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The 10 Best Books for Gay Men You Should Have Read Already By Now!

The 10 Best Books for Gay Men You Should Have Read Already By Now!

It isn’t easy making a life on this earth; we all know that. The challenges we must face change and intensify daily, and every time we feel like we’ve solved an issue bugging us, it’s just a matter of time before something else presents itself and makes us feel like we haven’t gotten anywhere at all.

As hopeless as things might feel from time to time, however, it’s important to know that every human being on earth has moments just like you and that we are all working to overcome them together.

It could be job issues and kinks in the money flow, family disputes, addictions, or maybe even questions or uncertainty about your identity and what it means for your lifestyle and the impressions of those around you. 

You aren’t alone. No matter how small the issue is, and if you are convinced that you can ignore it for the time being, it is valid and deserves fixing.

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Repairing the issues in our lives can sometimes be as simple as making a little more effort in the day-to-day, talking to the right people, or making the right friends, but sometimes what one needs is reassuring words and helpful advice from those who understand and have experienced the same things. Doctors, fellow gay men, and understanding voices.

That’s where these books for gay men come in – handpicked, carefully written, and tailored to help make the pressure, the discomfort, and the volume of challenges presented to queer people just a little easier on the mind. The power is yours, and the path to unlocking it is often simpler than you might expect – just a few turns of the right set of pages away.

No place better to start than the present, and no one starts to feel like themselves again by just sitting around. So find a peaceful place to sit down, get a cup of tea or coffee, and get ready to sink into our suggestions for the top ten best books for gay men! 

When the trains come into strange cities

The citizens come out to meet the strangers.

I love you, Jack, he said

I love you, Jack, he said

At another station.

When passengers come in from strange cities

The citizens come out to help the strangers.

I love you too, I said

I love you too, I said

From another station.

The citizens are kind to passing strangers

And nourish them and kiss their lips in kindness.

I walk the unbelieving streets

I walk the unbelieving streets

In a strange city.

At night in cold new beds the welcomed strangers

Achieve in memory the city’s promise.

I wake in love with you

I wake in love with you

At last year’s station.

Then say goodbye to citizens and city

Admit this much—that they were kind to strangers.

I leave my love with you

I leave my love with you

In this strange city.

A Second Train Song for Gary by Jack Spicer
Queer Literature

Don't have time to read them all? Why not try listening to them? Audible is a great platform for listening to audiobooks because it offers a wide selection of books, including bestsellers and exclusive content. With Audible, you can listen to your favorite books on-the-go, whether you're commuting, working out, or doing household chores.

The Audible app also has features like adjustable narration speed, a sleep timer, and the ability to create bookmarks, making it easy to customize your listening experience. Additionally, Audible offers a membership program that gives members access to a certain number of audiobooks per month, making it a cost-effective option for avid listeners. 

A great resource for people who want to maximize their time and make the most out of their daily activities. Try a free 30-day trial from Audible today, and you'll get access to a selection of Audible Originals and audiobooks, along with a credit to purchase any title in their premium selection, regardless of price (including many of the books on this list!) 

For ebook lovers, we also recommend Scribd, basically the Netflix for Books and the best and most convenient subscription for online reading. While they have a catalog comprising over half a million books including from many bestselling authors, for some of the books on this list, you'll still have to purchase individually - either as a paperback or eBook to load on your Kindle - due to publishing house restrictions. 

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Straight Jacket by Matthew Todd

Winner of the Boyz LGBT Book of the Year Award and dubbed by Elton John himself as ‘An essential read for every gay person on the planet’, Straight Jacket does not present itself as merely a self-help book but as a powerful perspective upon the world around us and a peerless resource. 

Unabashedly brave and bold, Straight Jacket provides a strikingly honest assessment of both queer society and heteronormative society, showing the divides, the pain, and the futility that divisions within how we define ourselves and others around us add to our lives. Internalized homophobia. Divides within the community. Conflicts, and whether they truly have reason to happen or not.

What lies beneath the surface of queer issues? With Straight Jacket, you’re on a journey to find out. Previously the editor of British queer lifestyle magazine ‘Attitude’ from 2008 to 2016 – work which earned him the title of Stonewall Journalist of the Year 2011 and the British Society of Magazine Editors Editor of the Year 2011 and 2015 – Todd’s voice in the book is a coaching yet friendly and non-judgmental one. 

This allows the reader to grapple with both the societal and personal issues presented within Straight Jacket’s pages in a way that deepens thought and opens paths for sympathy and understanding rather than widen divides. 

It suffices to say that if there’s one thing that one can take from the sparkling reviews and the beckoning premise, it’s that this book is worth a try. 

Straight Jacket by Matthew Todd - Best Books for Gay Men

eBook | Physical

Coming Out of Shame by Gershon Kaufman and Lev Raphael

Most, if not all, gay people know the feeling – the moment or the time over which they realized that a fundamental part of themselves is considered enough to make them a ‘sinner’ or a degenerate in the minds of at least some. 

This is somehow held as a certainty when it comes to being gay – that not everyone will be supportive, and that hate is always out there – almost as though it should be an accepted part of identifying with your sexuality, and that there is nothing anyone can do about it.

While conversations and pushes related to gay rights often focus on providing gay people protection against discrimination and shaming, in the lens of Coming Out of Shame, it should be seen as equally important to work on inward ‘discrimination’. The lingering feeling of wrongdoing, as though displeasing those with no reason to have an investment in the lives of others, was a crime.

In these pages, Kaufman and Raphael set out to ensure that those suffering shame themselves understand that they are not receiving a privilege or amnesty in seeing peace but that it is something they deserve. What happens within is equally important as what happens without.

Therapeutic, exploratory, and incredibly well-phrased, reading Coming Out of Shame provides a massive step toward actually doing so in real life. The book may have aged somewhat, but its concepts remain eternally true, and its advice rings clear to the climate of queer life today.

Coming Out of Shame by Gershon Kaufman and Lev Raphael - Best Books for Gay Men


Reclaiming Your Life by Rik Isensee

We can all remember at least a few formative events that took place in our childhoods and adolescence. The firsts, the lasts, and the reasons why we handle ourselves the way we do now later in life. 

Some of us hold great esteem to the people we were and the people we had around us, and some of us look back at those times only with reluctance, seeing things that still haunt our minds to this day, and that have provided only inhibition and hesitation to our adult selves. 

Those who have suffered from homophobia early in life or other discrimination based on their sexuality often tend to internalize their feelings and transform it into other negative emotions, given that experiencing backlash from being gay is somehow expected in both queer and non-queer spaces.

Reclaiming Your Life is an analytical, caring guide to doing exactly as the title says – healing, recovering, and springing back from trauma and negatively formative events early in life, and turning yourself around through the shame-inducing environment and depressive patterns into the kind of person that you enjoy being.

Tackling self-destructive behavior and the outside negative influences that cause it to manifest, Isensee makes this work relatable and instrumental regardless of what kind of family one grew up in or what specific issues one faces, offering a path to healing from any position along any walk of life, no matter how young, old you might be, and how light or dark you consider your state of being. 

Reclaiming Your Life by Rik Isensee - Best Books for Gay Men

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

The Invention of Heterosexuality by Jonathan Ned Katz 

Having dipped well and often into the world of gay rights writing before with several other works such as ‘Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality’, ‘Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary’, ‘Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A’, and ‘Coming Out!

In a Documentary Play About Gay Life and Lesbian Life Liberation’, Katz is expertly versed in queer history, and here it shows. 

Taking the topic by storm with his boldly-titled work, Katz continues this trend of unabashed question-asking and norm-doubting through every page of The Invention of Heterosexuality, denouncing archetypes and the fictional view many people seem to have about how the world ‘used to be’.

While The Invention of Heterosexuality started as merely an essay written in 1990, it was then expanded into a full-sized book, within which the very origins of the labels we use for gay people today and used in the recent past are explored. 

When did sex stop existing purely as a means to achieve procreation, how much of our definition of the matter exists only due to social constructs, and where did homosexuality and the term homosexual come from and see us? Was it all as negative as homophobes think it was?

A formative and incredibly thought-inducing work, The Invention of Heterosexuality is a must-read for any self-doubting gay person, as well as a lesson against assumption for those that might have used the past as an excuse to discriminate against those identifying as queer at some time or another.

The Invention of Heterosexuality by Jonathan Ned Katz  - Best Books for Gay Men

eBook | Physical

The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs

The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World is a legend amongst gay literature and somewhat of a role model for many of the books on the subject that came after it. Empowering and dauntless, passionate and yet refined to a point – that is The Velvet Rage, a book that is one of the best books for gay men to read. Ever.

Written by clinical psychologist Alan Downs, the book covers Downs’ own personal struggles with growing up gay as well as challenging many other related topics in an expert tone fueled by experience from professional life in treatment. All edges are rounded, and all points sound true; the book hits every mark straight on – making for an informative yet engaging journey.

The case studies contained within The Velvet Rage’s pages shine light into the individual lives of gay men and the challenges that they faced on a day-to-day basis when they were growing up and/or finding their identity, focusing on the origins of complexes such as internalized homophobia, susceptibility to feeling shame, and feelings of excessive accountability for the feelings of others.

The Velvet Rage is no work of accusation, but its strong statements make great progress in logic and prompt long steps toward a world of proper acceptance – both on behalf of those furthering the discrimination of gay people and also within the hearts of those identifying as queer themselves.

Picking up right from the very fundamental, early moments of their lives and continuing on to the new array of societal obstacles that come afterward.

The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs - Best Books for Gay Men

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

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10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort

Self-betterment is never easy – we all know that – but how difficult must it be for those that are told that their very identity makes them imperfect from the start? 

Not all gay men have the benefit of a close friend or supportive individual to help them through difficult times or feeling imperfect; thus, a strong need for knowledgeable, unbiased assistance is often felt. Unfortunately, however, helpful resources for gay men are hard to find, and those caches of knowledge that do exist are highly susceptible to lacking research or being somewhat tone-deaf. 

Thus, the insight that ’10 Smart Things’ provides is invaluable – giving a professional, well-versed, and all-inclusive set of steps that take what truly works and make it into an almanac of life improvement. 

Written by American psychotherapist and sexologist Joe Kort, who is another face in this list with a career-long experience in helping queer people and as a personal story with being gay himself, ’10 Smart Things’ is full of both passion and practice – incorporating both clinical and advisory topics into a work of irreplaceable counsel on what it means to be gay. 

But the upsides don’t stop there – after an already sterling first release, the book has since been revised and updated with even more up-to-date content and advice, allowing it to carry on in relevance far into the 21st century and beyond, until the day when gay people no longer have to feel different about themselves and live different lives than straight people.

10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort - Best Books for Gay Men

eBook | Physical

Queer by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke

Engaging and packed full of relatable content, Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens lives up to far more than its bold titular aspirations – encompassing all areas and aspects of queer life and providing calm but helpful advice on many problematic subjects.

Brought together as the combined work of Kathy Belge – responsible for an overwhelming amount of amazing LGBTQIA+ related work such as Dipstick’s Essential Guide to Lesbian Life and having written the advice column Lipstick & Dipstick in Curve magazine for 11 years –  and Marke Bieschke – award-winning journalist and author of Into the Streets:

A Young Person’s Visual History of Protest in the United States – ‘Queer’ has a lot.

The book covers everything from the exciting, the reluctant, to the potentially troublesome – guiding queer or questioning teens through everything they would wish they had known earlier otherwise and proving a light at the end of the tunnel which is the confusion provided by puberty. Growing up is incredibly strange and difficult as it is – queer kids don’t need even more than that on their plates!

Nominated for countless school library collections and official endorsements – with mixed results and receptions from skeptics – two parties that Queer can be said to have satisfied with one hundred percent certainty are critics and readers.

Reviews are shining – with both Belge and Bieschke being held high and commended for their efforts in helping young people feel just a little bit less alone in their journey to adulthood.

Queer by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke - Best Books for Gay Men


Becoming a Man by Paul Monette

What does ‘being a man’ mean? What does one have to do to become one, and who decides if someone is a ‘real man’ or not? Or is it all folly? These are all questions and challenges faced in Becoming a Man, with their difficult nature drawn out for all to see. 

Staring in New England in the 1950s, the story follows Monette’s path through life with the weight of an all-consuming secret upon his back. The secret of his identity, his passion, and of his true self. Becoming a man is a coming-of-age story for ages and an incredibly important lesson in self-inspection for any queer person experiencing life through the same lens.

In these pages, Paul learns about living with oneself, courage, persisting, and remaining true despite opposition. Each stage of inner turmoil and daily struggle causes one to look within and wonder – Is this how it has to be?

Though its critical reception was approved, the book has not been immune to its share of divided opinions – as can be said for anything published in the past and especially during times of difficulty. However, that does not take away from the eye-opening, passionate, and raw experience of reading Becoming a Man.

It enhances and gives true grit to the challenges of the period and puts one into the shoes of how a gay man suspended and trapped in that time of history would feel. 

Becoming a Man by Paul Monette - Best Books for Gay Men

eBook | Physical

A Gay Man’s Guide to Life by Britt East

For many, life as a gay person is an eternal paradox. You either live out your days by lying to yourself and being ashamed of what hides inside, or you remain true and face shame from the outside world instead. 

It’s not an easy decision to make, and many queer people find it impossible even today. The pros and cons can mean anything from disastrous to irrevocably, permanently life-changing.

Lacing talented research and razor-sharp powers of deconstruction, East takes even the most complicated emotional issues and makes them studies how queer people can live lives by their own rules without feeling as though they have to either conform with or run directly against the norms of straight society. 

East fuels A Gay Man’s Guide to Life with vivid descriptions of his journey of growing up and finding himself and his identity. The forms that harm takes, ways to seek healing, and how to move on are all topics explored within its pages, allowing the work to be equally enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life.

The book is a fundamental read for both queers wondering how they can find life at peace with society and those looking to experience what it is like to live on the other side of the ‘norm’, and how outsiders can feel challenged and intimidated by societal pressure. No nonsense, no judgment, and instead, a powerful road toward self-improvement and harmony in life.

A Gay Man's Guide to Life by Britt East - Best Books for Gay Men

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? By Julie Smith

Brought to life by a world-renowned psychologist of ten years Julie Smith, Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before is a worthy final entry to this list. 

Using experience gathered from all aspects of her time in practice, Smith captures the very essence of what it is like to be a queer person struggling to come to terms with themselves due to a lack of helpful sources of information and counters it by providing her own concise, well educated take on the subject. 

The content between the pages – when read back to front – is a healing journey in itself, and probably one of the most concise ones ever written on the subject. Both longtime followers of Smith on social media – where she spreads professional advice and positively influences mental health education worldwide – and brand new readers will find this work a catalyst of aid unlike any other.

The most unique part of this book is yet to come, however. With a writing style and composition that lends itself to being a part-time encyclopedia for solutions to common issues, Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before is an unrivaled resource presented in the purest, relatable, and unbiased form possible.

No matter what you feel defines you, you can rely on this book. Though only published last year, the book has already helped people young, old, experienced and new to overcome the complications and difficulties in their lives and move on to a sounder, happier way of existence. Definite recommend.

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before By Julie Smith - Best Books for Gay Men

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

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