Red Hen Roundup: LGTBQ+ Reads

Red Hen Press
10 min readJun 1


By Lizzy Young

June is National Pride Month, so we wanted to celebrate by highlighting Red Hen titles from people in the LGTBQ+ community and titles with LGTBQ+ main characters. Keep reading to find a great read for this month!

Floppy: Tales of a Genetic Freak at the End of the World by Alyssa Graybeal

One of the first books to explore the emotional landscape of living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome from a patient’s perspective; a playful story of falling down, getting back up again, and realizing you should have gone to the hospital sooner.

When ten-year-old Alyssa is diagnosed with the rare genetic connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, she vows not to let it stop her. Unfortunately, her efforts to avoid being “too sensitive” lead her to neglect not only her health but other aspects of her life as well. Twenty years later, she’s finally forced to confront the reality of her condition head on. When she finds herself tangled in an unwieldy combination of chronic pain, a library job for which she is particularly ill-suited, and her wife’s mystifying health problems, her body starts to unravel in ways she can no longer ignore. If pushing through is not the answer, what does homecoming to her floppy body even look like?

Alyssa’s memoir came out May 30, so grab this hot new release here!

In the center of the blue cover is a circle with a flower inside. Outside the circle are petals. Above and below the circle are black silhouettes of a face. Across the circle is the title, “apocrifa.” Below is the text, “poems by Amber Flame.”

Apocrifa by Amber Flame

APOCRIFA is a nongendered love story told in verse, the journey of a lover and their beloved finding each other, falling apart, and then creating their own way to love together.

APOCRIFA imagines a love that sits comfortably at the crossroads of commitment and freedom. The developing intimacy between a lover and their beloved is propelled by a compendium of words for love, romance, sex, relationships, and affection that do not lend to direct translation in English. Serving as both titles and markers of the progression of time, these poetically defined words highlight the growing tension of one who claims “i cannot love you enough/to unlove the wide world” and yet is inextricably drawn to the offer of “a place of sustenance, rest, and my delight in your very bones.” Heavily inspired by the metaphors and structures of Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon), from the Apocryphal books of the Bible, the characters speak to each other with contrapuntal call-and-response while letting us into their private thoughts through epistles, sestinas, odes, and other poetic forms.

Apocrifa was released in May, so order this recently released love story now!

Blue text that reads in large block letters “Spring in Siberia: A Novel by Artem Mozgovoy” over an image of a young boy bundled in winter clothing with a large fur hat so only his eyes are seen, eyelashes coated in ice and snow

Spring in Siberia by Artem Mozgovoy

1985 Russia. As the Soviet Union disintegrates and Western capitalism spreads its grip across their land, the Morozov family finds itself consigned to the remote, icy wastes of Siberia. It is here that their only child, Alexey, is born.

A sweet and gentle schoolboy, Alexey discovers that reciting poetry learnt by heart calms his fears. That winter gales can be battled with self-invented games, and solace found through his grandmother’s rituals and potions. But when Alexey’s classmate, the son of KGB agents, confesses his love, the desire of two boys to be together clashes violently with the mad world around them.

Exploring the healing power of literature, the magic of first love, and the ways our family and homeland can save (or shatter) us, Spring in Siberia is a coming-of-age novel that, in the darkest of times, glows with hope and the yearning for freedom to be oneself — completely.

Order this recently published novel for a heartwarming story.

Flannelwood by Raymond Luczak

How could a wintry heart possess so much summer?

Spontaneous combustion occurs when Bill, a forty-year-old barista and a failed poet, meets James, a disabled factory worker and a daddy hunk, at an OctoBear Dance. For six months they share weekends of incredible passion at James’s house up north in the country. Winter has never seemed hotter in their flannel sheets. But on the first day of spring James abruptly informs Bill over the phone that it’s not going to work out and hangs up. No further explanation: just the static of silence. Feeling haunted like Djuna Barnes while she wrote her novel Nightwood in the 1930s, Bill searches for answers in his recollections of James and others who’d departed too early from his life. When he does discover why James left, the answer comes from a mysterious stranger with secrets of his own.

Order this gay love story here.

A green background with a graphic design of a lake in the middle of woods and two boys holding hands with light green scrip that reads The Falls of the Wyona a novel by David Brendan Hopes.

The Falls of the Wyona by David Brendan Hopes

The Falls of the Wyona by David Brendan Hopes confronts friends growing up in Appalachia just after WWII not only with the material threat of the wilderness, but with the uncharted darkness of their own maturing hearts.

In The Falls of the Wyona by David Brendan Hopes, four friends growing up on the banks of a wild Appalachian river just after WWII discover, almost at the same time, the dangerous, alluring Falls and the perils of their own maturing hearts. Seen through the eyes of his childhood friend Arden, football hero Vince falls in love with the new kid, Glen. They have no context for their feelings, and the next few years of high school become a tense, though sometimes funny, artifice of concealment. The winner of Red Hen’s Quill Prize, The Falls of the Wyona is the first of three achieved (and several more projected) novels by this author imbued with the magical atmosphere of Appalachian culture.

Grab your own copy of this coming-of-age novel now!

An intricate design of a red haired woman with an orange fish on her head and green leaves covering her body with red script that reads deciduous qween poems by Matty Layne Glasgow.

deciduous qween by Matty Layne Glasgow

Trees are queer magic; just look at those queens.

Through the creaking of bedazzled branches and the soft rustle of jeweled leaves, deciduous qween explores the queer world all around us — how we, like our environment, wear and shed different identities in our performance as human, as drag queen, as ancient tree. This collection reveals in the natural world those ephemeral moments which reflect our own truths and confront our fear of death, of loneliness, and of failure. With an air of Southern Gothic mysticism, the poet reflects on a childhood spent in Houston’s bayous, an adolescence rife with curiosity and shame, and a young adulthood marred by the loss of his mother. How do our bodies and minds find equilibrium as we learn to let go, yet long to remember? The title poem, “deciduous qween, I–V,” binds the collection in a five-part sequence, pondering those things that are lost in the seasons of our lives: teeth, antlers, body, shape, and leaf. And it’s those sharp edges of loss and the scars they leave behind that linger here, like bark stripped from a swaying willow, or a family bereft of its matriarch.

Glasgow’s poetry collection is available here.

A blue background and a woman with short hair and her arms crossed standing towards the left smiling and white script that reads SELF-ISH a transgender awakening by Chloe Schwenke.

SELF-ish: A Transgender Awakening by Chloe Schwenke

SELF-ish is a narrative drawn from an international life, beginning with some early glimpses out at the world by a girl in a boy’s body. Chloe Schwenke was raised as Stephen in a Marine Corps family, and was sent off at age fourteen to “man-up” at a military academy. Later — and still embodied as a man — she ventured abroad to work in some of the roughest regions of Africa, the Gaza Strip, Turkey, and many other locales. Her far-flung global journey was matched in intensity by an inner identity and spiritual struggle and the associated ravages of depression, before she came to the revelation of being a transgender woman. At a time when many Americans are just waking up to the reality of the transgender phenomenon, this portrayal of Chloe’s life, her challenging gender transition, and her many accomplishments and adventures along the way (including being among the first three transgender political appointees in U.S. history, under President Obama), creates a poignant story of authenticity, self-discovery, and the meaning of gender set against a fascinating international backdrop.

Order this brave memoir here!

An abstract design of circles, triangles and squares, one of the circles made up of a map and white script that reads Scissors Paper Stone a novel by Martha K. Davis.

Scissors, Paper, Stone by Martha K. Davis

What is family, and who gets to define it? In 1964, Catherine and Jonathan adopt an infant girl from Korea. This unconventional choice brings disapproval from Catherine’s family, which creates an even closer bond between her and her daughter. Narrated in alternating chapters by Catherine, her daughter Min, and Min’s best friend Laura, SCISSORS, PAPER, STONE spans twenty years of love, losses, and the complex realities of female relationships. By 1985, Catherine is living a risk-free life on her own accord, Laura is dating her way through college, and Min is a massage therapist who has come out as lesbian and is learning to embrace her Korean heritage. After Min and Laura take a summer road trip together, the shifts in their friendship force all three women to examine the assumptions they’ve been living by and to make choices about the roles they want to play in each other’s lives.

Grab a copy of this lesbian coming-of-age novel at this link.

Now, check out these LGBTQ+ books that are forthcoming from Red Hen Press this Summer and Fall!

A photograph of an apple tree with a picnic basket and apples on the ground with white text reading “From the Longing Orchard, a novel by Jessica Jopp”

From the Longing Orchard by Jessica Jopp

Eighteen-year-old Sonya Hudson has been gripped by phobia since she was thirteen. What would make navigating the world so difficult for this budding visual artist? When the story opens, she lives with her mother and her sister in a suburb in New York in the late 1970s. The narrative carries us back through her childhood, where she struggles with the family’s frequent moving and with her parents’ increasingly fraught marriage. Lingering at the periphery of her consciousness is the shadow of a damaged boy she knew when she was very young. Reverence for the natural world provides comfort, as does her fierce attachment to her sister and her parents’ poignant guidance. But it is the intimacy with another young woman that ultimately offers a path to healing. In language soaring with poetic incantation, From the Longing Orchard shows us the ways in which a young woman and those she loves all must contend with a longing of some kind and how they seek from each other, and sometimes find, the needed balm.

Jopp’s novel comes out this month! Preorder now!

Cover art is of an individual standing amidst many reaching arms. Superimposed over the cover art is black text that reads “Binded.”

Binded by H Warren

“I sew myself together / again and again” in urgent vulnerability, H Warren’s debut collection, Binded, discloses their reality of living nonbinary in the rural context of Alaska. With breasts bound by compression, these poems explore the space that binds the body into itself, stuck in unrelenting forces of binary politics and violence. Each poem is a stitching and restitching of the self — an examination of trans-survival. This is a courageous collection — an anthem of Queer resilience and a reminder of the healing powers of community care.

Preorder Warren’s debut collection now!

Black symbols, including those related to the trans communities, sit in a pagan-like ritualistic circle. Text reads “Sex Augury, Poems by C. Bain”

Sex Augury by C. Bain

Sex Augury is a collection of radical, trans poems which practice divination with the symbolism of our changed and changeable world.

Sex Augury is a collection that practices divination with the symbolism of our radically changed and changeable world. Exercising trans poetics, C. Bain denormalizes the violence embedded in the most intimate strata of American life. Confrontationally queer, urgently wounded, deeply political, and metaphysically transported, these poems create their own system of meaning in an environment that is increasingly hostile to meaning of any kind. This collection spans digital culture, gender reversals, and archetypal-mythic vocabularies, alongside close observation of the surround of “ordinary” urban existence. Sex Augury is a work of dyads, not binaries — concepts bound together which nonetheless refuse to form a coherent, harmonious whole; humor and despair, tenderness and brutality, desire and revulsion. These poems bristle with intelligence, acuity of feeling, and refusal to gloss the complexity of our moment into a false narrative of progress.

Don’t wait, preorder a copy of Bain’s poetry!

Cursebreakers by Madeleine Nakamura

Adrien Desfourneaux, professor of magic, must survive his own failing mental health and a tenuous partnership with a dangerous ally in order to save the city of Astrum from a spreading curse.

Adrien Desfourneaux, professor of magic and disgraced ex-physician, has discovered a conspiracy. Someone is inflicting magical comas on the inhabitants of the massive city of Astrum, and no one knows how or why. Caught between a faction of scheming magical academics and an explosive schism in the ranks of the Astrum’s power-hungry military, Adrien is swallowed by the growing chaos. Alongside Gennady, an unruly, damaged young soldier, and Malise, a brilliant healer and Adrien’s best friend, Adrien searches for a way to stop the spreading curse before the city implodes. He must survive his own bipolar disorder, his self-destructive tendencies, and his entanglement with the man who doesn’t love him back.

Preorder Nakamura’s magical novel now!

Thanks for kicking off Pride Month with us and our amazing authors!



Red Hen Press

Nonprofit independent literary publisher aiming to amplify unheard and underrepresented voices and improve literacy in schools.