As June is coming to its end, Gay Pride is at its height! Covid-19 may have forced the parades to move to the virtual space but that does not lessen the spirit of love and celebration. As the show goes on, we want to contribute in the way we know best: recommending books! So get ready to celebrate sexual diversity with books that will take you over the rainbow.
In this micro-selection we present classics of the genre as well as recent literary rising stars, established and emerging authors, novels and biographic texts. Still, we are aware that this list is not even beginning to cover the whole spectre of the genre, as LGBTQ literature is rocking it both in and out of the closet. Here are 7 books that we recommend to fall in love with LGTBQ writing:
Lifting Belly – An Erotic Poem
We are starting with a masterpiece: Gertrude Stein’s erotic poem is considered a lesbian classic among literary critics and has been reprinted by Counterpoint in honor of Pride Month. Stein wrote the almost 50-page poem for her life partner Alice B. Toklas between 1915 and 1917. At this time, the Great War was at its peak and the two women were on a constant move. So it is not surprising that LIFTING BELLY not only celebrates lesbian love but also examines the influence of war on love. Whether LGTBQ or not, LIFTING BELLY is a must-read for everybody!
You Will Be Safe Here
Damian Barr’s remarkable debut novel has been celebrated by the press and readers alike. A complex story that jumps back and forth between the concentration camps that were installed in South Africa during the second Boer war (1899 – 1902) and 2010, when 16-year-old homosexual Willem Brandt arrives at a training camp for troubled boys. Both stories tell the horrific reality of the camps but Barr knows how to narrate the cruelties with empathy rather than with voyeuristic pleasure. Inspired by true events.
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction and the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction, JONNY APPLESEED is the story of a queer First Nations man (aka “NDN glitter princess”) looking for his place in life. Jonny enjoys the city but needs to go back to the reserve to be with his mother after his stepfather’s death. He raises the travel money with cybersex, fulfilling his customers’ sexual Indian fantasies. This is a story about love in all possible forms. Whether secret, sexual, virtual, platonic or familial love, Whitehead shows that love is always complicated, especially if you add indigenous AND queer to the table. An impressive debut novel that allows us to get an understanding of what it is like to be a queer indigenous Canadian in today’s world.
Next in Line for Love
It is hard to pick only one book by the queen of lesbian romance and bestselling author Harper Bliss. She is known for her series, especially French Kissing and Pink Bean but for this selection we have decided to present you a standalone. NEXT IN LINE FOR LOVE is a modern love story of two business women who need to trust each other for the sake of the company despite their mutual dislike. An engaging story that is perfect for your holiday reading list.
Cannot get enough of Harper Bliss? We do not blame you, check out her book series on her author page.
German Jew Muslim Gay – The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus
This stunning biography sheds light on a little-known but extraordinary historic figure. There is no single label to describe Hugo Marcus, born as a German Jew in 1880, he converted to Islam in 1920. Even though he rose to fame as the president of the German Muslim Society; Marcus (or Hamid, as he called himself after converting) never gave up his membership in the Jewish society as he saw no discrepancy between the two religions. Sent to a concentration camp by the Nazis, Hamid was able to escape to Switzerland in 1938. He never called himself gay but openly fought for homosexual rights in Germany and abroad. A truly inspiring person that the world needs to know about!
Gifted with exceptional literary talent and disrespect for social conventions, Oscar Wilde paid an extreme price for refusing to live confined to Victorian double standards. Instead of focusing on his well-known literary work we have chosen to recommend you a letter he wrote to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas from Reading prison. A unique piece of writing that lets us get a glimpse behind the mask of the self-indulgent genius and which proves that the creative mind is capable of creating beauty even in the most extreme conditions.
The Book of Pride – LGTBQ Heroes Who Changed the World
This anthology of queer stories provides an insightful glimpse into the lives and experiences of LGTBQ pioneers and elders. Mason Funk created OUTWORDS in order to capture queer history and make sure that it will never be erased nor rewritten. The 75 stories were selected from over 130 interviews and OUTWORDS continues collecting and sharing queer experiences to inspire generations to come and to promote inclusivity, integrity and authenticity in the United States and beyond. THE BOOK OF PRIDE is a toast to sexual diversity that allows us to meet remarkable people.