Isn’t reading one of the most peaceful things in life? Sitting in the silence of your room or in a mob of thousands, you can be lost in an entirely different world, be carried away by the imaginations of an untamed mind. Fiction or non-fiction, books help us understand the world, the nature of human beings and the experience of a person who must have lived hundreds of years ago, completely unaware of the impact he is making in the lives of people, he’s probably never going to meet. But how many of these authors that you’ve read are gay? The LGBT community has long been ignored and repressed. While we say that we understand human nature and experiences of a person through a book, why do we limit ourselves only to a particular section of people? Aren’t we missing on something important, something very important? Not that every queer author is going to write only about ‘gay’ life, but one’s personalities do reflect in their writing style. There are many famous books written by such writers but only seldom do they get the spotlight. There are phenomenal authors like Oscar Wilde that have left their mark on society and such people need to be read more. So, here are 10 famous books written by queer authors that you must read.
10. Maurice by E. M. Forster:
Maurice is a masterpiece! The Novel was written by Forster in 1914 but he never published it, believing that it wasn’t fit for that time and society. It was only published after his death in 1971. The novel is about a story of a young boy named Maurice, who is ordinary like every other kid except his homosexuality. The novel was very ahead of its time but ‘love’, be it in the eighteenth, nineteenth or third century, will always be love. Forster wrote, “Into this, I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him”.
09. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote:
Truman Capote was a profound novelist, screenwriter and actor. He openly admitted to being homosexual when it was considered a taboo. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a novella (a short story) whose protagonist is Holly Glightly, one of the best creations of Capote. Jamie Brickhouse, the author of Dangerous When Wet, dedicated Breakfast at Tiffany’s as “An LGBT Book that saved my life”. Even though the book is not overtly gay or has any character that is but it is assumed that the narrator probably is.
08. Luna by Julie Anne Peters:
Julie Anne Peters is an American lesbian author who writes young adult fiction. While many of her books deal with LGBTA issues, Luna was the first novel to have a transgender character in a young adult book. She writes about a sixteen year old’s life and her elder sister Luna’s secret transgender identity. Liam, is a regular high school boy in the day and her true self, Luna, by the night. The novel is a remarkable display of transition of Luna’s character and struggles she faces for her right to be the person she is.
07. A Separate Peace by John Knowles:
A Separate Peace by John Knowles is taught in many schools around the world. The story revolves around Gene and Finny, two students who are torn between friendship and rivalry. It is about the confusion of adulthood, threat to identity and the creation of inner enemies.
06. The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth:
Vikram Seth is an Indian novelist and poet with The Golden Gates as one of his best works. This isn’t just a regular novel! The whole book is written in verses, inspired by Charles Johnston’s Eugene Onegin. He uses this form to tell a story of a group of some young middle class professionals in San Fransisco with protagonist John Brown and his relationship with a trail-lawyer Liz.
05. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust:
In Search of Lost Time is a prominent work spread across seven volumes. In July 1909, he retired from the world to write his novel. This was the first volume and Proust had intended only two more volumes up till the time. He writes about the time he has, not ‘lost’ but actually ‘wasted’. The novel has been written in French and all its volumes translated into different languages. All the 7 volumes are works of seven different translators. In his book, Sodom et Gomorrah, he explains what it was to be gay at that time.
04. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde:
A black lesbian poet and a radical feminist writer, Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider is a non-fiction prose written in fifteen essays. The book explores her personal experiences of racism, sexism, homophobia and ageism. The work is considered controversial as Lorde expresses an unapologetic anger at the injustices and prejudices of society.
03. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson:
An incredibly talented English writer, Jeanette Winterson’s Why be happy when you could be normal is about finding joy in life. This book is full of stories of hurt, humour, a fierce love of life and the pursuit of happiness. She tells us how a painful past, that she had repainted, comes back to haunt her again and sets her in a voyage to find her biological mother. This witty book is a search for belongingness.
02. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman:
Walt Whitman was one of the most influential poets. He was often labelled as homosexual or bisexual, the terms that were non-existent in his time. Leaves of Grass is a collection of poetry reflecting America’s transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial power. It also shows Whitman’s personal life and how he suffered from the taboo of homosexual love. Nevertheless, he was very optimistic and believed that America has a ‘bright promise’ for the future.
01. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde:
In 1895, Oscar Wilde, an Irish playwright and poet, was sent to prison for being himself, a homosexual. As baffling and despairing it may sound, homosexuality was a ‘crime’ at that time in England. Oscar was a well-known author by the time, having written several masterpieces like The Importance of Being Earnest, The Poems of Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic story that deals with ‘beauty’ and ‘vanity’, sadly being the most important things in gay culture. The book makes one wonder as to what shall one do if they could be beautiful forever? The book received heavy criticism as it was ‘indecent’ and lacked public morality. It was first published in a magazine whose editor deleted almost 500 words from the book, without Wilde’s knowledge, fearing it was lewd. Wilde aggressively defended his book. Today, the book is constantly rated as one of the best books of all times.
Gift one of these to your friends or buy them for your own insatiable hunger. When I say reading is like meditation to the mind, I strictly mean ‘good literature’. Keep this in mind and have a happy reading!