More often than not, the words in a book can open our eyes to different people and ways of life other forms of entertainment cannot. The lack of pictures truly forces our minds to consider, imagine, and project ourselves into situations our day-to-day lives don’t normally present. As such, we come to learn and possibly—nay, hopefully—come to empathize with those we would otherwise not. The selections ahead fall into a category that is, in and of itself, made up: LGBTQ. Queer-centric stories—whether fiction or non—get lumped into their own category, and as such, many stories go unread. Many great stories. The following list highlights 25 essential LGBTQ stories that present the queer experience as a diverse and well-rounded one. No matter your sexual identity, these stories will entertain and educate. A Pride Month special that’s good year-round.
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Playwright Tony Kushner's monumental piece of theater (and TV mini-series) documents the lives of separate but connected individuals as they navigate their way through the mid-'80s during the AIDS crisis. It's hefty, but important. Incredibly important.
Hollywood's relationship with homosexuality and queerness is a tricky and often messy one. Russo's investigation into its codes and the reasons many queers in Hollywood don't come out is shocking. What's more: Despite it being written in 1981, the themes still persist today.
The ex-lover (Giovanni) of a gay American in Paris is on the execution block. His lover, the narrator, reflects on their relationship—among other relations he's had in The City of Light. Written in 1956, Baldwin's exploration of fluid sexuality was unheardof at the time.
Cunningham weaves together three stories from three different time periods. Using the last days of Virginia Woolf's life, he weaves together a compelling narrative of characters who years for rewarding lives, but feel trapped by despair and lost love.
Like Angels In America, Kramer's Normal Heart is important. It documents the playwright's quest for equal rights during the AIDS crisis in New York City. His activism shines in the autobiographical work, and highlights the ignorance and fear of the time when many opted to ignore an epidemic that was killing friends and family.
Growing up, Bobby Griffith was taught, by both his family and religion, that homosexuality was bad. Here, his mother recounts the years she experienced with her son before he ultimately took his own life, and what happened to her after.
What you learn in The Celluloid Closet is that most queer characters in the media were either evil, prone to dying, or both. Here, Highsmith creates a happy story of a lesbian couple that shattered the trope Hollywood tried make into a bonafide thing.
You can pretty much guess what you're getting into when you read a book whose title is slang for female genitalia. Brown's semi-autobiographical story is a lesbian coming-of-age story in America. And an aggressive one at that.
Three liberal arts students with penchants for casual sex, partying, and drugs become entangled in a messy love triangle. The lines of sexuality become blurred, and all those cliché, existential questions come out in full force and smack you upside the head. The rules suck, but they've gotta be learned somehow.
Downs uses stories from his doctoral practice as a starting point to get a conversation started about what it means to be gay in a predominantly straight world. Over the years, it's become a bible of sorts for gay men, but also a fabulous book for those looking to be allies.