Amplify LGBTQIA+ Voices With These Audiobook Authors and Narrators

June is Pride Month, a time to honor and celebrate the vibrant LGBTQIA+ community and its rich history, culture, and achievements. It’s also a time to elevate, uplift, and spotlight voices that have been historically marginalized and underrepresented, which is the driving force behind the work of Nicky Endres (they/she).

Nicky is an Asian American non-binary transfeminine queer actor, comic, voice artist, and audiobook narrator. Their projects span the gender spectrum and provide an authentic and versatile voice, which was just awarded the Publishing Professionals Award at this year’s Lambda Literary Awards, also known as the Lammy Awards. In partnership with Spotify, this year’s Publishing Professional Award honors an individual in the LGBTQIA+ community whose innovative work in the publishing industry helps amplify important LGBTQIA+ literature.

For the Record sat down with Nicky to learn more about their upbringing, their experience as an artist and actor, the intimacy of audiobook narration, and more.

Congratulations on winning the Publishing Professionals Award! How does it feel to be recognized for your work helping queer and trans authors reach more readers across mediums?

In a word? Affirming! I’m humbled and grateful. Amplifying queer and trans stories and connecting people to queer and trans hearts is very present in everything I do. I care deeply about representation, communication, and community. I care because I grew up in a homogeneously white, conservative, and religious small town without knowing there was anyone else like me in the world. Before I was consciously aware of my identity, I found myself committed to the arts. I think it’s because of art’s ability to communicate between words and concepts, to connect to an audience without necessarily having to clearly define itself, or to just exist—as if existence itself is the point, inviting itself to be experienced. Art was a way for me to “be” before I could explain who I was. 

Building bridges and opening hearts and minds—especially inviting people of all identities into the hearts and minds of queer authors and their stories—aligns directly with what inspires and drives me as an artist and actor. Narrating audiobooks is the perfect nexus where all the things I love most meet. It’s very affirming to know that the love and care with which I approach this work is being felt and shared by authors and listeners, as well as by publishers, producers, fellow narrators, and of course, Lambda Literary and Spotify!

Audiobooks have become a popular way to consume novels. As a narrator, how do you think reading the words aloud changes the experience for the listener?

My favorite thing about the oral telling of a story, as a narrator, is crafting the feeling of intimacy that invites emotional experiences that are different—not better or worse—from reading text visually. For some books and for some readers, this difference can feel deeper, more personal, funnier, or scarier depending on the genre, or—especially in the case of queer and trans books—it can add an additional layer of authenticity and representation. For some nonfiction books, listening can sometimes make the information easier to digest. Certain types of humor can also feel more dimensional in audio than on the page. But most of all, I think the biggest benefit of the audiobook experience is the accessibility. Accessibility is freedom. Having the choice to enjoy literature both visually and auditorily means literature can reach more people. And all people deserve to enjoy literature, no matter their situation.

What’s your earliest memory of stories’ being read aloud to you—audiobooks or otherwise?

I am so lucky that my mom was a kindergarten teacher! My sister and I had the enormous benefit of being read to quite regularly by both our parents. But my mom had a special knack for connecting with kids, and she never got bored of reading the same books to us multiple times. My sister and I both grew up taking literacy for granted. It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized what a gift and privilege that was, because she wouldn’t just read to us; she made learning to read fun, involving us in the stories. And now my parents can listen to me read to them! 

What is your favorite audiobook genre to narrate and why? 

My favorite genre to narrate is LGBTQIA+ literature. I love it for two reasons: Firstly, living as a queer trans person in a cisgender, hetero-normative world, I seek stories that include and reflect my lived experience in intimate, knowing ways. Secondly, I love that LGBTQIA+ as a “genre” is incredibly multidimensional. It’s less a “genre” in the traditional sense and more a category with the flexibility to include, blend, and overlap all genres. And I love that, because even as a genre/category, LGBTQIA+ literature is just like queer identities and queer culture: diverse and inclusive within the umbrella of what is “queer.”

You have mastered so many dialects across your range of work. Do you have a favorite?

I’m very fond of British Modern London dialects, or “Estuary English,” which features aspects of both British Received Pronunciation and Cockney. Honestly, I like it so much that I pull it out anywhere I’m not likely to have repeat interactions. And it was very validating when I last visited England that people assumed I was from London!

What are you listening to or reading right now?

I am having a blast listening to Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly, narrated by Gary Furlong, Eilidh Beaton, Natalie Beran, Jackson Bliss, and Nico Evers-Swindell. It’s an absolute delight and has made me both LOL and “awww” several times.

Here are more LGBTQIA+ author and narrator recommendations from Spotify’s audiobooks editors, who have curated our GLOW audiobooks shelf for Pride this month on platform as part of our GLOW hub. You can also check out our podcast shelf within the hub.

The Risk it Takes to Bloom: On Life and Liberation

Written and narrated by Raquel Willis 

Born in Georgia to Black Catholic parents, Raquel Willis spent years feeling isolated, even within a loving, close-knit family. There was little access to understanding what it meant to be queer and transgender. It wasn’t until she went to the University of Georgia that she found the LGBTQ+ community, fell in love, and explored her gender for the first time. But the unexpected death of her father forced her to examine her relationship with herself and those she loved. In The Risk it Takes to Bloom, Raquel recounts the possibility of transformation after tragedy and how complex moments can push us all to take the necessary risks to bloom.

And Don’t F&%k It Up: An Oral History of RuPaul’s Drag Race (The First Ten Years) 

Maria Elena Fernandez

Narrated by Alec Mapa

Dive into this definitive history and celebration of the groundbreaking show RuPaul’s Drag Race in its first decade. And Don’t F&%k It Up follows the growth and evolution of the show from its beginnings in a Burbank basement set all the way to the Emmys, as told by its creators, stars, producers, and fans.

The Gay Best Friend

Nicolas DiDomizio

Narrated by Daniel Henning

Domenic Marino has always been the token gay best friend and has become an expert at code-switching between the hypermasculine and ultrafeminine worlds of his two soon-to-be-wed best friends. But now stuck between the warring bride and groom, he decides he’s ready to focus on something new: himself.

The No-Girlfriend Rule

Christen Randall

Narrated by Natalie Naudus

Hollis Beckwith is fat, anxious, and lost at the start of senior year when she decides to learn her boyfriend’s favorite tabletop roleplaying game, Secrets & Sorcery. His “no girlfriends at the table” rule leads her to find her own all-girls game. She becomes fast friends with the girls and ends up developing a crush on one of them. The No-Girlfriend Rule explores how roleplaying brings Hollis new confidence, true friends, and a shot at real love.

Under the Whispering Door

TJ Klune

Narrated by Kirt Graves

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when given one week to cross over, Wallace sets out to live a lifetime in seven days. Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home.