I fee so lucky to live in a time and place where we can be proud to be ourselves. It’s not always easy, but it is possible. Pride is special to me for a couple reasons, besides the obvious
1. For many years I considered myself an ally. I was on the fringes of acceptance, but scared to come out. Then I saw representation of gay people in books (largely through Lethe Press) and stories (coming out stories and also Netflix DVDs that were delivered in discrete envelopes) and I wanted to be brave like the strong characters in these stories. Stories made me realize for the first time that I could be proud of myself, to acknowledge that I was gay and that I could be strong and happy instead of ashamed.
2. My birthday is in June. That’s it. A little anticlimactic, I know, but it feels a little magical. Another magical thing was that I first came out on a groundhog’s day, which I find pretty funny.
So anyway, I want to return the love and support I got in those early days by sharing some reading recommendations of great gay books.
This is a collection of essays by gay writers, reflecting on a diverse array of coming out stories. Some tragic, others hilarious. I kept this book by my bed for months before and after I first came out, gaining strength and courage from the stories.
by Jandy Nelson
This is a beautifully written YA novel about art, love and everything in between. I know I already said it, but the writing is so beautiful, at once satisfying and startling. This book is made of the kind of sentences that get stuck in your head like songs.
Another YA novel, about love and longing, and another piece of brilliant writing. Seriously, that is enough. Go read it.
by Steve Berman
A YA novel about a gay goth kid. Yet another beautifully written work. The haunting coming of age story is about a boy coming to terms with life, death, sexuality and the strange forces beyond us. Fast paced yet thoughtful, this novel follows some conventional ghost story/horror/suspense conventions in the best, creepiest ways while telling a refreshingly unique story.
Yet another YA novel. I didn’t plan this I swear, they’re just great books. This one is contemporary fantasy, sort of. A girl and a boy from different worlds share a special link and do not fall in love with each other!
by James Baldwin
I first read this in a literature class in college. I’ve now read it about 5 times. This was the first work of “literature” that I read that featured gay characters, and it changed me and continues to change me to this day.
by Ali Smith
Ali Smith is a genius. And this is another book I read for a class but kept reading over and over. Her stories are insanely creative, mind-bending, and wonderfully crafted.
I could keep going on and on with great book recommendations, but celebrating diversity is about sharing and listening so everyone can be heard.
What are your favorites?