WLW Booklist: 6 Novels Where Women Can Be Both Christian and Queer – Selected by Kathleen Jowitt.

There’s no denying that too many LGBT+ folk have suffered physically, mentally, or spiritually, at the hands of Christians. But it’s equally true – and far less frequently acknowledged – that there are thousands of LGBT+ folk who are themselves Christian, and who have found freedom and empowerment in claiming and affirming the whole breadth of who they are.

This intersection of identities isn’t terribly well represented in fiction, and there tend to be more novels featuring gay Christian men than queer Christian women (that’s why I wrote my own!), but more and more have been appearing in recent years. Here’s a selection.

Some of these books are old favourites (Dare, Truth or Promise was the one book with queer characters that I could find in my school library in the bad old days of Section 28). Some I read for the first time just the other week.

There’s an eclectic mix of genres in here, including young adult, historic fantasy, and romance.

The leading characters include priests, students, a minister’s daughter, a former opera singer, and an heiress.

But what all of them have in common is that they find a way to reconcile their faith with their sexual identity.

1. Speak Its Name by Kathleen Jowitt

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A new year at the University of Stancester, and Lydia Hawkins is trying to balance the demands of her studies with her responsibilities as an officer for the Christian Fellowship. Her mission: to make sure all the Christians in her hall stay on the straight and narrow, and to convert the remaining residents if possible. To pass her second year. And to ensure a certain secret stays very secret indeed.

When she encounters the eccentric, ecumenical student household at 27 Alma Road, Lydia is forced to expand her assumptions about who’s a Christian to include radical Quaker activist Becky, bells-and-smells bus-spotter Peter, and out (bisexual) and proud (Methodist) Colette. As the year unfolds, Lydia discovers that there are more ways to be Christian – and more ways to be herself – than she had ever imagined.

Then a disgruntled member of the Catholic Society starts asking whether the Christian Fellowship is really as Christian as it claims to be, and Lydia finds herself at the centre of a row that will reach far beyond the campus. Speak Its Name explores what happens when faith, love and politics mix and explode.

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2. Dare Truth or Promise by Paula Boock

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When Louie and Willa first meet, they don’t know their lives will soon be changed forever. Self-assured Louie is gearing up for another successful year in high school, starring in a production of Twelfth Night and running the Comedy Club.

Kicked out of her last school and still stinging from a past relationship, Willa wants only to get through her final year at school quietly so she can graduate and become a chef. More than anything, she wants to be left alone.

But each girl unexpectedly finds that plans mean nothing when it comes to love. Louie discovers that everything she was sure of-acceptance, faith, and identity-are not what they had seemed. And Willa finds herself suddenly willing to take another chance.

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3. This Is My Body by Elena Graf

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From the author of bestseller, High October, a new addition to the Hobbs Series.

The new rector of St. Margaret’s by the Sea Episcopal Church has a secret. Lucille Bartlett was a rising star at the Metropolitan Opera, but she disappeared from the stage and no one knows why. Philosophy Professor Erika Bultmann is a confirmed agnostic, who doesn’t have much use for religion, but she is fascinated by Mother Lucy.

When Erika returns to her summer cottage in Hobbs to finish her last book before she retires, Lucy is drawn to the enigmatic professor, but she wants much more than a casual affair. Erika has been in open relationships; Lucy wants a commitment. Lucy believes marriage is sacred; Erika thinks it’s a vestige of the patriarchy.

When Lucy’s secret is revealed, she needs Erika’s support more than ever. Can they put their differences aside and find common ground?

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4. Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

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Margerit Sovitre did not expect to inherit Baron Saveze’s fortunes—even less his bodyguard, a ruthlessly efficient swordswoman known only as Barbara. Wealth suddenly makes Margerit a highly eligible heiress and buys her the enmity of the new Baron. He had expected to inherit all, and now eyes her fortune with open envy.

Barbara proudly served as the old Baron’s duelist but she had expected his death to make her a free woman. Bitterness turns to determination when she finds herself the only force that stands between Margerit and the new Baron’s greed.

At first, Margerit protests the need for Barbara’s services, but soon she cannot imagine sending Barbara away. And Barbara’s duty has become something far more hazardous to her heart than the point of a sword. But greater dangers loom than one man’s hatred—the Prince of Alpennia is ill. Deadly intrigue surrounds the succession and the rituals of divine power known as The Mysteries of the Saints.

Heather Rose Jones debuts with a sweeping story rich in intrigue and the clash of loyalties and love.

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5. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

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Joanna meets the perfect girl for her and must decide whether to break a promise that could change everything for her and her family or lose out on love in this charming young adult romance that’s perfect for fans of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ and Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad.

Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

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6. Bobbi and Soul by J.B. Marsden

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Bobbi Webster wants nothing more than to be the best family practice doctor for her home town in rural Oregon. To accomplish that, she’s enrolled in a two-year fellowship in rural medicine at Valley View Medical Center in Colorado. Sparks fly when Bobbi meets the Reverend Erin O’Rouke, a petite, feisty priest who meddles in the treatment of Bobbi’s patients. To make matters worse, Bobbi wants nothing to do with any religion, much less the woman she dubs, The Elf.

Erin serves as vicar at a small church where a few parishioners have stipulated that she must be celibate, reflecting their “love the sinner, hate the sin” tactic. After she clashes with Erin, Bobbi recognizes how a recent breakup of an abusive relationship has falsely colored her perception of Erin’s world and work. Likewise, when Erin understands how Bobbi’s emotional wounds make her vulnerable, her natural empathy moves her closer to Bobbi.

They find themselves drawn to each other, but how can Bobbi and Erin overcome so many obstacles to find love?

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We hope you enjoyed this book list! If you did here are some other great lists we think you’ll love!

About Kathleen Jowitt

Kathleen Jowitt writes contemporary literary fiction exploring themes of identity, redemption, integrity, and politics.

Her work has been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize and the Selfies Award, and her debut novel, Speak Its Name, was the first ever self-published book to receive a Betty Trask Award.

To read more from Kathleen Jowitt, you can find her on TwitterOpens in a new tab., InstagramOpens in a new tab., FacebookOpens in a new tab. or read her website kathleenjowitt.comOpens in a new tab.


Lucy is Marketing Assistant to Niamh Murphy. You can contact Lucy via the 'Contact' page if you have any questions about Niamh's books, website and newsletters.

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3 years ago

Thank you for sharing my list, Niamh!

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