topics surrounding her physical transition, taking time to educate the reader on LGBTQ+ topics and symbols.

Go For It, Nakamura!, by Syundei
Many manga with LGBTQ+ characters deal with tough topics, and rightfully so, but it’s nice to read a story with queer characters that isn’t so darn heavy. Go For It, Nakamura! has your back there: a one-volume, fluffy comedy featuring a socially disastrous gay boy. High schooler Nakamura knows he’s gay and knows he’s crushing hard on his classmate Hirose. What he doesn’t know is how actually let Hirose know he, uh… exists. A totally sweet, funny, and unserious BL manga about a kid who’s confident in his sexuality and basically nothing else. Bonus: Syundei’s retro-inspired art style will give you flashbacks to your ’90s crush on that character from Ranma ½.

Claudine, by Riyoko Ikeda
In this long overdue translation of a 1978 manga by Riyoko Ikeda, the legendary creator of The Rose of Versailles presents one of the earliest transgender protagonists in shojo manga. Set in a romanticized early 20th century France, Claudine takes readers on a whirlwind journey through the life and loves of Claudine, a charismatic young aristocrat who is repeatedly rejected by women who cannot truly see him as the man he knows he is. Ikeda weaves a tale of identity, high drama, and ultimately (because it’s the late 70s here), tragedy. A fascinating piece of manga history from one of the first voices to explore gender identity in popularly published manga.

What queer manga are on your shelves?

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