The best books about growing up gay in Australia

Who am I?

As someone who grew up in Australia without any gay literary characters to relate to, I’m incredibly passionate about queer stories set in our beautiful country. We now have a wealth of brilliant books by LGBTQ+ authors, and I hope that by sharing my recommendations, our stories find even more of the readers they’re meant to find. I’ve focused on books featuring gay male protagonists, as that’s how I identify, and they’re the type of queer stories I relate to the most. Some of the books are fiction, others are memoir, some are written for teens and others are for adults, but all of them share an incredible level of authenticity.

I wrote...

Anything But Fine

By Tobias Madden,

Book cover of Anything But Fine

What is my book about?

Luca is ready to audition for the Australian Ballet School. All it takes to crush his dreams is one missed step... and a broken foot. Jordan is the gorgeous rowing star and school captain of Luca's new school. Everyone says he's straight - but Luca’s not so sure...

As their unlikely bond grows stronger, Luca starts to wonder: who is he without ballet? And is he setting himself up for another heartbreak?

The books I picked & why

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The Boy from the Mish

By Gary Lonesborough,

Book cover of The Boy from the Mish

Why this book?

This is a heartwarming contemporary story about a gay Aboriginal teen exploring his sexuality and falling in love for the first time, set against the vivid backdrop of a fictional, rural Indigenous community. It’s evocative and heady and compelling. It’s one of those stories that makes you want to reach into the book and hug all the characters and tell them everything is going to be okay. Such an important story from a brilliant new voice in Australian YA.

Invisible Boys

By Holden Sheppard,

Book cover of Invisible Boys

Why this book?

This book is gritty and raw and hard-hitting. It takes an honest (and at times, confronting) look at what it’s like to feel completely isolated because of your sexuality in rural Australia. The characters are vivid and relatable, and their plight is enthralling. The story deals with identity, belonging, toxic masculinity, and the dark side of coming to terms with who you are when the whole world seems like it’s against you. This book is not for the faint-hearted, but it’s brilliant nonetheless.


By Shannon Molloy,

Book cover of Fourteen

Why this book?

This is a stunning and heart-wrenching memoir about growing up gay in an all-boys Catholic school. Written by an award-winning Aussie journalist, the story delves into the challenges of coming to terms with your sexuality as a fourteen-year-old boy, when you’re surrounded by rugby-obsessed schoolmates and rigid views of masculinity. It’s a heartbreaking book, but ultimately hopeful, and it’s one that every Australian (and non-Australian!) needs to read.

Henry Hamlet's Heart

By Rhiannon Wilde,

Book cover of Henry Hamlet's Heart

Why this book?

This book is beautiful from start to finish. The setting is so vivid (that Brisbane humidity and the purple jacarandas, I mean, I am right there!) and the writing is lyrical and gorgeous. The main characters are relatable and adorable and you find yourself cheering for them from the very first page. The story is full of awkward teen experiences, fun banter, tons of swoony scenes, and some truly touching moments.

Holding the Man

By Timothy Conigrave,

Book cover of Holding the Man

Why this book?

This is a classic of Australian literature, and for very good reason. Set during the AIDS epidemic in Australia in the late 1970s through to the early 90s, this memoir plunges us into the author’s life. We begin during his high school days—when he first notices his attraction to boys and starts sneaking out of the house to find ways to explore his sexuality—and follow him all the way through to his inevitably tragic death. It is a truly heartbreaking story, but incredibly life-affirming. An absolute must-read.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Australia, gay teenagers, and gay topics and characters?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Australia, gay teenagers, and gay topics and characters.

Australia Explore 178 books about Australia
Gay Teenagers Explore 26 books about gay teenagers
Gay Topics And Characters Explore 88 books about gay topics and characters

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Frankie, Kindred, and Metal Fish, Falling Snow if you like this list.