Queer Graphic Memoirs – LGBTQ+ Autobiographical Non-fiction Comics

During my undergraduate degree, I read my first queer graphic memoir for a women’s lit class: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. The comic format of such an introspective and personal narrative intrigued me, the visual rendering of her memories and reflections emboldened by such a medium.

It wasn’t until years later that I began seeking out more queer graphic memoirs, comics that recounted lived experiences of individuals a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Comics’ unique capabilities of storytelling and representing complex unspoken emotions allows creators and readers alike to connect in a highly accessible fashion. It is empowering to see yourself represented in a visual medium.

This blog post contains a list of graphic memoirs by queer and LGBTQ+ creators. These are true comics that present a narrative of the author’s life. Some of these center their queer identities more prominently, while others focus on different important aspects in their life. This list will be updated as I discover more queer graphic memoirs, and if you have any recommendations, I will happily add them.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Published 2006
Author pronouns: [Unspecified; referred to as she/her in bio]

What it’s about:

  • Revisits her childhood, specifically her relationship with her deceased father, who was an English teacher and funeral home director
  • Very introspective and literary
  • Colored and shaded in teals, grays, and blacks

What I thought:

  • Admittedly it’s been many years since I read this, but it is a seminal work indeed oft-referenced and even boasting its own Broadway musical inspired by it

Also by Bechdel:

  • Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama, which explores her relationship with her mother
  • The Secret to Superhuman Strength, which explores her lifelong fascination with fitness
  • and more

How to be Ace by Rebecca Burgess

How to be Ace by Rebecca Burgess

Published 2020
Author pronouns: [Unspecified]

What it’s about:

  • Explores the author’s younger years, especially when their peers became enthralled by sex and dating while Rebecca remained disinterested in romance but preoccupied with comics
  • Recounts the author’s struggle to find employment and begin “adulthood” as a comics artist during a recession, while struggling to understand their OCD and seek therapy
  • Contains colorful drawings
  • Includes intermittent informational inserts on the spectrum of asexuality

What I thought:

  • Loved it!

The Times I Knew I Was Gay by Eleanor Crewes

The Times I Knew I Was Gay by Eleanor Crewes

Published 2020
Author pronouns: she/they

What it’s about:

  • Previously a zine, this memoir recounts the many times throughout the author’s adult life that she came out to her friends, questioning her desires and continuously self-denying by forcing herself to date men
  • Examines the early years of her life and the overlooked “signs” of her sexuality
  • Lacks the formal structure of comic panels; contains free black-and-white drawings

What I thought:

  • The pacing is a bit odd and the narrative voice could have delved a bit deeper
  • Author’s character appearance was frequently changing and challenging to discern from other characters
  • Decent and a quick read

I’m a Wild Seed by Sharon Lee De La Cruz

I'm a Wild Seed by Sharon Lee De La Cruz

Published 2021
Author pronouns: she/they

What it’s about:

  • Contemplates the author’s relationship with her race and queer identity
  • Reflects on how the author experienced anti-Black attitudes from her Latinx mother while wondering if she is “Black enough”
  • Short length with colorful illustrations
  • Geared towards a more young adult audience

What I thought:

  • Obsessed with the art style!
  • Very brief but strong intersectional memoir
Messy Roots by Laura Gao

Messy Roots by Laura Gao

Published 2022
Author pronouns: she/her/they/them

What it’s about:

  • Born in Wuhan, the author discusses their first few years growing up in China before moving with their family to Texas
  • Recounts their growth from feeling disdain about their Chinese heritage to feeling pride and joy
  • Touches on how anti-Asian attitudes became prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic

What I thought:

  • The pacing is often rushed or jumps around a lot
  • While it touches on a lot of themes, they are not all explored in great depth
  • The personality of the author really shines through
  • The art is lovable and I found it endearing as a whole

Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges

Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges

Published 2013
Author pronouns: [Unspecified; referred to as she/her in bio]

What it’s about:

  • Narrates her adulthood in Portland with dating and being in a band
  • Reflects on childhood experiences and investigates the truth about her supposedly dead father, which becomes the focus of the story as she uncovers family secrets
  • Struggles to come out to her mother as an adult
  • Black-and-white illustrations

What I thought:

  • I liked the heavy contrast of the blacks and whites in the art
  • The ending is very sad indeed
  • Altogether the narrative feels unstructured and all-over; it does not seem like the author mapped out the narrative prior to writing it
  • Quite interesting

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Published 2019
Author pronouns: e/eir/em

What it’s about:

  • Reflects on Maia’s complicated relationship with gender throughout eir life and how e arrived at e/eir/em pronouns
  • Moves through eir childhood and adult years being forced to pay attention to eir gender and how society views em
  • References to other texts, such as Bechdel’s Fun Home and Patricia Churchland’s Touching a Nerve: The Self As Brain
  • Features colorful illustrations

What I thought:

  • The narration and self-analysis are really strong and well-done
  • The ending is a bit abrupt, but otherwise a nearly perfectly crafted memoir

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata

Published 2017
Author pronouns: [Unspecified; referred to as she/her in bio]

What it’s about:

  • Begins with Kabi hiring a female escort and then backtracking to how she wound up in this situation
  • She is 28 and has never had a sexual encounter or romantic partner
  • Describes her struggles with depression and living up to her parents’ expectations
  • Examines her inability to communicate adequately with others her age
  • Manga-style drawings with pink-hued shading

What I thought:

  • Very introspective and self-aware
  • Self-deprecating and whimsical

Follow-up manga memoirs in this series:

  • My Solo Exchange Diary Vol 1
  • My Solo Exchange Diary Vol 2
  • My Alcoholic Escape from Reality

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Published 2015
Author pronouns: [Unspecified; referred to as she/her in bio]

What it’s about:

  • Framed around a Christian summer camp that Maggie attended every year
  • During this particular year, she develops a crush on one of the older female counselors
  • Deals with hiding her sexuality from other girls in camp
  • Colored illustrations, a pencil-drawn style

What I thought:

  • Lacking in introspection and retrospective self-analysis
  • Long-ish and relatable story with little pay-off
  • A relatable memoir though

Follow-up graphic memoir in this series:

  • Lost Soul, Be at Peace

Kimiko Does Cancer by Kimiko Tobimatsu, illustrated by Keet Geniza

Kimiko Does Cancer by Kimiko Tobimatsu, illustrated by Keet Geniza

Published 2020
Author pronouns: [Unspecified; referred to as she/her in bio]
Illustrator pronouns: they/she

What it’s about:

  • At age 25, Kimiko is diagnosed with cancer
  • Recounts her experiences during and after cancer treatment
  • Explores how her relationships with her girlfriend, friends, family, and herself were affected by treatment, such as her induced menopause and long-term side effects of treatment
  • Questions if she can consider herself a part of the disabled community because of her continuing side effects even though her cancer is in remission
  • Brief in length with black-and-white illustrations

What I thought:

  • Incredible narration and insight
  • Amazing illustrations
  • Brilliant

Spellbound by Bishakh Kumar Som

Spellbound by Bishakh Kumar Som

Published 2020
Author pronouns: [Unspecified; referred to as she/her in bio]

What it’s about:

  • Bishakh begins by breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the reader, explaining that in the process of creating this memoir she used an alter ego which helped her realize her gender identity
  • The memoir is ultimately a diary-style chronicle of quitting her job as an architect and trying to make it as an artist
  • Explores the death of her Bangladesh parents
  • Focuses on loneliness, food, friendships, and self-motivation
  • Contains colored illustrations

What I thought:

  • The font is a bit stylized and hard to read at first
  • The sections of reflections/past events are the strongest parts; the day-to-day bits are a little tedious
  • I appreciate the usage of the alter ego stand-in

Thanks for reading!

For more book lists from Slanted Spines, visit this page.

For fiction book reviews, visit here.

For non-fiction book reviews, visit here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s