There has been a lot of focus recently on books with an LGBTQIA theme. Back in the day there were very few novels with a LGBTQIA protagonist – maybe the occasional kooky sidekick but that was it.  Now there are incredible novels including Hayley Long’s Costa Book Award shortlisted What’s Up With Jody Barton? David Levithan’s Every Day and of course his collaboration with John Green for the phenomenal Will Grayson, Will Grayson have really paved the way for this genre and made us think more about gender and sexuality.

However there still seems to be a lack of gay female representation in these YA novels, which seems odd to us as there are so many awesome and inspirational lesbians out there. The plot of  The Dark Light, by Julia Bell, focuses on a forbidden love – Alex and Rebekah, her two protagonists, are instantly drawn to each other but their feelings are against the beliefs of the repressive and dangerous cult that they live in.  Both are feisty, brilliant and well-drawn characters in this fantastically written coming-of-age story and we felt inspired to nominate some of our favourite LGBTQIA women in celebration!

Sue Perkins

The Great British Bake-Off is an autumn staple of every TV screen in the UK it seems, and that is partly due to the brilliant presenter duo of Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc.  Their banter with the contestants is what makes a fluffy and potentially boring concept absolutely hilarious.  Sue, a comedienne and actress, has been on our telly screens for nearly 20 years, with acerbic wit and observational humour and we love everything she’s ever done. She also takes no grief from anyone – after getting abuse on Twitter when she was touted as a potential replacement for Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear she told the trolls exactly where to go.

Ellen Page

Juno is widely regarded as one of the best teen films of all time and justly so. It’s a touching story of a young girl who accidentally becomes pregnant by her high school boyfriend and charts how she deals with the consequences. It’s warm, hilarious and poignant – even the hardest heart will melt by the end.  Ellen Page, the actress playing the eponymous heroine, was deservedly nominated for an Oscar for the role and it set her on a path to Hollywood super stardom.  In 2014 Ellen came out whilst delivering a very public speech at a Human Rights conference – an incredibly brave move that cemented her position as our fantasy BFF.

Jeannette Winterson

If you’ve never read Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, what is wrong with you? Stop reading this blog now and go and buy it.  Go on.  We’ll wait.

Got it?  OK we’ll continue.  Jeanne Winterson is one of the greatest writers of our time.  Fact. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a seminal, important text, a coming-of-age story based loosely on Winterson’s own life.  It will make you laugh and make you cry.  Not only is she an incredible novelist and essayist, she has recently become Professor of Creative Writing at Manchester University – what could be a better honour than being taught by one of the most important writers of the 21st century?

Ruby Rose

From Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit to Orange is the New Black, and one of its coolest stars, actress Ruby Rose.  Rose is an Australian model, with cheekbones to die for and tattoos that make her an actual work of art – but looks aside she is also brave, not afraid to speak her mind and comes across as completely down to earth.  Orange is the New Black has become addictive viewing on Netflix since its release in 2013, and the presence of Rose’s character, Stella, in seasons 3 and 4 only added to its brilliance! 

Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters shot to fame as the author of the brilliant historical novels, Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith.  Historical fiction isn’t for everyone but Waters’ depiction of the vibrant, dark world of Victorian London really captures the imagination and her work has been recognised with hundreds of literary awards over the last fifteen years.  Every single one of her novels is fast-paced, full of intrigue, and with incredibly real characters who are often exploring their sexuality.  They are definitely a must-read – the twist in Fingersmith is one of the most shocking and unpredictable we have ever read!