Our literary world can (and should!) be as beautifully diverse as the one we live in. These books by gay authors and LGBTQ writers, as well as books with queer characters proudly made their space in our book shelves. All of us deserve to see our lived experiences reflected in the pages of a book.
During Pride Month in June, a lot of attention turns to the rainbow community, its culture, including its artists, creators and authors are highlighted for these 30 days, every product from T-shirts to bagels come in rainbow colours to celebrate the community.
These books have increased the visibility of the LGBTQAI+ community not only during the pride month but for life time.
'On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous' by Ocean Vuong
This novel was Vuong's debut novel that was published in 2019. The novel is about the protagonist, nicknamed Little Dog, whose life mirrors Vuong, and recounts his relationships with a boy he falls in love with, his mother and his own self.
The Vitenamese-American poet came out as gay openly and has reverberated across many readers, for the way it illustrates immigration, intergenerational trauma, assimilation and queerness in a person’s lifetime.
'In the Dream House' by Carmen Maria Machado
Machado is queer and lives in Philadelphia with her wife Val Howlett. 'In the Dream House' was published in 2019. Machado’s memoir is as real as it is painful, portraying the many intricacies of queer relationships. She touches on domestic violence within lesbian relationships, something that is rarely discussed within the community and is more visible with heterosexual relationships.
'Giovanni’s Room' by James Baldwin
James Baldwin embraced his homosexuality and brought up the topic of sexual orientation in his writings. 'Giovanni’s Room' was written back in 1956 and is considered to be one of Baldwin’s masterpieces.
The story revolves around David, an American expat who lives in Paris. David meets and falls in love with Giovanni, an Italian bartender. Frustrated with his desires and his morality, the novel shows the many fraught ways queerness was met in those times.
'This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color' by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa
The book is edited by Moraga who came out as lesbian openly in her college days and Anzaldúa who wrote extensively about her queer identity and the marginalisation of queer people, particularly in communities of colour.
This anthology was first published in 1981 and featured the writing of women of colour. Referencing third-world feminism, the essays, poems and other writing linked class, race and sexuality. Called one of the most-cited books in feminist theorising, the book was instrumental in expanding conversations around queerness as well.
One poem in particular, called 'The Welder' by Moraga, is something that I’ve gone back to, over and over again.
'Zami' by Audre Lorde
While in college, Lorde came out as a lesbian, 15 years before the Stonewall Riots. Lorde was very active in gay culture in Greenwich Village. She details her childhood in the book, her coming of age as well as all of the women who've had profound impact on her: lovers, friends and her mother.
'Zami' is called a biomythography — a blend of history, memoir and mythology. The book written by Black lesbian poet Lorde has become a staple for many folks coming into their queerness.
If you haven’t read these books by proud gay authors, get yourself an awakening reading time and celebrate the queer with cheer.