Summer Escapades : A Queer Booklist
1. Stone Butch Blues (1993, contemporary fiction)
Leslie Feinberg (1949-2014)
Trigger warnings : homophobia, transphobia, rape, self-harm
"Stone Butch Blues" is a partially fiction novel that takes heavy inspiration from the author’s life. It follows the life of Jess Goldberg, a butch lesbian born in Buffalo, New York in the 1940’s. Jess grows up in a conservative, working-class family. Frustrated with her struggles with gender nonconformity, Jess’s parents send her to a psychiatric ward for three weeks, where she starts asking herself more Her life really begins as she hits puberty and starts exploring more of her identity. Meeting drag queens, butches, and femmes, exploring her own gender identity and sexual orientation through friendships and love relationships, she faces her doubts and finds support in her community for every traumatic experiences she might live through. The book explores Jess's struggles with gender identity, love, and acceptance in a society that marginalizes those who don't conform to traditional gender roles.
Leslie Feinberg was a transgender activist, author, and speaker. Ze identified as genderqueer and used both she/her and ze/hir pronouns. She sadly passed away from Lyme disease in 2014.
2. Patricia wants to cuddle (2022, comedy-horror fiction)
Samantha Leigh Allen
Trigger warnings : substance abuse, emotional trauma
Taking part into a reality-TV show, four women arrive on a mysterious island in the Pacific Northwest, ready to fight their way for a bachelor's heart and for a chance to find true love. As they perform for the cameras, they catch the attention of Patricia, a misunderstood and mysterious local living in the woods, appart from the rest of the world. When they finally meet, the cast and crew must survive the night on the island's desolate peak.
This whirlwind romp is a scathing critique of American media culture while also being a love story between star-crossed lesbians, a woman finding herself, and a chosen family of island misfits forging community against all odds.
Samatha Leigh Allen grew up in New Jersey, in a conservative Mormon community. She officially left her past behind in 2008, and came out as a transgender woman in 2012. She has a Ph.D. in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, along with a certificate in Psychoanalytic Studies from Emory University. She also wrote "Real Queer America: LGBT Stories From Red States", published in 2019.
3. How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir (2019, nonfiction)
Saeed Jones (1985)
Trigger warning : racism, suicide
Saeed Jones's memoir, "How We Fight for Our Lives," is a powerful and essential read that chronicles the journey of a young, black, gay man from the conservative South of the US. Through a series of short vignettes, Jones takes us on a profound exploration of his boyhood and adolescence, delving into his tumultuous relationships with family, lovers, friends, and strangers. The memoir touches themes of race, queerness, power, vulnerability, love, and grief, offering a relatable and honest portrayal of the struggles faced in finding one's true identity. On top of that, his poetic writing style offers a dive into
Born in 1985 in Memphis, Tennessee, US, Saeed Jones stands out in the landscape of Authors with his poetic, enchanting style of writing. He started his writing career with Poems, and also published his first full-length poetry collection, Prelude to Bruise in 2014.
4. Giovanni's Room (1956)
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
Trigger warnings: LGBTQIA+phobia, racism, toxic relationship
This classic novel is set in 1950s Paris. Telling the story of David, an American expatriate, who grapples with his bisexuality and his feelings for Giovanni, an Italian bartender who’s future is already doomed. The novel is a powerful exploration of love, identity, and societal expectations, especially when taking into account the context and epoch in which it was written, at the height of discrimination and racism in America, which lead the author to flee to France.
James Baldwin was a renowned African American writer, playwright, and social critic, who was also openly gay. His other works include Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), Just Above My Head (1979), along with dozens of essays on topics varying from Gay Rights to Racism, Gender Equality and Criticism of Social Constructs, all published between 1955 and 1984.
5. Testo Junkie (2008, Essay, nonfiction)
Paul B. Preciado (1970)
Trigger warnings : gender dysphoria, substance abuse
In his book, Preciado recounts his experience self-administering testosterone gel called Testogel29. Both political and performative, this act aims to dismantle the gender inscribed within his body by a system of controlling sexuality and contraception. Preciado describes and analyzes the changes induced by testosterone through the lens of his love affair with French writer Virginie Despentes. It serves as a political history of body-altering substances, including contraceptive pills, Viagra, doping products, Prozac, clinical androgens, and estrogens. The book offers profound reflections on gender identity and physical transformation, intertwining personal experiences with broader political and cultural contexts.
Paul B. Precadio is a trans Spanish writer, philosopher and curator working on various topics such as gender dysphoria and pornography. Beyond his literary contributions, Preciado is an outspoken activist who has dedicated himself to advocating for the rights and visibility of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, making him a pivotal figure in contemporary queer theory and intellectual thought.
6. When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love and Revolution (2011, nonfiction)
Jeanne Córdova (1948-2016)
Trigger warnings: LGBTQIA+phobia, loss and grief
"When We Were Outlaws" is a sweeping, raw and intimate memoir that offers a rare glimpse into the life of the author’s life, activist Jeanne Córdova during the 1970s, a time of cultural struggle for gay rights, Women's Liberation, and the New Left. Brash and ambitious, Jeanne finds herself torn between her personal longings and her passionate beliefs in changing the world and fighting discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Jeanne Córdova was a prominent lesbian activist, journalist, and author. She founded The Lesbian Tide, and participated in creating the West Coast LGBT movement. Córdova was also second-wave feminist lesbian activist and proud butch.
7. The Gilda Stories (1991, fantasy fiction)
Jewelle Gomez (1948)
Trigger warnings: gore, violence, homophobia, suicide, self-harm, substance abuse, addiction, racism
Following the life of Gilda, an African American lesbian vampire, as she explores themes of identity, love, and the search for community and acceptance. As this vampire novel takes place over several centuries (from the 1850’s to the dystopian 2050’s), we are bound to retrace the evolution of black people’s rights as well as queer rights. Both horrific and comedic, this book is one hell of a ride, and one hell of a laugh as well.
Jewelle Gomez is a Native and African American author, poet, and cultural worker, with a focus on LGBTQ+ and African American literature. She’s been fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights since the 1960’s, and her and her future wife, Dr. Diane Sabin were part of the people who filed a complaint against the state of California in 2008 in order to legalize same-sex marriage.
8. The Carpet Weaver (2019, contemporary fiction)
Nemat Sadat (1979)
Trigger warnings : homophobia, violence, forced marriage
Set in 1977 in Afghanistan, the author’s birth country, this book follows the journey of Kanishka, a young man who falls in love with his childhood best friend, and discovers his identity as a gay individual in a society that ferociously condemns homosexuality. As Kanishka grapples with his feelings and desires, he faces the harsh reality of living under the oppressive rule of the Taliban, where being gay is punishable by death. The novel explores the challenges and dangers he encounters as he navigates his sexuality, love, and self-acceptance in the conservative and hostile environment that was Kabul before the civil war.
Nemat Sadat is a gay writer and activist born in 1979 in Afghanistan. As one of the first openly gay Afghans to actively fight for queer rights in his country, he ended up fleeing Afghanistan to study in the safer US in 2012. He has been a very vocal critic of the persecution and violence faced by queer individuals in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, and more broadly, on the muslim world.