Fun in the Sun :: The LGBT Summer Reading List
There’s no time like the summertime. The gay nightlife is unbeatable, the weather perfect, hot guys shed their clothes and the warm sands of the beach call.
Summer is also a great time to catch up on that neglected reading list, working on that tan at the beach or soaking up some rays poolside. The hardest part about summer reading: Trying to decide which books to squeeze into your schedule. Here’s a list of ten LGBT-themed books that every reader should consider reading this summer season - all available at your local bookseller. And please, patronize your local bookstores!
This debut novel by Puerto Rican author Charles Rice-González follows the lead character, Chulito, through his Bronx neighborhood in which he struggles with coming out and falling in love. Don’t let the cover fool you, Chulito deals with serious issues such as the drug trade, poverty and homophobic violence. At the same time however, the novel is a perfect beach read because it is super sexy and fun. Chulito shows how coming out and the pressures of manhood can be difficult for gay youths, especially if they are young and of color. In the end, Chulito must decide what he wants more, a less difficult but closeted life, or one that includes his childhood friend and crush, Carlos.
The Color Purple
Alice Walker’s masterpiece, "The Color Purple," won both a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. It is one of the only bisexual-themed novels to make it big in the mainstream. The novel reads like a diary and consists of a series of letters between the main character, Celie and her sister Nettie. Celie is brought up by a violent, sexually abusive father, then married off to an equally abusive man referred to only as "Mr." Celie encounters a sexy and confident woman named Shug while still married to Mr., who guides her, helping to heal her from the years of abuse. The sex scene between the two women is beautifully done and as one of the few bisexual novels out there, "The Color Purple" is a definite must.
Sri Lankan Author Shyam Selvadurai takes readers on a journey to his childhood home in which a civil war is brewing. The novel is told through the eyes of Arjie, a young boy who loves all things feminine. He struggles at his all-boys prep school with his budding sexuality and his disapproving father, older brother and classmates. As the ethnic violence escalates, so do Arjie’s personal conflicts when he finds himself in love with his classmate Sheehan. "Funny Boy" is a fun, easy read and provides a great international perspective on LGBT issues.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
Audre Lorde is one of the most famous lesbian writers in the U.S., known best for writing poetry. Zami provides readers with a fictionalized glimpse into her life, following Lorde from her childhood in New York to her adulthood. A time when she is beginning to discover-and act on-her desire for other women. Lorde’s "biomythography," as she termed it, provides a rare glimpse into lesbian life in New York City during the 1950s. One of the book’s most striking features is Lorde’s refusal to fit into easy boxes, insisting that she is a Black lesbian and never simply "just a woman" or "just Black." Though not necessarily a beach read, Zami is an absorbing story worth the perusal!
For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Not Enough
Keith Boykin’s new anthology is a series of non-fiction stories and poems by gay male writers, dealing with issues of HIV, faith, coming out, sexual abuse and activism.
The cool thing about "For Colored Boys" is that it allows readers to experience a wide-ranging view of what it means to be gay in the 21st Century. This compilation is the first of its kind to gather stories and poems from gay men with such a wide variety of backgrounds. It is a must for anyone interested in the issues confronting young gay men today.
Chicano writer Rigoberto González’s first memoir, "Butterfly Boy," is a biting look at the relationship between gay sons and their fathers.
The chronicle follows González as he and his family travel between Mexico and California in their attempts to scratch out a living in the agricultural fields of both countries. González spares no detail in regard to his sexual romps with strange men, boyfriends and childhood friends, making the memoir a sexy read while at the same time dealing with very serious issues.
Emma Pérez’s debut novel is a story of unrequited love, which begins with an innocent crush the nameless narrator develops on her sister’s friend. "Gulf Dreams" follows the narrator through adulthood as she pursues her love interest, despite the fact that the other woman marries an abusive man. The story covers heavy topics such as racism and rape, but is beautifully written and poetic and should be on every reader’s reading list.
The Woman Who Owned the Shadows
Paula Gunn Allen’s first and only novel is one of a handful of books written about and by a Native American lesbian. What makes the book unique is that Allen does not depict a single lesbian sex scene in the novel, nor does her main character, Ephanie, have a lesbian relationship.
Rather, "The Woman Who Owned the Shadows" is about a thwarted sexuality. Readers follow Ephanie through childhood and into one of her defining moments, a time in her early teens when she nearly falls in love with a childhood friend and is subsequently forbidden from seeing her again. This stifling of sexuality, along with the racism Ephanie endures, makes for a complicated but fascinating read!
Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape
This fantastic anthology is a collection of essays by LGBT and straight writers who discuss sexual freedom, health and consent.
Though not exclusively queer, the stories and analysis found in the anthology are pertinent to LGBT communities. Similarly, because of its inclusion of queer voices, "Yes Means Yes" is one of the best books on the topic. The writing is excellent and the stories are extremely moving. This anthology belongs on every shelf!
Emanuel Xavier brings us deep into the New York gay club scene of the 1990s with this fabulous novel.
The story follows Mikey from childhood through adulthood, as he deals with abuse, works in the drug and sex trade, battles against homophobia and faces his inner demons. This novel is a great read because it presents complicated characters for the book lover to contend with.
The novel deals with heavy topics, but is very much worth the read as it sheds light on addiction, prostitution, child rape and HIV-topics often swept under the rug.
Enjoy summer reading as you soak up California’s rays, but remember your sunscreen and try not to get burned!