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The 10 Best Books on Homosexuality You Should Have Read Already By Now!

The 10 Best Books on Homosexuality You Should Have Read Already By Now!

Most of us have either experienced tension between our queerness and the world around us or – as a straight person yourself – felt a little confused or detached by the fluid, somewhat clandestine definition of ‘what it means to be gay’. And that’s perfectly understandable, and reading the best books on homosexuality will help to solve it.

Maybe there will be a time when people of all sexualities can choose who they want to be with without the need to ‘come out’, but that’s still some while away.

As much as it can be difficult for queer people to imagine being in or at least happy in a relationship or being intimate with someone who falls outside of their attractions, it can be hard for those that do not identify as part of the LGBTQ community to imagine what it is like being queer and the challenges it presents.

Unfortunately, however, a lot of misconception and bias comes from ‘not knowing’, as the mind tends to use rumors and assumptions to fill in the blanks.

Homosexuality Books - Best Homosexuality Books - Best Books for Homosexuality - Books on Homosexuality

But what to do to ensure that this does not happen and that we can all understand the lives and needs of our queer brothers and sisters? Learning from long studies and listening to lectures is certainly out of the picture, and thus in this list of the best books on homosexuality, we’ll be focusing on the light, the engaging, and the easily digestible.

Books that make embracing queerness and the queer history of the world all around us a pleasure and a step towards greater happiness and inclusivity rather than the chore that analytical works make it seem.

We’ve compiled a list of our top ten written works to introduce newcomers to the LGBTQ community and help them better understand why things are the way they are and why queer rights are still a work in progress.

A few informative yet engaging non-fiction books, a little heartfelt fiction to make you swoon, and a little introspection to maybe help you see the world as an entirely different place than you once did.

So, with that said, let’s get started! Time to open our minds, ready our swiping or page-turning thumbs, and get stuck into the top ten books to learn about homosexuality so that you can be a better ally to your friends and neighbors!

I want to give you green and golden fields, alfalfa, wheat
in sunlight, August, three p.m. In Kyoto, kanji are burned
into mountainsides in August. You can read them from miles
away. Old flames, boxes of blue-tipped strike-anywheres. A state,
uncharted country, a compass, sketch of map. Oaks,
soft rope of tire swing, wide slow rivers, campfires, coals. Oak
Room full of flappers, Luckies smoldering in holders. Piles
of burning leaves. Also smoldering.
A brickyard a lumberyard a wood fired kiln.

My lips are burning. No,
my mind. In my mind my
lips burn. I am “burning.” You are “red-hot.” This urgency,
open in daylight: “parching.”

From Ardent by Jill McDonough
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. 

Homosexuality Books - Best Homosexuality Books - Best Books for Homosexuality - Books on Homosexuality

Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrard Conley

A tale of struggle, fear, and of an undeniable need to be oneself, Boy Erased encompasses the story of a young man with Baptist parents as he journeys down the path of discovery – solving his deep inner conflict over sexuality, arguing with the belief in God pushed upon him, and finding out exactly how far the people around him will go to ensure that he remains how they want him to be.

Garrard Conley – the autobiographical author of the book – was outed to his parents and church community without his consent, and the next hellfire was terrifying. The God he prayed to almost every day was nowhere to save him, and now his parents wanted him to participate in a conversion therapy course called the ‘Twelve Step Program.’

Though his parents and his church expected the therapy to erase all thoughts of so-called homosexuality from his mind and return him to the faith as a ‘cleansed’, ‘pure’ individual, Conley knows that he must remain strong and that he cannot lie to himself for the entire rest of his life.

His journey is brave and defies all possible opposition to discover the true lines in trust, family, friends, and community that make up a person and a belief system.

Boy Erased has since been made into a 2018 film starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russel Crowe. The film was received quite well and was awarded two Golden Globes nominations.

Boy Erased A Memoir by Garrard Conley - Best Books on Homosexuality

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Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

A multi-award-winning novel and the first in an ongoing series, Openly Straight isn’t a story about coming out, per se or suffering from homophobia or discrimination. It’s a tale about how queer people must feel differently than others when it comes to expressing themselves, changing environments, and interacting with strangers.

Rafe thinks that his life as an openly gay high student is perfectly fine. He doesn’t have to put up with bullying, he gets to just be himself without being harassed for it, and he even gets to travel to other high schools to give talks about increasing tolerance.

But that all changes when he transfers to an all-boys private boarding school. Things are different there, and he doesn’t know how to feel about himself, his identity, and where it would put him if he came out and was as open about being gay as he was in his old school.

Openly Straight explores more about what it means to be gay than just matters of sexuality and romance alone, delving into the depths of the social implications that being queer has and the extra lengths in ‘fitting in’ that queer kids especially have to go through.

The book isn’t a trophy mess filled to the brim with stereotypes and cheap representation, but it also isn’t a preachy work of text-hungry reeducation. The balance it finds is perfect and makes reading Rafe’s tale and self-discovery an absolute pleasure.

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg - Best Books on Homosexuality

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Allies at Work by David M. Hall

Many LGBT-focused books center around school years and what it means to grow up ‘different’ than the other kids around you. But does that mean that all the problems go away when one grows up and stop attending school, or is that just an oversight created by the saturation of queer fiction in the young adult genre?

The latter. Things don’t get simpler when school is over, and the problems don’t go away. They are more complex, persistent, and harder to navigate than ever. Working as a queer person is a whole new world, given that the biases of adults are generally far more dangerous.

Allies at Work – Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Inclusive Work Environment sets out to fulfill the goal of its title.

Although a bit more information and practicality-heavy than many of the other books on this list, as well as a bit more focused towards real-life execution rather than just casual reading, Allies at Work is nonetheless a must-read for anyone who works in a public environment or teams as a whole.

The book presents a wide variety of possible scenarios from multiple points of view, using real research, personal accounts, and a generous helping of real workplace management expertise to show how simple it is for workplaces and places of collaboration as a whole to get along and function well while respecting and honoring the identities and personalities of all their employees.

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Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning by Mark Thompson

Written by an accomplished writer, editor, and international activist Mark Thompson, Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning join some of the other most influential gay rights books of the late 1980s in great esteem, displaying the passion and colorful talent of the time perfectly in its thought-inducing, self-retrospective pages.

Gay Spirit is a book about culture and meaning – as is conveyed by its title – and takes a much wider approach than you might expect. The questions it asks are bigger than the issues present at our current time – they span far into the past and far into the future, exploring what it means to be gay and what queer people mean to society.

What kind of culture are we creating about ourselves and the world as a whole, and where did the culture we are embracing today and identifying with come from? What are its origins in the past?

Equal parts slice of the past and prophecy of the future and what we as the human race should aim for, the multiple angles that Gay Spirit takes makes it unique amongst its fellows in the world of gay literature, and the statement that it embodies rings true despite its age.

The book is an integral read to both those who identify as gay and allies who have an interest in the strengths and particularities of queer people as a group – what brings us together as a society and what pushes us apart.

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Mom, Dad, I’m Gay by Ritch C. Savin-Williams

The experience of coming out and coming to terms with both your sexuality and that of your family members is a unique part of family life. A part that often turns into somewhat of a challenge.

Parents’ heavy expectations and vicarious wants can often create significant tension between queer children and their families, breaking harmony and trust for all parties involved.

But how to avoid issues like this and balance the needs of all parties in a family when a member comes out?

This book’s full title is Mom, Dad; I’m Gay: How Families Negotiate Coming Out, and that’s exactly what it sets out to help people do. After all, a strong family unit is one of the most precious things a person can have, and having that thrown away due to a child being honest to themselves instead of lying is a cruel shame at best.

After all – nothing changes when a child comes out, except that they show that they have summoned the courage and trust to share something with you rather than keep it to themselves.

Mom, Dad, I’m Gay is a letter addressed to parents of queer children worldwide – helping them come to terms, gracefully accept, and see the beauty in their child’s strength in coming out. The book is well-rounded, addresses important issues without taking bias, and tackles any ingrown reservations.

Mom, Dad, I'm Gay by Ritch C. Savin-Williams - Best Books on Homosexuality

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The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine

The second fiction work on this list of the best books on homosexuality and the first to detach a little from the real world to explore a more existential way of feeling, the Angel of History is a portrait, a piece of art that captures emotions and culture through metaphor and artistic expression.

Caught between the playing hands of Satan and fourteen saints, the main character’s mind is a waterscape torn between two high points of dark, alluring contrast.

Laced with humor as well as an incredible strength of feeling, The Angel of History is a novel quite unlike any other, with the span of its story taking place throughout a single evening as the tale’s protagonist – a Yemeni-born poet named Jacob who moved to San Francisco during the very height of the AIDS pandemic – attempts to check himself into a mental clinic.

He keeps seeing his dead lover. And the devil, as mentioned earlier. And death.

The two latter figures seem locked in an endless battle, a debate over Jacob’s sins and virtues. The devil insists that he dwells in the painful depths of his past, where he spent his days growing up in an Egyptian brothel under the control of his father, and death insists that nothing is worth remembering at all and that he should give up on trying to change at all.

This book is a definite recommendation for all crowds and has a much more artistic take on the issue than the other works on this list.

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Bi America by William Burleson

The individual plight of the queer community’s bisexual fraction is often overlooked when one talks about gay rights and when the subject is protested or written about as though it were not much of an issue.

The opposite could not be more true, however. The plague of both gay and straight people claiming that being bisexual is ‘impossible’, a ‘cop-out’, or that a bisexual person should ‘take a side’ is something that has existed as long as homophobia as a whole, as though the issue were exclusively binary and non-negotiable.

Gay or straight. Even the deepest depths of queerdom and even the most accepting allies seem to have difficulty allowing people to remain in the middle of the two and tell their own stories about who they want to be with and what rules they want to conform to.

These issues and many more are the targets of Bi America: Myths, Truths, and Struggles of an Invisible Community – showing the unique relationship with a society deeply caught in a conflict that bisexual Americans.

Conflict, triumph, individual stories, and hope for the future. Many bisexual people suffer from either invalidation or the fallacy that they do not exist at all, and this is one of the many issues that Bi America seeks to overcome and make a thing of the past – ensuring that bisexual people are given the same empowerment to feel sure of themselves as we try to offer other queer people.

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Raising LGBTQ Allies by Chris Tompkins

The second book targeted towards parents on this list, Raising LGBTQ Allies: A Parent’s Guide to Changing the Messages from the Playground, isn’t just a step forward in accepting the honesty and identity of children – but also in ensuring that the next generations live upon this earth are less judgmental and focus upon spreading love rather than deepening the separations that drive our society apart.

As Raising LGBTQ Allies goes on to say, not every pair of parents will have a queer child or one that comes out to them in their time going through school and growing up, but it is almost certain that their children will go to school with or share a workspace with someone who is openly gay or trans, be it now or in the future.

Thus, even though your child may not be gay, they must know that it is okay to be queer, that they shouldn’t treat people differently due to their identity, and that things don’t change if they realize that they are queer in the future.

Written by teacher and TEDx speaker Chris Tompkins, who shows his clear experience and touching care for LGBTQ advocacy that works in the real world in Raising LGBTQ’s pages, the book is a must-read for all parents looking to raise a compassionate, open child, and all of those involved with the education of today’s new generation. May tomorrow’s world be one that we can all share in harmony.

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The Tragedy of Heterosexuality by Jane Ward

While the rest of the books on this list focus on showcasing gay rights and showing how understanding is crucial to moving forward as a society, this book takes a different angle altogether – showing the similarities between gay and straight people’s lives and how ‘straight culture’ has just as many issues as straight people claim that ‘queer culture’ has.

As the Tragedy of Heterosexuality demonstrates, a lot more than just prejudice and the hegemony of sexual orientation rides on heterosexuality as a concept and the social engines it creates. Maybe the two groups have a lot more to learn from one another than either thinks and maybe the ‘great debate’ between sexual identities is just as trivial as it sometimes seems.

The book shows the violently defended ideals of ‘straight pride’ and what makes ‘straight people straight’ as the fragile, artificially constructed borders between people that they are and shows who exactly comes to profit off of them: relationship therapists, bad journalists, and patriarchal institutions.

Daring, brave, and well-versed in the arguments that it raises, The Tragedy of Heterosexuality isn’t scared of broaching tense subjects and shows great respect for the aspects it compliments while giving good reason for the things it condemns.

Not too laden in information or lecture-lie for a casual read but also in-depth enough to provide a consistent and concise education of the issues, Ward’s status as an accomplished writer is clear in the earnest way she captures and dissects the issue.

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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Talented author Vuong’s debut to the writing scene after gaining notoriety through his poetry collection ‘Night Sky with Exit Wounds’, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is an emotional, artistical, harshly realistic, and expertly compiled art piece that makes a fitting end to this list of the best books on homosexuality.

The tale of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is told in the form of a letter sent by a son to his mother – a mother who cannot read and is more metaphorical than actual.

Little Dog – the son and narrator – does not truly hope that his mother will read the letter as much as he seeks to free his heart and open his mind and to be honest to her and himself as much as he can be despite their actual and emotional distance from one another.

Little Dog questions whether a letter – or even the English language – can hold the strength of emotion that he wants to convey, expressing his personal journey, troubles, struggles, and acceptance through the escape of his identity.

The most emotional and heartfelt of all the books on this list, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, manages to be deeply personal at the same time as intensely philosophical, which is a feat that many memoir-style works and topical novels fail to achieve.

The book is a perfect example of a treatise on the difficulty that queer people often feel when trying to convey the depth of their experience to the ones they love and the world around them.

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