20 Books That Changed The Way We Felt About Ourselves As LGBT People

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GAY BOOK

It’s in literature that true life can be found,” Nobel Prize-winning author Gao Xingjian was once quoted as saying.

The Chinese novelist and playwright may not have been speaking directly to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, but to those of us in the community, he might as well have been. Widespread representation of LGBT life in literature was present well before Hollywood came to embrace it; scribes like Leslie Feinberg andDavid Sedaris have been making us laugh, cry and feel all the feelings for decades — and who could ever forget their first encounter with Armistead Maupin or Oscar Wilde?

We asked our readers to name the books that shaped the way they felt about themselves as LGBT people. While this is by no means a definitive literary list, the responses we received on Facebook and Twitter reflect the community’s wit, strength and overall diversity.

Take a look at 20 books that changed the way we felt about ourselves as LGBT people below.

  • TALES OF THE CITY by Armistead Maupin
    Amazon
    “When I discovered Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, I knew in my heart that it was time to go out into the world and be the man I was born to be and truly live life. His stories are a blessing to us all.” –Chad Thompson, Facebook
  • STONE BUTCH BLUES by Leslie Feinberg
    Amazon
    “…Not because I identify as stone butch, but because it taught me about our history, how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go.” — Charli Brown, Facebook
  • THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP by John Irving
    “I hadn’t ever seen or read about a trans character who was accepted with love.” –Daya Curley, Twitter
  • MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides
    Amazon
    “Amazing!” — Zoe Brinnand, Facebook
  • THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde
    Amazon
    — Julian Damiani, Facebook
  • ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris
    “[David Sedaris] just slayed me. I never laughed so hard in my life.” — Todd Vaughn Wright, Facebook
  • RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE by Rita Mae Brown
    Amazon
    — Sonya Race, Facebook
  • THE BEST LITTLE BOY IN THE WORLD, by Andrew Tobias
    Amazon
    “Read it in the stacks at NYU as a freshman in 1978.” — Tom Judson, Twitter
  • COMING OUT: AN ACT OF LOVE by Rob Eichberg
    Amazon
    “Twenty years ago, I bought Rob Eichberg’s Coming Out: An Act of Love. I had thought I was about to ruin my life by coming out, but with this book (which I relied on for a few years, as well as with the help of a counselor), I somehow made it through. I kept the book as a reminder never to live a lie again or be so afraid.” — Laurie Dominick, Facebook
  • MAN ALIVE by Thomas Page McBee
    Amazon
    “So many, but Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee helped give me courage and language for who I am.” — Emmett Findley, Twitter
  • GAY SOUL by Mark Thompson
    Amazon
    “It taught me that we are a unique tribe, but that sexuality was only one facet of who I really am.” — Preston McKinley, Facebook
  • STRANGER AT THE GATE by Mel White
    Amazon
    “The book that stands out most for me was a book I gave my conservative Christian parents that helped them accept my being gay: Stranger at the Gate by Mel White.” –Steve Cooper, Facebook
  • THE BOY WHO PICKED THE BULLETS UP by Charles Nelson
    “So many great bueer books out there, but Charles Nelson’s The Boy Who Picked the Bullets Up is my underrepresented favorite.” –Joe, Twitter
  • BECOMING A MAN: HALF A LIFE STORY by Paul Monette
    Barnes and Noble
    Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette caused me to re-examine my past (especially my childhood), and I was astonished to find just how much my life and my relationships had been affected by being closeted for so long. Suddenly so many things make so much more sense.” –Christopher Twyman, Facebook
  • THE FRONT RUNNER by Patricia Nell Warren
    Amazon
    “[This book] and Gordon Merrick’s works made me believe I could have the world: career success, great friends, and true love.” — Gerald Stover, Facebook
  • LIKE PEOPLE IN HISTORY: A GAY AMERICAN EPIC by Felice Picano
    “The book that changed my soul.” — Todd Vaughan Wright, Facebook
  • OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS by Truman Capote
    Amazon
    — Don Levy, Facebook
  • THE SOUL BENEATH THE SKIN by David Nimmons
    Amazon
    “Nimmons inspired me to ‘be the change.'” — Nick Sabatasso, Facebook
  • BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan
    Amazon
    “David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy was the first LGBT book I ever read and it’s stuck with me all these years.” –Peter Wright, Facebook
  • THE SWIMMING POOL LIBRARY by Alan Hollinghurst
    Amazon
    — Sasha Quentin, Facebook
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