Gay Book Recs (mlm)

Welcome to a page dedicated to all the gay recommendations! Although the term “gay” can apply to anyone who is sexually attractive to the same sex, this page is specifically dedicated to books that contain relationships between two boys. Please see our Lesbian Book Recs page for some wlw romances! Below are some books we at Rainbow Stacks have LOVED along with some that are still on our TBR, including some wonderful recommendations from some gay YA authors. Feel free to comment some others that YOU loved (:

*NOTE: all books provided on this page includes a list of Trigger Warnings either provided by the author or provided with thorough research. It will be noted if the trigger warnings are directly from the author. Much of our research came from reader reviews on Goodreads or on BookTriggerWarnings.com. Even though time and care was put into researching these triggers, these lists may still not be exhaustive and may not include your specific triggers. If any of these books seem like they could be triggering, research your own triggers before reading. Take care of yourself xx.

Books We’ve Read and Loved

The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch

Representation: MC is a gay boy with a male love interest. There is also a transgender side character, including Black and Iraqi side characters.

Trigger Warnings (TW): bullying, car accident (in past), death of a parent (past), vomit, homophobia (including F slur), islamophobia, parental abandonment, racism, religion based hate

This adorable YA contemporary is perfect for anyone who wants a feel good queer story. This one follows a boy named Sky whose long-term plans to ask his totally straight crush Ali to prom are leaked to the entire school. Sky and his friends are then determined to figure out who exposed Sky and why. Filled with hilarity and heart, this one made us burst into tears of joy for the characters at the end. Pick this one up if you want something cute and fun while also tackling heavier topics like homophobia and bullying.

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Sky Baker may be openly gay, but in his small, insular town, making sure he was invisible has always been easier than being himself. Determined not to let anything ruin his senior year, Sky decides to make a splash at his high school’s annual beach bum party by asking his crush, Ali, to prom—and he has thirty days to do it.

What better way to start living loud and proud than by pulling off the gayest promposal Rock Ledge, Michigan, has ever seen?

Then, Sky’s plans are leaked by an anonymous hacker in a deeply homophobic e-blast that quickly goes viral. He’s fully prepared to drop out and skip town altogether—until his classmates give him a reason to fight back by turning his thirty-day promposal countdown into a school-wide hunt to expose the e-blast perpetrator.

But what happens at the end of the thirty days? Will Sky get to keep his hard-won visibility? Or will his small-town blues stop him from being his true self?

Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

Representation: MC is Iranian and is a questioning/gay boy. There are also other gay side characters, one of which has AIDS

Trigger Warnings (TW): Discussion of the AIDS crisis (in detail), aphobia, blood, classism, death (of family members), vomit, fatphobia, homophobia (internalized), Illness (terminal), Islamophobia, misogyny (internalized), parental abuse, Pulse Nightclub (mentioned), racism, self-harm, suicide ideation, violence

Like A Love Story is a book that has stuck with us ever since we read it a few years ago. This one is a complex story that confronts the AIDS crisis of the 1980s-1990s head-on, as it features multiple gay individuals who have the disease. At the center of the story is an Iranian boy named Reza who is absolutely terrified that by simply suspecting he might be gay might cause him to contract AIDS. This leads to a lot of internal turmoil he has to face all while trying to be a “normal” teenager and creating bonds and friendships with those around him.

This one is heavy and emotional. It is also a love letter to the queer community, past and present. If you are okay with the heavier topics discussed, pick this one up if you want a story that will hallow you out while also provided hope for the future ❤

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known. 

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Representation: MC questions his sexuality throughout the book and is hinted at being gay. He is also Biracial (white/Iranian).

Trigger Warnings (TW): abelism, bullying, death of a parent, depression (of MC), fatphobia, homophobia, terminal illness of family member, Islamophobia, racism including slurs, suicide ideation, disordered eating

Darius the Great is Not Okay is a book that was on our TBR for such a long time and we are thrilled we finally got around to it! Adib Khorram was able to craft a love letter Persian culture while also depicting a main character who deals with depression and anxiety throughout the book without letting those illnesses take over his life. Darius deals with depression and suicidal thoughts throughout the book but he also makes new friends and grows closer to his family members. In other words, Darius is not consumed by his mental illness and we think that is such important representation to have.

There is also very subtle hints throughout the book that Darius is gay because he starts to develop feelings for his male friend he makes while in Iran. However, that really is not the focus of the story. Darius does not really know anything quite yet so this is perfect for anyone who wants to read a story with a questioning main character where his sexuality does not take the forefront in the story.

We cannot wait to read more about Darius in the companion novel/sequel Darius the Great Deserves Better.

Here is the official synopsis provided by Goodreads:

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming—especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Representation: MC is a gay male. There are also gay and lesbian side characters.

Trigger Warnings (TW): blackmail (threatening to out MC), bullying, homophobia, lesbophobia, public outing

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a staple of queer YA literature for us. This one had wildly popular success both as a book and as a movie (with the title Love, Simon). So, if you have not picked this one up yet, here is your sign to do so. Follow a boy named Simon who is blackmailed by someone at his school who threatens to out him and his relationship with an anonymous “Blue” to the entire school. With a bleak beginning, this novel shifts into something truly adorable and delightful and you watch Simon and Blue fall for each other. Pick this one up if you want a swee,t gay story that features a cast of heartwarming characters.

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Representation: Centers a m/m romance where one MC is gay and the other is Bisexual. Also includes 2 lesbian characters in a f/f relationship and a trans woman.

Trigger Warnings (TW) as provided by the author (includes all 4 volumes): emotionally abusive relationships, homophobia (with slurs), bullying, sexual assault (one non-consensual kiss). VOL 3+4 ONLY: eating disorders, anxiety, reference to self harm, anorexia, OCD, discussion of trauma, therapy, psychiatric ward.

Here we go again! Another list that mentions Heartstopper! If you’ve been browsing Rainbow Stacks for a little bit, you’ll probably find that this graphic novel series is including on many recommendations lists. Alice Oseman includes so many sexualities and gender identities within all of her books, but especially Heartstopper. Although this series blew up in early 2022 because of the brilliant Netflix adaptation (watch it now if you haven’t!!), if you are still on the fence about whether to pick up this graphic novel series, this is your sign to do so!

I loved watching one of our main male characters realize he is bisexual. It touched a personal part of our hearts that we will never forget. If you are looking for amazing bisexual rep or any LGBTQIA+ rep, Heartstopper has lots of lovable and inspiring queer characters.

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him.

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Representation: MC identifies as gay. There is a mlm romance

Trigger Warnings (TW): attempted suicide, homophobia, depression, domestic abuse, suicide

More Happy Than Not was one of the first gay YA books that we at Rainbow Stacks read back in 2015. We still think of it to this day because of how emotional and gut-wrenching it was. This one is certainly for those who are okay with an emotional rollercoaster that will most certainly make you cry!

This story follows a boy named Aaron who is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, so much so that he applies to have his memories altered so he won’t “remember” that he is gay anymore. This decision has devastating consequences for Aaron as he also forgets who he really is and the people who made him happy. Even though this one is heartbreaking, we highly recommend it!

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut confronts race, class, and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto is struggling to find happiness after a family tragedy leaves him reeling. He’s slowly remembering what happiness might feel like this summer with the support of his girlfriend Genevieve, but it’s his new best friend, Thomas, who really gets Aaron to open up about his past and confront his future.

As Thomas and Aaron get closer, Aaron discovers things about himself that threaten to shatter his newfound contentment. A revolutionary memory-alteration procedure, courtesy of the Leteo Institute, might be the way to straighten himself out. But what if it means forgetting who he truly is?

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Representation: There is a closeted gay side character. Although he is not the focus of the story, he plays an important role

Trigger Warnings (TW): abuse, bullying, car accident, death, drug abuse, homophobia, incest, infidelity, mental illness, panic attacks, pedophilia, racism, rape, sexual abuse, suicide, suicide ideation

This hilarious and devastating coming of age novel will stick with us forever. Although the main character in this story is not gay himself, a character very important to the plot is and the story discusses what it means to be gay in a time where that was not so easily accepted.

At its core, this one is about a boy named Charlie who forms an unlikely friendship with some older students at his school. From there he is introduced to the complicated world of high school, love, crushes, sex, and drugs. This one is perfect for anyone who wants a classic YA story!

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being A WALLFLOWER

This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that the perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Representation: Both MCs are Mexican-American and in a mlm relationship. There are also sapphic side characters.

Trigger Warnings (TW): animal death, broken bones, car accident, death (off page), depression, gay bashing, homophobia, hospitalization, PTSD, sexism, transphobic hate crime (past), violence

This heartfelt story will have you hugging this book to your chest! Aristotle and Dante is another slightly older YA story that we read a few years back. It follows two boys who strike up an unlikely friendship, as one is open and bright, while the other is hiding some dark secrets. Pick this one up if you want to be swept away!

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side. 

Books Still On Our TBR

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Representation: MC questions his sexuality throughout the book and is hinted at being gay. He is also Biracial (white/Iranian).

Trigger Warnings (TW): abelism, bullying, death of a parent, depression (of MC), fatphobia, homophobia, terminal illness of family member, Islamophobia, racism including slurs, suicide ideation, disordered eating,

Here is the official synopsis provided by Goodreads:

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming—especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

Representation: MC is gay and there is a mlm relationship. Love interest is gay and Chinese-American. There is also a genderqueer side character and other gay side characters.

Trigger Warnings (TW): cheating (between the MCs), significant lying and miscommunication (between MCs), vomiting, homophobia, sexual content

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.

Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones…because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan.

From debut novelist Jason June comes a moving and hilarious sex-positive story about the complexities of first loves, first hookups, and first heartbreaks—and how to stay true to yourself while embracing what you never saw coming.

Cafe Con Lychee by Emery Lee

Representation: MCs are both gay and there is a mlm relationship. One MC is Chinese and Japanese and the other is Puerto Rican.

Trigger Warnings (TW) provided by the author: homophobia (internal +external), food, toxic masculinity, emotional abuse, coming out, cultural appropriation

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Theo Mori wants to escape. Leaving Vermont for college means getting away from working at his parents’ Asian American café and dealing with their archrivals’ hopeless son Gabi who’s lost the soccer team more games than Theo can count.

Gabi Moreno is miserably stuck in the closet. Forced to play soccer to hide his love for dance and iced out by Theo, the only openly gay guy at school, Gabi’s only reprieve is his parents’ Puerto Rican bakery and his plans to take over after graduation.

But the town’s new fusion café changes everything. Between the Mori’s struggling shop and the Moreno’s plan to sell their bakery in the face of the competition, both boys find their dreams in jeopardy. Then Theo has an idea—sell photo-worthy food covertly at school to offset their losses. When he sprains his wrist and Gabi gets roped in to help, they realize they need to work together to save their parents’ shops but will the new feelings rising between them be enough to send their future plans up in smoke?

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

Representation: Both MCs are gay and in a mlm relationship. One MC is Mexican. Includes Black and Mexican side characters.

Trigger Warnings (TW): rape (recounted by character), sexual assault, PTSD, abusive parents, mental health issues

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Max: Chill. Sports. Video games. Gay and not a big deal, not to him, not to his mom, not to his buddies. And a secret: An encounter with an older kid that makes it hard to breathe, one that he doesn’t want to think about, ever.

Jordan: The opposite of chill. Poetry. His “wives” and the Chandler Mall. Never been kissed and searching for Mr. Right, who probably won’t like him anyway. And a secret: A spiraling out of control mother, and the knowledge that he’s the only one who can keep the family from falling apart.

Throw in a rickety, 1980s-era food truck called Coq Au Vinny. Add in prickly pears, cloud eggs, and a murky idea of what’s considered locally sourced and organic. Place it all in Mesa, Arizona, in June, where the temp regularly hits 114. And top it off with a touch of undeniable chemistry between utter opposites.

Over the course of one summer, two boys will have to face their biggest fears and decide what they’re willing to risk — to get the thing they want the most. 

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Representation: MC is gay and there is a mlm relationship. This is also a transgender, multiple gay, and a bisexual side character.

Trigger Warnings (TW): queermisia, homomisia (erasure of gay individiuals), homophobia (including slurs), cheating, bullying, coming out

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world. 

Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson

Representation: MC is a Black queer boy and there is a mlm relationship with another Black boy.

Trigger Warnings (TW): death of a loved one, mentions of cancer, grief, racism, homophobia, mentions of organ transplants

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.

He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.

And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.

Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

Reverie by Ryan La Sala

Representation: MC identifies as gay.

Trigger Warnings (TW): abelism, parental abuse (in past), Alzheimer’s (of grandparent), anxiety, blood, bullying, death, homophobia, manipulation, murder, sexism, torture, trauma, violence

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.

As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.

This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.