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Here are some exceptional works about LGBTQ+ experience — past, present, even future. Most are written by LGBTQ+ authors. Books range from classic to current, and are divided into seven sections: Contemporary | Pre-Stonewall (before 1969) | Fun Stuff | Genres | Drama | Poetry | Non-Fiction. All public domain works (pre-1927) link to free copies. Enjoy!

Selection Process: This is my personal list, often focused on the many connections between the general ‘mainstream’ literary canon and LGBTQ+ literature: Shakespeare, Dickinson, Whitman, Woolf, Proust, Baldwin. To keep the length manageable, most writers are limited to one exemplary – best and most representative – title. My basic criterion for good writing is the author’s imaginative connection between the content (themes and emotions) and form (the actual ‘words on the page,’ the style). Oscar Wilde is the only author with works in every category except, of course, contemporary. The vast diversity of LGBTQ+ literature is breathtaking, from the visionary simplicity of Emily Dickinson’s poetry to the psychological complexity of Henry James’s fiction to the fiery insights of James Baldwin’s essays, and so much more.

While I have read in their entirety almost all of the books listed here, there are countless runners-up. For each author’s other works, I’ve read at least the first twenty pages then skimmed the rest. There is much more to discover, in the extraordinarily rich, and ever-growing LGBTQ+ literary tradition. This is a lifelong project, and I will continue indefinitely adding to it, typically two or three new books per year. I especially look forward to exploring, and adding, more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) LGBTQ+ Literature, although BIPOC authors have long been included here. All available public domain titles (Shakespeare, Melville, early Woolf, many more) link to free online editions. On a personal note, I originally compiled this resource between 1997 and 2008, while simultaneously caring for an ill family member. Now in 2022, I continue with a major update to this page, having added about two dozen post-2008 titles, as well as sitewide updates for LGBTQ+ literature, cinema, visual arts, and music. Enjoy!

If you are new to LGBTQ+ literature, I recommend the 1908 collection, Ioläus: An Anthology of Friendship [free online – pronounced ‘eye ALLOW us’] that spans the globe, from antiquity to Whitman; edited by human rights pioneer Edward Carpenter. An indispensable resource is editor Claude J. Summers’s encyclopedic Gay & Lesbian Literary Heritage, with hundreds of articles on individual authors, national literatures, artistic forms (such as the novel, drama, poetry), genres (science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery), and more.

While many of these LGBTQ+ authors’ books are already at the core of Western culture, the same is also true for the works of LGBTQ+ visual artists, LGBTQ+ composers, LGBTQ+ filmmakers, and more. We revere their public contributions, but their sexual orientation — a fundamental part of who they are — often has been obscured, which is why a LGBTQ+ focus is worth considering.

GLOBAL TRADITIONS: While this site focuses largely on Western works, I value other cultures’ LGBTQ+ artistic heritages. As they become accessible in English, I look forward to exploring the additional worlds and insights that they hold. As a global community, standing upon millennia of history and resilience, the future of LGBTQ+ arts is diverse and bright.

* LGBTQ+ Literature Resources

Links to LGBTQ+ Literature resources from both this site and selected external sites.


Contemporary | Pre-Stonewall | Fun Stuff | Genres | Drama | Poetry | Non-Fiction

Contemporary (Since Stonewall 1969)

  • Aciman, André – Call Me By Your Name – The love affair of two American men in 1950s Italy [book resources]; 2007
  • Allison, Dorothy — Bastard Out of Carolina — Young woman survives a brutal childhood; 1992
  • Alther, Lisa — Kinflicks — Coming out in tumultuous 1950s/60s; 1976
  • Barker, Pat — Regeneration — World War I through historical and fictional characters; author continues trilogy with Eye in the Door and Ghost Road; 1992
  • Bartlett, Neil — Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall — Passionate, experimental novel about gay and straight families; 1990
  • Bolaño, Roberto — By Night in Chile — Last night of a gay priest who secretly instructed the dictator Pinochet; 2000
  • Boyne, John – The Heart’s Invisible Furies – Poignant, sometimes comic epic of 70 years of modern Irish history as lived by a gay everyman [book resources]; 2017
  • Bram, Christopher — Father of Frankenstein — Fiction about the last days of great filmmaker James Whale; 1995
  • Brown, Rita Mae — Rubyfruit Jungle — Spunky lesbian comes out with a bang; 1973
  • Burgess, Anthony — Earthly Powers — Relationship of gay novelist and Pope; 1980
  • Cameron, Peter — The Weekend — Three people remember their dead friend; 1994
  • Chabon, Michael — The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay — Two brilliant cousins create a comic book superhero, in this epic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel; 2000
  • Chatwin, Bruce — On the Black Hill — 80 years in the lives of Welsh twin brothers; 1982
  • Cooper, Dennis — Closer — Obsessions about an enigmatic man; 1989
  • Cunningham, Michael — The Hours — Experiences of three women, including Virginia Woolf, spanning the 20th c.; 1998
  • Dykewomon, Elana — Riverfinger Women — Woman triumphs over prostitution and abuse; 1974
  • Ellis, Bret Easton — Less Than Zero — How a group of nihilistic Generation X college students spend their Christmas vacation; 1985
  • Evaristo, Bernardine – Girl, Woman, Other – Kaleidoscopic novel about the intersecting lives of a dozen diverse British women of color, of all orientations, from 1905 to 2017 [book resources]; 2019
  • Feinberg, Leslie — Stone Butch Blues — Lesbian passes as a man in 1960s NY; 1993
  • Ferro, Robert — The Family of Max Desir — A man tries to unite his gay and straight lives; 1983
  • Flagg, Fannie — Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe — Two women become partners, in love and business, running a small Alabama cafe; 1987
  • Forrest, Katherine — Curious Wine — Best-selling lesbian love story; 1983
  • Fox, John — Boys on the Rock — Tender, funny gay coming of age novel; 1984
  • Glass, Julia — Three Junes — Loves and losses in a Scottish family during three fateful summers; 2002
  • Grimsley, Jim — Dream Boy — Boy survives incest through a friend’s love; 1995
  • Grumbach, Doris — The Ladies — Based on historical 18th c. lesbian couple in Wales; 1984
  • Harris, Bertha — Lover — Experimental work “from the libido”; 1976
  • Holleran, Andrew — Dancer from the Dance — Life in ’70s NYC fast lane; 1978
  • Hollinghurst, Alan — The Swimming-Pool Library — Interracial affair in pre-AIDS London; 1988
  • Jones, Jr., Robert – The Prophets – The visionary love between two slaves, on a Mississippi plantation; 2021
  • Kenan, Randall — Let the Dead Bury Their Dead — Stories about the diverse people living in a small North Carolina town; 1992
  • Leavitt, David — Lost Language of Cranes — Father and son, both gay, come to terms; 1986
  • Lo, Malinda – Last Night at the Telegraph Club – two teenage girls fall in love in 1950s San Francisco Chinatown, against the backdrop of the Red Scare and the Lavender Scare; 2021
  • Lorde, Audre— Zami: A New Spelling of My Name — powerful “biomythography” (fictionalized memoir) of growing up in 1950s Harlem and becoming, in her own words, a “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” [book resources]; 1982
  • Lurie, Alison — The Last Resort — “Perfect housewife” explores lesbian life; 1998
  • Maupin, Armistead — Tales of the City Series — Series of nine funny, moving novels centering on San Francisco’s freewheeling 28 Barbary Lane; 1978–2014
  • McCauley, Stephen — The Object of My Affection — Gay man and straight woman share a Brooklyn apartment and their lives; 1987
  • Monette, Paul — Halfway Home — Dying drag performance artist finds love; 1991
  • Nadas, Peter — Book of Memories — Magnum opus about postwar Hungary; 1985
  • O’Neill, Jamie — At Swim, Two Boys — Two young men seek political and romantic freedom during Dublin’s tumultuous 1916 Easter Uprising; 2001
  • Okparanta, Chinelo – Under the Udala Trees – A young lesbian’s life parallels the tumultuous history of modern Nigeria [book resources] ;2015
  • Plante, David — Francoeur Trilogy — Boy grows up in a Franco-American home: Family, Country, & Woods; 1978
  • Puig, Manuel — Kiss of the Spider Woman — An apolitical gay man and a straight revolutionary share Argentine prison cell; 1976
  • Purdy, James — In a Shallow Grave — Passionate, lyrical tale of a disfigured war veteran returned home; 1975
  • Renault, Mary — The Persian Boy — Alexander the Great and his lover; 1972
  • Russell, Paul — The Coming Storm — Four interwoven perspectives on a student/teacher affair at a private boys’ school; 1999
  • Sadownick, Douglas — Sacred Lips of the Bronx — Moves between a young man’s first love in the 1970s Bronx and relationships in 1991 L.A.; 1994
  • Schulman, Sarah — Rat Bohemia — Cast-off lesbians and a gay man form a family; 1995
  • Selvadurai, Shyam — Funny Boy — Growing up gay in Sri Lanka; 1996
  • Shockley, Ann Allen — Loving Her — Landmark novel of interracial lesbian relationship; 1974
  • Spanbauer, Tom — The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon — Taming of the Wild West, as told by a gay shaman; 1992
  • Swift, Edward — Splendora — Man returns to hometown as Miss Jessie; 1978
  • Tóibín, Colm — The Story of the Night — Gay man comes of age during Argentina’s violent struggle towards democracy in the 1980s; 1993
  • Truong, Monique — The Book of Salt — Fictional memoir of Vietnamese cook to Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas; 2003
  • Vuong, Ocean – On Earth We are Briefly Gorgeous – Moving between the Vietnam war and contemporary Hartford, Connecticut, a young gay man comes to terms with his Vietnamese mother and grandmother, and his white boyfriend [book resources]; 2019
  • Walker, Alice — The Color Purple — Abused woman finds self-acceptance through love with a blues singer; 1982
  • Warren, Patricia Nell — The Front Runner — Track coach and star runner fall in love; 1974
  • Waters, Sarah — Tipping the Velvet — Young lesbian seeks a “life of sensation” in 1890s England; 1999
  • White, Edmund — A Boy’s Own Story — A self-corrupting gay youth in the 1950s; 1982
  • Winterson, Jeanette — Oranges are Not the Only Fruit — Lesbian teen grows up in a British fundamentalist family; 1985
  • Yanagihara, Hanya – A Little Life – epic comedy/drama of the complex relationship between four friends; 2015

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Pre-Stonewall (Before 1969)

  • Ameng of Wu [Wuxia Ameng], editor — The Cut Sleeve (story by Pu Songling) — from a collection of 2,500 years of Chinese “strange tales;” 1740
  • Baldwin, James — Go Tell It on the Mountain — A black Pentecostal teenager discovers the truth about himself and his family; 1953
  • Baldwin, James — Giovanni’s Room — Tragedy of a gay man who cannot love; 1956
  • Balzac, Honoré — Vautrin Series — First major gay character – master criminal Vautrin (Jacques Collin, nicknamed “Trompe-la-Mort” because he repeatedly “Cheats Death” / execution) – appears in five books of Balzac’s monumental series The Human Comedy: Lost Illusions, Lost Illusions II: A Distinguished Provincial at Paris & Lost Illusions II: Eve and David [free online in one volume], Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life [free online], Father Goriot [free online – ideal book to begin exploring Balzac], and The Deputy of Arcis [free online] ; 1833-47 — Balzac also wrote a play, Vautrin [free online]; 1840 (censors banned it)
  • Balzac, Honoré — The Girl with the Golden Eyes [free online] — Tragic story of a lesbian relationship; 1835
  • Bannon, Ann — Beebo Brinker — Four landmark “pulp” lesbian novels; 1957-62
  • Barnes, Djuna — Nightwood — Woman seeks a love “not yet in history;” 1936
  • Behn, Aphra — Oronooko [free online] — Influential early novel based on the life of an enslaved African prince whom Behn knew in Surinam (Behn, a bi woman, was one of the most immensely successful authors of her time); 1688
  • Bowen, Elizabeth — Death of the Heart — Lyrical, complex novel about a British teenage girl’s troubled coming of age; 1938
  • Bowles, Jane Auer — Two Serious Ladies — Two friends seek happiness in very different ways; 1943
  • Bowles, Paul — The Sheltering Sky — Love triangle among Americans in North Africa; 1949
  • Brophy, Brigid — In Transit — Experimental look at gender; 1969
  • Burroughs, William S — Naked Lunch — Surreal, paranoiac Beat Generation classic; 1959
  • Butler, Samuel — The Way of All Flesh [free online] — Autobiographical novel about coming of age in Victorian England; 1902
  • Caminha, Adolfo — Bom-Crioulo — Brazilian novel of interracial love affair between a sailor and cabin boy; 1895
  • Capote, Truman — Other Voices, Other Rooms — Growing up “different” in the (Gothic) South; 1948
  • Cather, Willa — My Ántonia [free online] — Courageous immigrants homesteading in late 19th c. Nebraska; 1918
  • Cather, Willa — Death Comes for the Archbishop — 40 years in the lives of two missionary priests in 19th c. American Southwest; 1927
  • Cheever, John — Wapshot Chronicle — A family and a town both falling apart; 1957
  • Colette — Claudine — Adventures of a young French lesbian; 1900
  • Compton-Burnett, I. — More Women than Men — Goings-on at a private all-girl school; 1933
  • Döblin, Alfred — Berlin Alexanderplatz — Experimental epic novel, and a landmark of German literature, about a 1920s ex-con trying to lead a decent life, and his relationships with a tender-hearted call girl and a charismatic criminal; 1929 — my essay on the novel and Fassbinder’s film version.
  • Douglas, Norman — South Wind [free online] — Island paradise, philosophical debates; 1917
  • Flaubert, Gustave — Sentimental Education [free online] — Ultimate novel of romantic frustration; 1869
  • Forster, E.M. — Howards End [free online] — Intertwined fates of two unforgettable English families; 1910
  • Forster, E.M. — Maurice [link to book resources; name pronounced MORR iss] — Young man challenges social, and personal, prejudice to find love; 1913
  • “Frederics, Diana” — Diana: A Strange Autobiography — Real author still unknown in this novel about a lesbian searching for fulfillment; 1939
  • Fuller, Henry Blake — Bertram Cope’s Year [free online] — Eligible bachelor pursued by both sexes; 1919
  • Genet, Jean — Our Lady of the Flowers — Hallucinatory masterpiece about crime and sainthood; 1942
  • Genet, Jean — The Thief’s Journal — Picaresque autobiographical novel; 1949
  • Gide, André — The Counterfeiters — Intriguing infidelities in two families; 1926
  • Gogol, Nikolai — Dead Souls [free online] – Satire about a fired civil servant turned con man who gallivants around early 19th C. Russia, trying to “better” himself; 1842
  • Goytisolo, Juan — Marks of Identity — Life in aftermath of Spanish Civil War; 1966
  • Hall, Radclyffe — The Well of Loneliness — Lesbian couple struggles for acceptance; 1928
  • Hartley, L.P. — The Go-Between — A young boy passes love letters between an aristocratic woman and a farmer, with unexpected consequences; 1953
  • Highsmith, Patricia — The Price of Salt [alternate title: Carol] — Young woman and a married mother fall in love; 1952
  • Himes, Chester — Yesterday Will Make You Cry — Life and love in 1930s Southern prison (unexpurgated ed.; orig. pub. as Cast the First Stone); 1955
  • Huysmans, Joris-Karl — Against the Grain [free online] — French Decadent classic, inspired Wilde; 1884
  • Isherwood, Christopher — Berlin Stories — Autobiographical tales of a gay Briton in pre-WW II Germany; 1939
  • Isherwood, Christopher — A Single Man — Masterpiece about one day in the life of a gay expatriate British professor in Los Angeles; 1964
  • James, Henry — The Bostonians [ free online] — Suffragists face many difficult choices; 1886
  • Jewett, Sarah Orne — Country of the Pointed Firs [free online] — Subtle stories about a young woman’s summer at a coastal Maine town; 1896
  • Kerouac, Jack — The Subterraneans — “Cleaned up” version of the author’s affair with Gore Vidal; 1958
  • Kipling, Rudyard — Kim [free online] — In India, orphaned son of an Irish soldier grows up on the mean streets of Lahore, then turns to spying for the Raj; 1901
  • Kuzmin, Mikhail — Wings — Astonishing Russian coming out novel; 1906!
  • Lagerlöf, Selma — The Story of Gösta Berling (aka Gösta Berling’s Saga) [free onlne] — A dashing young cavalier’s adventures, both realistic and supernatural, in 1820s Sweden; 1891 — first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature
  • Larsen, Nella — Passing — Black women confront racism and passion; 1929
  • Lawrence, D.H. — Women in Love [free online] — Complex, ambivalent gay content; 1920
  • Lezama Lima, Jose — Paradiso — Cuban mix of memoir, fiction, and poetry; 1966
  • Mann, Klaus — Pathetic Symphony — On Tchaikovsky, by Thomas Mann’s son; 1935
  • Mann, Thomas — Tonio Kröger [free online] — Latent homosexual artist comes of age; 1903
  • Mann, Thomas — Death in Venice [free online] — Author destroyed by obsession for boy; 1912
  • Mansfield, Katherine — Stories [free online] — Subtle, penetrating fiction from New Zealand author, including collections In a German Pension, 1911; The Garden Party, 1922 (Virginia Woolf revered Mansfield)
  • Maugham, Somerset — The Moon and Sixpence [free online] — Based onthe life of Paul Gaugin, a stockbroker flees to Tahiti to paint; 1919
  • McCullers, Carson — The Heart is a Lonely Hunter — Southern Gothic tale of love and loneliness in a small town; 1940
  • McCullers, Carson — The Member of the Wedding — Tomboy wants to fit in yet be herself; 1946
  • Meeker, Ralph — Better Angel — A young man’s sexual awakening; 1933
  • Melville, Herman — Moby Dick [free online] — Life, and various forms of same-sex love, on a doomed whaling ship; 1851
  • Melville, Herman — Billy Budd — Beautiful sailor and his sadistic nemesis; 1891
  • Miller, Isabel — Patience and Sarah — Based on historical 19th c. ‘married’ couple; 1967
  • Mishima, Yukio — Confessions of a Mask — Sinister coming out novel from Japan; 1949
  • Montherlant, Henry de — The Bachelors — Poignant tale of two formerly aristocratic bachelors, an elderly uncle and his nephew, now living in squalor; 1934
  • Murdoch, Iris — The Bell — Superb comedy/drama about a closeted gay man who founds a utopian lay religious community; 1958
  • Musil, Robert — Young Törless — Sadism at a German boarding school; 1906
  • Nabokov, Vladimir — Pale Fire — A novel in the form of revealing footnotes to a poem by a crazed gay writer; 1962
  • Nafzawi, Shaykh Umar ibn Muhammad — Glory of the Perfumed Garden: The Missing Flowers — Homoerotic sections of the medieval Arabic book that were suppressed in the famous 1886 translation by Richard Burton; orig. circa 1200, published 1975
  • Pater, Walter — Marius the Epicurean [free online] — Passionate friendships during the era of Emperor Marcus Aurelius; 1885
  • Prime-Stevenson, Edward (using pseudonym “Xavier Mayne”)— Imre [free online] — Relationship of an Englishman and a Hungarian soldier; one of the first openly gay American novels, and with an affirmative ending; 1906
  • Proust, Marcel — Remembrance of Things Past / In Search of Lost Time [free online Book One: Swann’s Way] — Sprawling, evocative modernist classic about memory and desire; 1922 [Proust Group, includes resources]
  • Rechy, John — City of Night — Young hustler plies his trade across the entire USA; 1963
  • Renault, Mary — The Last of the Wine — Relationship of two young Athenians during Peloponnesian War (Renault’s first novel set in the ancient world; name pronounced reh NAWLT 1956
  • Richardson, Dorothy M. — Pilgrimage [free online Pilgrimage, Volume 1: Pointed Roofs] — First stream of consciousness novel; lesbian author’s autobiographical fiction; 1915–1938
  • Richardson, Henry Handel — The Getting of Wisdom [free online] — Australian lesbian author’s coming of age tale set at a girl’s boarding school; 1910
  • Rule, Jane — Desert of the Heart — Groundbreaking novel of a lesbian relationship, set in 1950s Nevada; 1964 [my review of Donna Deitch’s classic film version, Desert Hearts, including comments on Rule’s novel]
  • Saba, Umberto — Ernesto — Italian bisexual man comes of age; 1953
  • Saikaku, Ihara — Great Mirror of Male Love — Courtly, misogynistic stories from Japan; 1684
  • Sand, George (Amantine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin) — Lélia [free online – original French] — A woman comes to question traditional views on men, love, and religion; 1833
  • Scott, Sarah — Millenium Hall [free online] — “Happily unmarried” women friends; 1762
  • Somerville, Edith & Violet Martin —The Real Charlotte [free online] — Intense relationship of two cousins; sometimes considered the finest 19th c. Irish novel; 1894 (written under the names E. Oe. (Edith Oenone) Somerville) & “Martin Ross”)
  • Staël, Madame de (Anne-Louise-Germaine) — Corinne; or Italy [free online] — Romantic tragedy of an Italian woman of genius and a noble Englishman; 1807
  • Stein, Gertrude — Three Lives [free online] — Powerful novellas about three working class women; 1909
  • Stein, Gertrude — Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas — Stein writes her own lover’s autobiography; 1933
  • Taylor, Bayard — Joseph and His Friend [free online] — Two young men seek happiness together; arguably the first American gay novel; 1870
  • Taylor, Valerie — The Girls in 3-B — Representative and fun lesbian pulp novel, about three young working women sharing a Chicago apartment; 1959
  • al-Tifashi, Ahmad — The Delight of Hearts — Arabic homoerotic poetry and stories; circa 1250
  • Vidal, Gore — The City and the Pillar — Gay man desperate to rekindle first love; 1948
  • Vidal, Gore — Julian — Epic, and witty, recreation of the life of Emperor Julian (331–363 A.D.) who tried to restore Classical civilization to the Roman Empire then being taken over by Christian zealots (who branded him “Julian the Apostate”); 1964
  • Vogel, Bruno — Alf — Two German boys in love pre-WW I; 1929
  • Walpole, Hugh — Herries Chronicles — Series of four best-selling historical novels set in 18th century Britain: Rogue Herries, Judith Paris, The Fortress, and Vanessa; 1930
  • Waugh, Evelyn — Brideshead Revisited — Two former lovers come to lead very different lives; 1945
  • Weirauch, Anna Elisabet — The Scorpion — Landmark German lesbian novel; 1919
  • Welch, Denton — In Youth is Pleasure — Coming of age tale by paraplegic author; 1945
  • Wilde, Oscar — Portrait of Mr. W.H. [free online] — About Shakespeare’s young lover – or is it?; 1889
  • Wilder, Thornton — Heaven’s My Destination — Exploits of a “holy fool” traveling salesman; 1935
  • Wilhelm, Gale — Torchlight in Valhalla — Daughter of a famous painter is torn between her love for a man and a young woman; 1938
  • Wilson, Angus — Hemlock and After — Gay writer’s problems with wife and lover; 1952
  • Woolf, Virginia — Mrs. Dalloway [free online] — Repressed hostess contemplates her life; 1925 (NOTE: entered the public domain in 2021)
  • Woolf, Virginia — To the Lighthouse — Two days, 10 years apart, in a family’s life; 1927
  • Yourcenar, Marguerite — Memoirs of Hadrian — Great Roman Emperor’s quest for truth, and love for a Greek youth; 1951
  • Yourcenar, Marguerite — The Abyss — Gay pre-Renaissance alchemist Zeno; 1968

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Good comedy aims upwards, satirizing pretension, unearned privilege, and obnoxiousness; it’s liberating. But its dehumanizing opposite – often using sexist, racist,or homophobic stereotypes – mocks and bullies so-called ‘underlings;’ it’s oppressive… but happily, that can change, sometimes aided by comedy’s power to reveal that the ’emperor’s new clothes’ are in fact an illusion, HaHa! For a quick comic fix, check out some Oscar Wilde quotes, either illustrated or with cites, including “The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!” (from The Importance of Being Earnest, Act One).

  • Albertalli, Becky – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda [alternate title: Love, Simon] – High school student’s romantic email to another guy falls into the wrong hands, complications ensue; 2015
  • Aretino, Pietro — The Stablemaster — Play – A gay servant tries to avoid marrying; 1533
  • Aristophanes — Lysistrata [free online] — Play – Women use a “sex strike” to force their men to end war; 411 BCE
  • Benson, E.F. — Make Way for Lucia — Collects the seven Lucia & Mapp novels, about the hilarious rivalry between two frenemies; 1920
  • Boyd, Blanche McCrary — Terminal Velocity — Southern belle joins ’70s lesbian commune, falls in love with a fugitive, goes on the lam; 1998
  • Chbosky, Stephen – The Perks of Being a Wallflower – An introverted teen navigates his freshman year of high school, in a Pittsburgh suburb, with honesty and quirky humor; 1999
  • Coward, Noel — Design for Living — Play – Sparklingly witty menage a trois; 1933
  • Dennis, Patrick (pseudonym of Edward Everett Tanner III) — Auntie Mame — Hilarious, crypto-gay original novel, source of the hit play, movie, and musical; 1955
  • Firbank, Ronald — The Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli — Flamboyant satire about the Church of England; 1926
  • Finn, William — Falsettos — Musical Play – A married man comes out, and must deal with the many consequences; 1992
  • Fitzhugh, Louise — Harriet the Spy — Young girl’s secret journal is revealed, in which she says exactly what she thinks about everyone – yikes!; 1964
  • Gogol, Nikolai — The Inspector General [free online] — Play – Corrupt small-town officials tricked by a con man; 1836
  • Greer, Andrew Sean – Less – Globe-trotting comedy about the misadventures of a failed gay novelist; 2017
  • Hamburger, Aaron — Faith For Beginners — Funny and moving experiences of a Michigan family on a tour of modern Israel; 2005
  • Hart, Moss & George S. Kaufman — You Can’t Take It With You — Play – A family of lovable eccentrics [Hart was gay/bi]; 1937
  • Jarry, Alfred — King Ubu — Play – about an insane monarch; the work which began Theater of the Absurd and helped define Surrealism; 1896
  • Kramer, Larry — Faggots — Still controversial, and very funny, satire; 1978
  • Lefcourt, Peter — The Dreyfus Affair — Love affair in major league baseball; 1992
  • Levithan, David – Boy Meets Boy – A high school sophomore meets a guy, loses the guy, and after a series of comic misadventures, does he get the guy?; 2003
  • Ludlam, Charles — The Mystery of Irma Vep — Play – Hilarious queer endup of Victorian melodrama; 1984
  • Manrique, Jaime — Latin Moon in Manhattan — Wild adventures of gay Colombian immigrant living in NYC; 1992
  • McCourt, James — Mawrdew Czgowchwz — Title character (pronounced ‘Mardu Gorgeous’), the opera world’s latest diva, fends off fans and rivals galore; 1971
  • McNally, Terrence — The Ritz — Play – Set in a bath house, with mobsters and drag queens; 1974
  • Merrick, Gordon — The Lord Won’t Mind — Groundbreaking best-selling melodrama about the lives, and loves, of two men who meet during World War II, trilogy continues in One for the Gods and Forth Into Light; 1970
  • Mordden, Ethan — I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore — First in a series of interconnected stories about the foibles of NYC gay life; 1983
  • Ness, Patrick – Release – A crazy, eventful day in the life of a high school student on summer vacation; 2017
  • Orton, Joe — What the Butler Saw — Play – Outrageous satire on British society; 1967
  • Petronius — Satyricon [free online] — Picaresque adventures of two randy young men, by Nero’s “Arbiter of Elegance,” may be the world’s first novel; 66 AD
  • Purdy, James — Malcolm — Satirical adventures of a young man of “exceptional beauty” (Edward Albee later wrote a stage adaptation); 1959
  • Ravel, Maurice (composer) & Colette (author) — L’Enfant et les Sortilèges — Opera – A spoiled brat finds the animals and objects he’s been abusing come to life; 1925
  • Rodi, Robert — Closet Case — Just you trying staying in that closet!; 1994
  • Rolfe, Frederick William (“Baron Corvo”) — Hadrian the Seventh [free online] — Expelled seminarian becomes Pope; 1904
  • Rudnick, Paul — Jeffrey — Play – Wry, romantic comedy set in the AIDS era; 1994
  • Schulman, Sarah — Empathy — Comic look at psychoanalysis and lesbian identity; 1992
  • Sedaris, David — Barrel Fever — Manic, hilarious pitch-black satires; 1994
  • Shakespeare — As You Like It [free online] — Play – With gender disguise, romantic entanglements, slapstick, poetry, much more (“All the world’s a stage”!); 1598
  • Silver, Nicky — Pterodactyls — Play – Caustically funny look at a picture-perfect family; 1994
  • Stein, Eugene — Straitjacket & Tie — Young man’s problems with coming out, a really boring job, and extra-terrestrials; 1996
  • Toole, John Kennedy — A Confederacy of Dunces — Raucous, tragicomic adventures of an ill-fated medievalist from New Orleans; 1966 (published posthumously in 1976)
  • Vidal, Gore — Myra Breckinridge — Mordant view of sex, movies & society, through the lens of a trans hero/ine; 1968
  • Wilde, Oscar — The Importance of Being Earnest [free online] — Play – Maybe the funniest comedy ever written, even as it dissects the meaning of identity and exposes the hypocrisies of Victorian society; 1895
  • Wilder, Thornton — The Skin of Our Teeth — Play – Surreal farce has the same characters appear in wildly different historical periods; 1942
  • Williamson, L.R. — Prairie Springs — A young woman and her gay best friend move from Manhattan to a zany little Texas town; very funny and moving; 2007
  • Wilmot, John (Earl of Rochester) — Sodom: The Quintessence of Debauchery — Play – Infamous satire in which a king mandates “buggery” for his subjects; ca. 1675
  • Wilson, Doric — Street Theatre — Play – Comic look at pre-Stonewall LGBTQ+ street life; 1969

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GENRES: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Suspense / Mystery / Adventure

SEE ALSO more extensive listing of LGBTQ+ Genre Literature

  • Andersen, Hans Christian — Fairy Tales [free online] — Fantasy – Gay author of such beloved, and disturbing, stories as “Princess and the Pea,” “Little Mermaid,” “Ugly Duckling,” “Thumbelina,” “Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Red Shoes,” and “Little Match Girl;” 1835
  • Barker, Clive — Imajica — Horror – Epic quest with gender-switching assassin; 1991
  • Barrie, James M. — Peter Pan [novel – free online] — Fantasy – Adventures of a boy who never grows up; 1904
  • Beckford, William — Vathek [free online] — Fantasy – Gothic, Arabian Nights-style adventure; 1786
  • Bram, Christopher — Hold Tight — Suspense – WW II thriller set in a gay NYC brothel; 1988
  • Brite, Poppy Z. — Drawing Blood — Horror – Two gay boys and many kinds of ghosts; 1993
  • Burroughs, William S — The Wild Boys — Science Fiction – Gay freedom fighters in fascist near future; 1971
  • Butler, Octavia E. — Kindred — Science Fiction – Modern black woman sent back in time to the antebellum South to save her white, slave-owning ancestor; 1979
  • Capote, Truman — In Cold Blood — Suspense – “True crime” novel of Midwestern murder; 1966
  • Carter, Angela — Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman — Science Fiction – Gay mad scientist alters the laws of space, time, and reality; 1972
  • Delany, Samuel R. — Triton — Science Fiction – Intergalactic quest for the Holy Grail; 1976
  • Du Maurier, Daphne — Rebecca — Suspense – Romantic thriller about the two Mrs. DeWinters, one of whom is dead; 1938
  • Gomez, Jewelle — Gilda Stories — Horror – African-American lesbian vampire; 1991
  • Hansen, Joseph — Fadeout — Suspense – First book in series about a gay investigator; 1970
  • Harris, Thomas — Silence of the Lambs — Suspense – Young woman FBI agent needs help of a sociopathic doctor to track a serial killer; 1988
  • Highsmith, Patricia — Strangers on a Train — Suspense – Gay villain plots “crisscrossed” murders; lesbian author also wrote classic Price of Salt; 1949 [my essay: Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock) shot-by-shot analysis of a sequence (1951), including a comparison with Patricia Highsmith’s original novel and the screenplay by Raymond Chandler and Czenzi Ormonde]
  • Jackson, Shirley — The Haunting of Hill House — Horror – Psychic investigators, at least one a lesbian, explore the ultimate evil haunted house; 1959
  • James, Henry — Turn of the Screw [free online] — Horror – Unnerving, multi-layered ghost story… or is it a tale of madness?; 1898
  • Kafka, Franz — Metamorphosis [free online] — Fantasy – Terrifying, metaphorical “coming out” story?; 1915
  • Kipling, Rudyard — The Jungle Book [free online] & The Second Jungle Book [free online] — Fantastical tales of a boy raised by animals in the forests of India; 1894 & 1895
  • LeFanu, J.S. — Carmilla [free online] — Horror – Lesbian vampire and her “victim;” 1872
  • Lewis, M.G. — The Monk [free online] — Horror – Infamous novel about a dissolute clergyman, defined Gothic horror; 1795
  • Lovecraft, H.P. — The Shadow Over Innsmouth [free online] — Horror – This great horror/science fiction novella can also be read as a weirdly affirmative coming out story; 1931
  • Maguire, Gregory — Wicked — Fantasy – The Wizard of Oz retold, for adults, from the fascinating perspective of the woman who grows up to become the Wicked Witch of the West; basis for the hit Broadway musical; 1995
  • McHugh, Maureen — China Mountain Zhang — Science Fiction – SF adventure with gay Chinese protagonist; 1992
  • Moriarty, Chris — Spin State — Science Fiction – Post-human spy thriller featuring a love story between a bi woman and a transgendered artificial intelligence; 2003
  • Nava, Michael — The Little Death — Suspense – First in outstanding series about gay Latino attorney; 1986
  • Ness, Patrick [Inspired by an idea from the late Siobhan Dowd] – A Monster Calls – An ancient monster appears to a young man, demanding the truth; 2015
  • Rice, Anne — Interview with the Vampire — Horror – Begins the Vampire Chronicles series with erotic GLB vampires, replete with mystery, romance, and much blood; 1976
  • Russ, Joanna — The Female Man — Science Fiction – A woman exists in four parallel worlds; 1975
  • Stoker, Bram — Dracula [free online] — Horror – Genre-defining vampire novel; 1897
  • Warner, Sylvia T. — Lolly Willowes [free online as OCR’d pages, now public domain] — Fantasy – Wonderful novel about a spinster who becomes a feminist witch; 1926
  • Wilde, Oscar — Picture of Dorian Gray [free online] — Horror – Terrible price of remaining ‘fabulous’ forever; 1890
  • Wister, Owen — The Virginian [free online] — This archetypal novel of the Old West is rich in homoerotic subtext; 1901
  • Woolf, Virginia — Orlando — Fantasy – S/he lives for centuries, changes genders; 1928

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  • Albee, Edward — Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — Two married couples strip away each other’s illusions; 1963
  • Behn, Aphra — The Rover [free online] — Adventures of a group of English Cavaliers in Madrid and Naples during the exile of (the future King) Charles II – for 150 years this remained the most often-performed play in the Western world; 1677
  • Bennett, Alan — The History Boys — Young men at an elite British school in the ’80s are caught between two very different teachers; 2004
  • Blitzstein, Marc — The Cradle Will Rock — Opera – political skullduggery in allegorical “Steeltown, USA”; 1936
  • Bowles, Jane Auer — In the Summer House — Tangled relationship of a mother and daughter; 1953
  • Brecht, Bertolt — Baal — A man’s pursuit of pleasure in all of its forms; 1918
  • Britten, Benjamin (composer) & Montagu Slater (author) — Peter Grimes — Opera – stunning musical/dramatic masterpiece about an outcast fisherman whose apprentices die mysteriously; 1944
  • Chambers, Jane — Last Summer at Bluefish Cove — Impact of a woman’s terminal cancer on her lifelong friends and lovers; 1980
  • Cocteau, Jean — The Infernal Machine — Magical retelling of Oedipus and Sphinx; 1932
  • Crowley, Mart — Boys in the Band — Compendium of gay stereotypes; 1968
  • Cruz, Nilo — Anna in the Tropics — Magical realist play about family of Cuban cigar makers in 1930 Florida; gay playwright is first Latino to win Pulitzer for Drama; 2002
  • Durang, Christopher — The Marriage of Bette and Boo — Tragi-comedy about a dysfunctional American family; 1973 (revised 1985)
  • Edson, Margaret — Wit — Feisty literature professor faces death with the aid of John Donne’s poetry; lesbian playwright won Pulitzer Prize; 1998
  • Euripides — The Bacchae [free online] — The god Dionysus exacts revenge on a puritanical king who refuses to worship him; 405 BC
  • Fierstein, Harvey — Torch Song Trilogy — Life of an indomitable drag queen; 1982
  • Genet, Jean — The Balcony — Surreal, horrific comedy set in a brothel; 1956
  • Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von — Faust [free online –translated by a great, little-known 19th C. gay author, Bayard Taylor] — Epic verse drama about a man who sells his soul for ultimate knowledge; with a gay Mephistopheles; 1832 (compare Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus [free online]; 1588)
  • Greenberg, Richard — Take Me Out — Travails of a gay major league baseball player; 2002
  • Hansberry, Lorraine — A Raisin in the Sun — Black lesbian playwright’s classic about a divided family; 1959
  • Inge, William — Picnic — Drifter unsettles a complacent Midwest town; 1953
  • Kelly, George — Craig’s Wife — A married woman is obsessed with her possessions; 1925
  • Kleist, Heinrich von — Penthesilea — Tragedy of Amazons fighting in Trojan War; 1807
  • Kramer, Larry — The Normal Heart — Fictionalized account of origins of GMHC – by celebrated author/activist who actually did found the group; 1985
  • Kushner, Tony — Angels in America — Epic two-part comedy/drama/fantasy about 1980s America; Part I: Millennium Approaches (1992) and Part II: Perestroika (1994)
  • Larson, Jonathan — Rent — Musical – NYC “Bohemian” life today; 1995
  • Laurents, Arthur, Stephen Sondheim & Leonard Bernstein — West Side Story — Musical – Update of Romeo and Juliet moved to the mean streets of then-contemporary Manhattan, with one of the greatest scores in theatre history; later a classic film; 1957
  • Lopez, Matthew – The Inheritance – In contemporary NYC, gay men explore their relationship to history, each other and themselves [play resources]; a reimagining of E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End [free online]; 2018
  • Marlowe, Christopher — Edward II [free online] — English king sacrifices all for his lover; 1594. Adapted by Brecht, 1923; filmed by Jarman, 1991
  • McNally, Terrence — Love! Valour! Compassion! — Gay friends sort out their lives on three holiday weekends at a country house; 1995
  • Menotti, Gian-Carlo — The Consul — Opera – Parable about refugees confronting a faceless bureaucracy; 1950
  • Mussorgsky, Modest — Boris Godunov — Opera – Musically and dramatically stunning epic about the 16th c. Russian tsar, with libretto and music by Mussorgsky; 1862
  • Patrick, Robert — Untold Decades — Seven one-acts on gay life throughout the 20th c.; 1988
  • Stoppard, Tom — The Invention of Love — Gay British poet A.E. Housman (A Shropshire Lad [free online]) looks back on his life in this dream-like play; 1997
  • Van Druten, John — Bell, Book and Candle — Romantic fantasy about a contemporary witch who falls in love with a mortal; 1950
  • Webster, John — Duchess of Malfi [free online] — Overwhelming tragic masterpiece; ca. 1611
  • Wilde, Oscar — Salomé [free online] — Feverish drama of princess’s lust for John the Baptist; 1893 (inspired by Flaubert’s story “Herodias” [free online] and adapted in 1905 as operatic masterpiece by composer Richard Strauss)
  • Wilder, Thornton — Our Town — Some of a small New Hampshire town’s secrets; 1938
  • Williams, Emlyn — Night Must Fall [free online] — About a baby-faced killer, this is one of the most influential thrillers ever written for the stage; 1935
  • Williams, Tennessee — Cat on a Hot Tin Roof — Homosexual loves, past and present; 1955
  • Wilson, Lanford — The Fifth of July — Disabled gay Vietnam vet, lover, & family; 1978
  • Wright, Doug — I Am My Own Wife — One actor plays many roles in Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of real-life German transvestite who survived both the Nazis and Communists; 2003

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LGBTQ+ poetry extends to the beginnings of civilization, and is found in all world cultures. Below is an overview of mostly Western poets (because of available translations), but other vital traditions include the Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese. The first anthology of same-sex poetry, with other forms of writing, is Ioläus: An Anthology of Friendship (1908) [free online], edited by Edward Carpenter. You will find an excellent selection of lesbian poets in Chloe Plus Olivia (1994), edited by Lillian Faderman; and for male poets, the Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature (1998 – outline), edited by Byrne R.S. Fone. NOTE: within each historical period, poets are arranged chronologically.

Ancient (before 500 BCE)

BABYLONIAN: Gilgamesh [my review of a new translation] (ca. 2,800 BCE), oldest surviving work of world literature and a profound gay love story. GREEK: Homer (8th c. BCE; Iliad with central bond of Achilles & Patroclus), Sappho [free online] (born 612? BCE).

Classical (500 BCE – 476 CE, Fall of the Western Roman Empire)

GREEK: Aeschylus (525 BCE – 456), Sophocles (496? BCE – 406), Euripides (480? BCE – 406) often treated same-sex themes, but those works were later destroyed by barbarians or the church; also Pindar [free online] (518 BCE – 438), Theocritus [free online] (308? BCE – 240). ROMAN: Catullus [free online] (84? BCE – 54), Virgil (70 BCE – 19; “Eclogue II” & Aeneid, Book IX), Horace (65 BCE – 8), Ovid (43 BCE – 17 CE; Metamorphoses [free online]), Martial (40 CE – 104), Juvenal (55 CE – 140).

Dark Ages / Medieval (476 – 1453, Fall of the Eastern Roman Empire)

ARABIC: Ahmad al-Tifashi. OLD ENGLISH: Beowulf [free online] (8th c.; relationship of Hrothgar & Beowulf). GERMAN: Hildegard of Bingen. FRENCH-NORMAN: Epics, including Song of Roland [free online] (11th c.), Lancelot-Grail (Galehaut & Lancelot). Lyric poetry from many countries. Passages in Dante (1265 – 1321; Inferno Cantos 11, 14 & 15; Purgatorio Canto 26), Chaucer (1340? – 1400; Canterbury Tales).

Renaissance & Baroque

ITALIAN: Michelangelo (1475 – 1564; Sonnets [free online]), Torquato Tasso (1544 – 1595). BRITISH: Edmund Spenser (1552 – 1599), Sir Philip Sidney (1554 – 1586), Christopher Marlowe (1564 – 1593), Shakespeare (1564 – 1616; Sonnets [free online]), Richard Barnfield (1574 – 1627), Katherine Philips (1632 – 1664), Aphra Behn (1640? – 1689). FRENCH: Théophile de Viau (1590 – 1626), Denis Sanguin de Saint-Pavin (1595 – 1670). MEXICAN: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648 – 1695).

18th & 19th Centuries

GERMAN: Friedrich Hölderlin, Heinrich von Kleist, August von Platen. BRITISH: Lord Byron, Edward Fitzgerald, Thomas Gray, Edward Lear, Alexander Pope, Christina Rossetti, Anna Seward, Algernon Charles Swinburne, John Addington Symonds, Oscar Wilde. AMERICAN: Emily Dickinson, Bayard Taylor, Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass [free online], esp. “Calamus” section [resources]). FRENCH: Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud (A Season in Hell), Paul Verlaine.

Early to Mid-20th Century

AMERICAN: Elizabeth Bishop, Countee Cullen, Hart Crane, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land [free online]), Langston Hughes, Amy Lowell, Edna Saint Vincent Millay, George Santayana, Gertrude Stein (Tender Buttons [free online]). BRITISH: W.H. Auden, Gerard Manley Hopkins, A.E. Housman (A Shropshire Lad [free online]), Rudyard Kipling, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Edith Sitwell, Stephen Spender. CHILEAN: Gabriela Mistral. FRENCH: Jean Cocteau, René Crevel, Jean Genet, Lautréamont, Renée Vivien. GERMAN: Stefan George, Bertolt Brecht. GREEK: Constantine Cavafy, Napoleon Lapathiotis. ITALIAN: Sandro Penna, Pier Paolo Pasolini. PORTUGUESE: Fernando Pessoa. RUSSIAN: Nikolai Klyuev, Sergei Esenin, Mikhail Kusmin, Sophia Parnok, Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva. SOUTH AFRICAN: William Plomer. SPANISH: Luis Cernuda, Federico García Lorca.


AMERICAN: Paula Gunn Allen, John Ashbery, Joe Brainard, Donald Britton, Jericho Brown, Olga Broumas, Cheryl Clarke, Mark Doty, Robert Duncan, Edward Field, Allen Ginsberg, Judy Grahn, Marilyn Hacker, Essex Hemphill, bell hooks, Richard Howard, Maurice Kenny, Audre Lorde, J.D. McClatchy, James Merrill, Paul Monette, Cherríe Moraga, Pauli Murray [resources], Ifti Nasim, Mary Oliver, Robert Patrick, Adrienne Rich, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Ocean Vuong, Jacqueline Woodson. BRITISH: Carol Ann Duffy, Thom Gunn. JAPANESE: Mutsuo Takahashi. MEXICAN: Nancy Cárdenas.

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  • Ackerley, J.R. — My Father and Myself — Examines complicated relationship with his family and British society; 1968
  • Allen, Paula Gunn – The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions – explores the central role of women, including political leadership, in many Native American cultures; 1986
  • Anzaldúa, Gloria — Borderlands = La Frontera — US and Mexican cultures, genders, selves; 1987
  • Arenas, Reinaldo — Before Night Falls — Memoir of gay life in Cuba before and during Castro regime; 1993
  • Bacon, Francis — The Essays, Civil and Moral [free online] — Essays on many topics by the great English philosopher, statesman, jurist, and literary stylist, who also helped originate the scientific method of problem solving; 1625
  • Bagemihl, Bruce — Biological Exuberance — Same-sex traits in the animal world, and natural diversity; 1999
  • Barthes, Roland — S/Z — Provocative analysis of Balzac’s 1830 transgender-themed story Sarrasine [free online]; 1970
  • Bashô, Matsuo — Narrow Road to the Deep North — Beautiful, meditative Japanese travel diary written alternately in prose and poetry; 1694
  • Boswell, John — Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality — Revelatory study of gay people in Western Europe from late Roman Empire to the 14th c.; 1980
  • Butler, Judith P. — Gender Trouble — Controversial study argues that gender identity is fluid, changing in different contexts; 1990
  • Caesar, Julius — Commentaries on the Gallic Wars [free online] — The extraordinary bisexual Roman general – and later dictator – recounts how he conquered Gaul (later called France); 52 BCE
  • Carpenter, Edward, ed. — Ioläus: An Anthology of Friendship [free online] — Superb same-sex anthology, from antiquity to Whitman, by LGBTQ+ rights pioneer; 1902
  • Cixous, Hélène — The Book of Promethea — Feminist reinterpretation of myth; 1983
  • Cocteau, Jean — The White Book (Le Livre Blanc) — Unique celebration of being gay; 1928
  • Cook, Blanche Wiesen — Eleanor Roosevelt — Multi-volume biography of humanitarian, and bi, First Lady; 1993
  • Crompton, Louis — Byron and Greek Love — Homophobia in 19th c. England; 1985
  • Doty, Mark — Heaven’s Coast — Memoir of his lover’s death from AIDS; 1996
  • Duberman, Martin — Stonewall — Lives of six people who participated; 1993
  • Duberman, Martin; et al. — Hidden from History — Fascinating essays on LGBTQs throughout both world and US history; 1990
  • Eliot, T.S. — The Sacred Wood [free online] — Eliot’s theories about literature, including “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” are as influential as his poetry; 1920
  • Ellmann, Richard — Oscar Wilde — Definitive biography, and cultural history; 1988
  • Faderman, Lillian — Surpassing the Love of Men — Female romantic friendship, and lesbian life, from the Renaissance to the present; 1981
  • Faderman, Lillian — Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers — Lesbian life in 20th c. America; 1991
  • Fischer, Erica — Aimee & Jaguar: A Love Story — In 1943 Berlin, a Nazi’s wife and a fugitive Jewish woman fall in love; 1998
  • Foster, Jeanette Howard — Sex Variant Women in Literature — Landmark study of lesbian, bi and trans women in over 300 literary works, from Sappho to the mid 20th century; 1956
  • Foucault, Michel — History of Sexuality — On the fluid nature of human desire; 1976
  • Frank, Anne — Diary of a Young Girl (complete edition) — Uncensored text includes Anne’s same-sex feelings; 1997 (ed. O. Frank & M. Pressler)
  • hooks, bell – Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism – Explores connections between race, genders, and class; 1981
  • Humboldt, Alexander von – Cosmos: A Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe [free online] – groundbreaking work by the gay German scientist and explorer who sought to unify diverse branches of scientific knowledge and culture; 1845–1862.
  • Isay, Richard A. — Being Homosexual & Becoming Gay — Two books by insightful gay psychotherapist; 1989
  • Isherwood, Christopher — Christopher and His Kind: 1929–1939 — Memoir of experiences before emigrating to the United States; 1976
  • Johnston, Jill — Lesbian Nation — Classic about lesbian/feminist identity, written in experimental style; 1973
  • Katz, Jonathan Ned — Gay American History — 400 years of LGBTQ+ experience in America, revealed through original historical documents; 1976
  • Koestenbaum, Wayne — The Queen’s Throat — Study of opera, homosexuality and “the mystery of desire;” 1993
  • Lawrence, D.H. — Studies in Classic American Literature [free online] — Still-provocative exploration of U.S. literary history, from colonial works through canonical 19th c. authors (many of whom were LGBTQ+); 1923
  • Lawrence, T.E. — Seven Pillars of Wisdom [free online – now public domain] — Memoir by “Lawrence of Arabia;” 1926
  • Leduc, Violette — La Batarde — Passionate, stylistically original autobiography; 1964
  • Lister, Anne — Journal — 19th c. lesbian explores her true self; d. 1840
  • Lorde, Audre — Zami: A New Spelling of My Name — African-American “biomythography;” 1982
  • Lovecraft, H.P. — Supernatural Horror in Literature [free online] — Landmark study of the genre by perhaps the greatest horror author; 1927
  • Mann, William J. — Behind the Screen — Landmark history of how gay men and lesbians shaped Hollywood between 1910 and 1969; 2001
  • Marcuse, Herbert — Eros and Civilization — Far-ranging critique of societal repression; 1955
  • Matthiessen, F.O. — American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman — Exploration of five mid-19th c. U.S. authors (Whitman, Melville, Thoreau – and possibly Hawthorne – were gay/bi), created the field of American Studies; 1941
  • McCourt, James — Queer Street — Part memoir, part phantasmagoria, an imaginative history of gay life 1947–1985 which “channels” T.S. Eliot, James Baldwin, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal; 2003
  • Mead, Margaret — Coming of Age in Samoa — Landmark study of adolescence and sexual behavior in “primitive” cultures; 1928
  • Miller, Neil — In Search of Gay America — GLBTs from across the USA, in farmlands, small towns, suburbs, & cities; 1989
  • Monette, Paul — Becoming a Man — Searing memoir of how the author came out, and finally learned to love; 1992
  • Moraga – Native Country of the Heart, a Memoir – Relationship of a lesbian Latina author/activist and her mother who has Alzheimer’s [book resources]; 2019
  • Mordden, Ethan — Broadway Babies: The People Who Made the American Musical — Toe-tapping introduction to the history of the Broadway musical – Mordden has also written a decade-by-decade history of musicals from the 1920s to today; 1988
  • Murray, Pauli – Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage – Autobiography of the trailblazing Black nonbinary civil rights and gender equality activist, lawyer, poet, priest, whose influence continues to grow exponentially; 1989
  • Murray, Stephen O. & Will Roscoe — Boy-Wives and Female Husbands: Studies in African Homosexualities [my review] — Groundbreaking collection of anthropological, historical, and sociopolitical studies focused on same-sex relationships in Africa, including woman–woman marriages, alternative gender identities, GLBTs in modern African societies and literature, more; 2001
  • Nicolson, Nigel — Portrait of a Marriage — Revealing portrayal of the politician author’s bisexual mother Vita Sackville West (book includes her Diary), and bisexual father; 1973
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm — Thus Spake Zarathustra [free online] — Believed the ideal human could direct passions creatively instead of suppressing them; 1883
  • Nin, Anaïs — Henry and June — Nin’s relationship with author Henry Miller and his wife in 1931-32, culled from uncensored version of her sprawling memoirs; 1986
  • Packard, Chris — Queer Cowboys [my review] — Illuminating study of same-sex relationships in the nineteenth century American frontier, drawing on literary, non-fiction, and visual sources; 2005
  • Pater, Walter — The Renaissance [free online] — Groundbreaking study of art and poetry, also introduced influential “Art for Art’s sake” concepts of Aestheticism and Decadence; 1873
  • Plato — Symposium [free online] — Socrates & co. drink wine, discuss love… and flirt; 350 BC (compare Xenophon’s Symposium [free online])
  • Plutarch — Lives of Noble Greeks & Romans [free online] — Including gay/bi leaders Lycurgus, Solon, Agesilaus, Alexander the Great, Pelopidas (Sacred Band of Thebes); 100 AD
  • Quinn, Susan – Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady — decades-long relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok; 2016
  • Russo, Vito — Celluloid Closet — GLBTs in Hollywood on- and off-screen; 1981
  • Santayana, George — The Life of Reason [free online] — The importance, and pleasure, of enlightened instinct; by the gay Spanish-American philosopher, poet, novelist, and critic; 1905
  • Sarton, May — Journal of a Solitude — Joy and fear of living alone; 1977
  • Saslow, James M. — Pictures & Passions — History of homosexuality in the visual arts; 1999
  • Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky — Between Men — English Literature and same-sex desire; 1985
  • Shilts, Randy — Conduct Unbecoming — Epic history of LGBTs in the military; 1993
  • Sontag, Susan — AIDS & Its Metaphors — On cultural mythologies surrounding AIDS; a complement to Illness as Metaphor; 1989
  • Stoddard, Charles Warren — South-Sea Idyls [free online] — Subtly homoerotic adventures in Polynesia; 1873
  • Strachey, Lytton — Eminent Victorians [free online] — This first “camp” biography, skewers the hypocrisies of Victorian England; 1918
  • Summers, Claude J., ed. — Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage — Indispensable! 350 entries on LGBTQ authors, genres, & national literatures; 1995
  • Symonds, John Addington — Memoirs — By a pioneer in same-sex rights, this is also the first gay male autobiography; 1893
  • Thoreau, Henry David — Walden [free online] — Provocative meditations on nature, society, and personal freedom; 1854
  • Thucydides — The Peloponnesian War [free online] — Long, bloody war between the rival Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta (first great work of history); 431 BC
  • Tripp, C.A. — The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln — Controversial biography explores, and documents, Lincoln’s bisexuality; 2004
  • Vanita, Ruth & Saleem Kidwai — Same-Sex Love in India — Anthology of literature and history spans 2,000 years, representing Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and modern traditions; 2000
  • Whitman, Walt — Specimen Days [free online] — The great poet’s visionary autobiography; 1882
  • Wilde, Oscar — Intentions [free online] — Still-provocative essays, Including “The Decay of Lying” and “The Critic as Artist;” 1891
  • Williams, Walter L. — The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture — Native American same-sex traditions, including the berdache; 1986
  • Woolf, Virginia — A Room of One’s Own — Landmark essay on women, art, and society; 1929
LGBTQ+ Literature

Begun 1997 (this was the core page of the original site) / Updated April 1, 2022

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