The 2023 queer agenda: Best books and plays to look forward to, from Elliot Page to A Little Life

(From left to right) Books: Bisexual men exist, Always The Almost, A Million to One, Friday I'm In Love, Page Boy and The Shadown Cabinet HMRC. Theatre shows: KURIOS, A Little Life and The Great British Bake Off. LGBTQ+ Books and Theatre to watch in 2023.

Heist capers, queer magical fantasies and comedy musicals are among 2023’s top LGBTQ+ book and theatre highlights.

Whether you are looking for the perfect novels to kickstart your bookish new year’s resolution or some theatre to lose yourself in this year – this is your go-to-guide of queer culture.

We’ve already rounded up our pick of 2023’s TV shows, films and releases – you can find the definitive list here. If you’re looking for recommendations for the stage and the page, then read on.

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Books

Epic fantasies, coming of age stories and an A-lister memoir.

A Day of Fallen Night, Samantha Shannon – The prequel to Shannon’s bestselling sapphic fantasy Priory of the Orange Tree will once more delve into the intricate world of dragons, magic and folklore as we follow the story of Tunuva Melim, a sister of the Priory. 28 February, 2023.

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(Bloomsbury Publishing)

All The Things They Said We Couldn’t Have: Stories of Trans Joy, Tash Oakes-Monger – A collection of vignettes following the seasons of the years we discover stories of trans joy in healthcare, written by Oakes-Monger, a LGBT+ Project Manager at the NHS, promises to be an emotional read. 19 January, 2023.

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Pageboy: A Memoir, Elliot Page – No 2023 list would be complete without actor Elliot Page’s highly-anticipated memoir chronicling his journey of acceptance towards his trans identity. It will delve into the darker sides of Hollywood, with an unerring message of strength to come out the other end. 6 June, 2023.

Bisexual Men Exist, Vaneet Mehta – This book explores coming out and navigating the LGBTQ+ community as a bisexual man. It aims to tackle hate and misunderstanding that can come with the label and how society can become better allies. 19 January, 2023

A Million to One, Adiba Jaigirdar – Did someone order a sapphic jewel heist? Josefa, Emile, Hinnah, and Violet spend the summer attempting to pull off the ultimate crime aboard the Titanic – until new romance and old grudges threaten to jeopardise everything. January 5, 2023.

The Shadow Cabinet: HMRC, Juno Dawson – Dawson’s second book in the Her Majesty’s Royal Coven trilogy follows Ciara as she gets ready to ascend to high priestess. As government agents from the Shadow Cabinet get involved, the novel continues exploring themes of trans identity, queer joy and magic. 8 June, 2023.

Always The Almost, Edward Underhill – In this young adult romance, we meet Miles Jacobson, a 16-year-old trans pianist on a mission to win back his ex. But when a new boy comes to town his plans are thrown into disarray. 14 February, 2023.

Friday I’m In Love, Camryn Garrett – When Mahalia Harris decides to swap out her sweet 16 for a coming out party, chaos ensues. A celebration of black joy, queerness and finding yourself. 2 February, 2023.

The Happy Couple, Naoise Dolan – The follow-up to the Irish author’s Exciting Times is another sharply-observed story of relationships and identity. This time, we meet Luke and Celine, a couple who have no business being engaged to each other, and yet, are planning a wedding. 25 May, 2023.

Theatre

Romance, tragedy, comedy and, even, a Bake Off musical.

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A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara’s best-selling novel A Little Life is coming to the West End in an epic (almost) four hour adaptation from Ivo van Hove. The story follows the friendship between Jude, Wilhelm, Malcom and JB over several decades as they encounter immense trauma and deep love.

25 March to June 18 at the Harold Pointer Theatre.

The Boys are Kissing. (Danny Kaan)

The Boys are Kissing – From emerging playwright Zak Zarafshan, this play follows what happens when two classmates, Samir and Lucas, share a kiss and set the mums’ Whatsapp group on fire. The parents and children challenge their prejudices in this unexpected comedy.

17 January to 4 February at Theatre503.

Cirque Du Soleil’s KURIOSMichel Laprise is bringing his hit Cirque Du Soleil show, KURIOS: Cabinet of Curiosities to the Royal Albert Hall. The Victorian steampunk inspired show will plunge viewers into the depth of their imaginations with magical characters and sequences.

13 January to 5 March at the Royal Albert Hall.

My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do) – Following the huge success of previous stints, Rob Madge’s hit show will be returning to the West End for a limited run. It bring to life the joyous autobiography of Madge and the viral video of him putting on a Disney parade in his own home at the age of 12. Needless to say, chaos ensued.

25 January to 18 March at the Ambassador’s Theatre.

The Great British Bake Off Musical – Everyone’s favourite queercoded reality baking show is coming to theatres in an all new musical format. Think baking, singing and absolute joy by acclaimed duo Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary.

25 February to 17 March at Noël Coward’s Theatre.

Birds and Bees – Coming from the back of the immense success of her Globe Theatre show, I, Joan, Charlie Josephine brings their new touring show. It follows four school classmates as they explore sex positivity, online safety and what it means to go viral. This searing exploration of the education system will tour Plymouth, Sheffield and Scarborough.

25 January to 11 March.

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