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The 10 Best Gay Autobiographies You Should Have Read Already By Now!

The 10 Best Gay Autobiographies You Should Have Read Already By Now!

A biography is a written account of someone’s life – the story, if you will that they told or continue to tell with their actions, influence, and words. Sometimes the weight of a person’s experiences weighs down so heavily upon their back that there is no way forward except to lay them down on paper and send them out to the world. 

In other cases, however, that burden is not one of weight and pain but instead of a feeling of obligation to offer advice learned from that experience, and other times, it is something else altogether. A statement of pride, a flag that says ‘I am here, I survived’.

This last is the case for many of the world’s best gay autobiographies, and certainly for those written by the legends of the LGBTQ community and the survivors of the challenges and trials that members of it often face daily. From the darkest troubles come the brightest stars.

Many people think of books and the written word as a way of relaying fiction and fiction alone, but the strength of the non-fiction tale must be said to stand out of equal worth. After all, without autobiographies, biographies, and memoirs, what would we have to preserve the memories of the world’s most influential people but the objective image that others had of them?

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But the deep importance of biographies doesn’t end with just the personal representative of the person they are written by or about. Every person has something special and new to offer the world, and it is extremely important to human culture as a whole that those who wish to share their experiences to better the lives of others and better life on earth are easily able to.

After all, memoirs and biographies are not necessarily just about personal matters and one’s life. They can also capture a lifetime of study on a subject and help gift the passion and progress of one person to another.

This process provides a jump-start to the prospective careers of readers and fills the void of inspiration where there is none. Our world is built upon the progress of others, so why not write your down? 

So, with that said, get ready to make our way through ten of the queer community’s best personal accounts and introspective dives. It’s the best gay autobiography.

Desert heat, high clouds, and sky

the color of lapis. On this journey,

anything seems possible,

so we stop by an ancient cottonwood

to kiss. The beauty trembles,

doesn’t say a word, just watches

me, so open. Small birds fly by, flock

in the shady tree above us. What

settles in her heart? What congeals?

Hope? Despair? Far off, the river churns

in its sandy banks, swallows veer, turn

in fiery air. Will these kisses seal

her to me? I her lover, she my wife?

Is all of this a dream, my whole life?

From Six Sonnets: Crossing the West by Janice Gould
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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All Down Darkness Wide: A Memoir by Seán Hewitt

A rather recent publication but an influential addition to the world of queer autobiographies and LGBTQ storytelling in literature, All Down Darkness Wide is a perfect start to this list. Tracking through Seán’s struggles with the challenging world around him, the book frames a memorable and powerful journey unlike any other.

Unabashedly confronting and dissecting a lot of topics that are buried by many other memoirs of its kind, All Down Darkness Wide provides an insight into both the bad and the good of Hewitt’s life and the message he seeks to spread in the world, making a deep statement about the sheer amount of strength required to pull through against adversary when you find yourself in hard times.

If Seán’s life wasn’t complicated enough as it was, things take yet another sharp turn when he meets Elias – a young man with which he quickly falls in love due to their undeniable chemistry, but also a person that has just as many demons as Seán himself does.

Elias’s battle with depression is a long and desperate one and leaves both members of the couple scratching at the bottom of their emotional reserves and looking in the most obscure locations for possible salvation.

Not all is simple about life together, and not everything about the person you love loves themselves. Whether true peace can ever be found in this life is a mystery only to be discovered through Hewitt’s poetical prose and exploration of the deepest misery.

All Down Darkness Wide A Memoir by Seán Hewitt - Best Gay Autobiographies

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A Dutiful Boy: A Memoir of Secrets, Lies and Family Love by Mohsin Zaidi

Described as a coming-of-age memoir through the lens of growing up in a British Muslim household, A Dutiful Boy is the tale of a young man simply wanting to be himself without the disapproval of those around him. 

Zaidi’s school was a gang-ridden mess of an inner-city institution, there was no refuge at home, and he had very little free choice.

At a young age, Zaidi shared the same feelings that a lot of queer people experience at a young age – educational material and media in general over the subject was seldom to be found in the bubble of his living sphere, school, and family, and he felt as though he were alone in how he saw the world – a freak, different, and somehow an embarrassment to both himself and his family.

To drive away those feelings, he pushed himself harder than anyone he knew – into education, aspiration, and making up for his perceived ‘failure’ through other avenues of perceived success.

While going to college provided some escape and avenue for self-expression for Zaidi, it turned out that his problems and restrictions were far from wiped away.

His life continued to be studded with problems, hate and rejection for the longest time, and it is only now in the present writing of the book that he can admit that he feels at least somewhat at peace with the world around him about his true self.

A Dutiful Boy A Memoir of Secrets, Lies and Family Love by Mohsin Zaidi - Best Gay Autobiographies

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To Be a Gay Man by Will Young

To Be a Gay Man is a book about shame, learning about where it comes from, summoning the stomach to abandon those who push it upon you, and rising above the shame to remove it from your life.

Will Young’s life as a gay man was not easy – subject to more than his fair share of discrimination, shunning, and homophobia – but his message is one of evolution. One of breaking free from the expectations imposed upon queer people and blazing your own proud, happy, and individual path.

Will is known as a world-famous musical artist, and the first winner of the TV talent contest ‘Pop Idol, but meeting Young personally and beginning to read through this well-written autobiography is like coming under the wing of a new friend – a friend who takes you by the hand and leads you to a place within yourself that you didn’t even know existed.

It is possible to be gay and perfectly at peace and happy with your world at the same time, and being queer does not mean that you are forced to resign to a life of being different from your peers and feeling like you are an alien.

If the memoir’s wit and humor don’t draw you in, the promise of a harmonic, self-accepting future much like the one Will himself feels like he has achieved certainly will do the job. Living on this earth is about being the best you, after all.

To Be a Gay Man by Will Young - Best Gay Autobiographies

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Proud: My Autobiography by Gareth Thomas

Gareth Thomas was known for many things before he was known for perhaps one of the most high-profile coming-out stories of all time.

Topping the pack as a Welsh professional rugby player for an impressive amount of time, Thomas turned his entire career upside down and sent global media into a frenzy by coming out as gay in 2009, which made him the first major league rugby player to ever be openly queer.

But the story of his life as a gay man didn’t start there – in fact, things were remarkably simpler for him after the drama had burst and things were finally out in the open.

In his world-famous autobiography, Thomas dives into the very depths of what came before his famous statement and the repercussions afterward and explores his growth and development into becoming the person that was brave enough to put himself upon such a divided, shaky pedestal with his heart out on the table.

The bravery that Thomas exhibited in his career in sports is only the start of the inspiration that this well-written and authentic work offers to readers. 2009 was when a lifetime of lying, hiding, twisting and pretending ended.

But what came before it was the true story. A lifetime of trying to make his way through a world that he felt would hate him if it truly knew him, all while juggling his aspirations and talent as a sportsman of the highest caliber. 

Proud My Autobiography by Gareth Thomas - Best Gay Autobiographies

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On the Red Hill: Where Four Lives Fell Into Place by Mike Parker

On the Red Hill is a story of standing close to and observing the effects of societal changes on the reality of those living within that society.

The book covers a wide range of earth-shaking events and revolutions in queer rights, from the decriminalization of homosexuality in England in 1967 to the first civil partnership ceremony to ever be held in the Welsh village of Machynlleth – which Parker and his partner were witnesses to.

Filled to the brim with humor that is bitingly honest to a fault, Parker’s self-led account is witty, attentive, and most of all, wise – leading the reader through worlds both long gone and perspective to a place of greater understanding.

Those four lives mentioned in the title become larger than life in his talented writing style, and their stories are more moving than ever before when viewed through the lens of being right there and seeing history passing before your own eyes.

Telling the tale of five decades of modern Welsh and queer life, On the Red Hill’s canvas is the backdrop of the past, and its painting is the colors and vibrance of the present and impending future.

The book explores the undeniable reality that life is never static and that society will always change, and in that, it finds the peace to accept and come to terms with the individual challenges faced by and the suffering endured by those who saw the wrong end of yesteryear’s attitudes.

On the Red Hill Where Four Lives Fell Into Place by Mike Parker - Best Gay Autobiographies


Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness

Winner of the 2019 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Memoir & Autobiography and momentously popular as a whole, Jonathan Van Ness’ biography is brave, bold, and defiant from start to end – asking for no permission, receiving none, and going ahead wide strides even so. 

We know Jonathan from the show ‘Queer Eye’ on Netflix (of the best LGBT TV Shows), but – despite what many people might think – celebrities don’t just pop out into the open fully baked and ready to go. Not so long ago, Van Ness was a lonely queer boy struggling to accept why he was different from everyone he knew and having quite a hard time of it.

All of the laughs and success that came next aren’t enough to bury the struggle that came before, and that is what Van Ness explores here in Over the Top’s pages.

While most celebrity autobiographies take a sense of superiority and seem to be formulated merely as an opportunity to boost the author’s egotism, that is very much not the case with Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love. The direct opposite could be said.

Accepting oneself on a humble level and remembering that you are just another person looking for love and being able to express yourself is the very core of Van Ness’ writing, as is a colorful and light approach to making yourself known to the world whether it chooses to love you in return and admire you back or not.

Over the Top A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness - Best Gay Autobiographies

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No Shame by Tom Allen

Tom Allen’s young life was filled with a lot of failed attempts and false starts. He knew exactly what he wanted to be, who he wanted to be, and how he wanted to do it, but things weren’t always as easy as he first imagined. 

While his later life was a star-studded whirlwind punctuated by hit comedy works and travel worldwide to work and enjoy the good life, Allen’s true identity was and continues to be a crucial point of the challenge.

Famously quoted as saying, ‘I wanted to be an actor, but it turned out I was just gay’, Allen spent the first half of his life feeling like a sore red thumb sticking out amongst the quietness of his hometown and shared more than a fair share of awkward almost-coming-out moments with both family and friends before the thing finally happened. 

What comes next is a weave of fate, a delve into a conflict as old as our modern age, and play-along lines that Allen grew up not even knowing existed. Life was not as simple nor complicated as he had once thought it to be, and suddenly, it was time to shine. 

Reading No Shame is a joyful experience that lines serious, heartfelt subjects with Allen’s trademark brand of wit and humor. The book is also available in superbly narrated audio form, so there’s not much of an excuse not to try it. 

No Shame by Tom Allen - Best Gay Autobiographies

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How Do I Un-Remember This? Unfortunately True Stories by Danny Pellegrino

Danny Pellegrino created the famous podcast ‘Everything Iconic!’, but things weren’t always sunny-side up for him.

Many things still aren’t, for a matter of fact. Pellegrino joins Andrew Evans later on this list in having grown up in conservative rural Ohio in the 90s and tells the tale of his subsequent escape and realization of his true self in a humor and wit-studded work that is sure to make even the most stoic-hearted readers chuckle at least a little.

The questions that Pellegrino asks are wide and wonderful – covering every range of subjects from the dark, the grand, and the in-the-middle. What does it mean (in his opinion) to be gay? What is it like growing up ‘different’ from everyone you know and everything you’ve ever heard?

And, most importantly, what is the greatest part of the moment when you realize that you have made it and that you can finally live as the person you truly are without having to feel ashamed about it? 

It’s all 90s nostalgia and brutal honesty with How Do I Un-Remember This, and that’s where the fun starts.

Pellegrino is like the gay friend or brother you never had and the guiding hand through the dark that we’ve all looked for at one point or another in our journey of coming to terms with being queer. No holds are barred, no lies are told, and all tongues are in cheeks – it’s time to let go and live well.

How Do I Un Remember This Unfortunately True Stories by Danny Pellegrino - Best Gay Autobiographies

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Modern Nature by Derek Jarman

Sometimes all it takes to truly find oneself is just a change of scenery. A fresh perspective on things and a new backdrop to set yourself against.

This was exactly the case for Derek Jarman. Diagnosed with HIV and utterly unsure what to do with his life, Jarman spent 1986 fleeing from everything he had ever built about himself and eventually ended up in a humble garden cottage on the English point of Dungeness.

More of a volume of self-reflection and peaceful meditation than a piece focused on dissecting and analyzing the past for a greater meaning rather than the experiences it is made up of, Modern Nature nonetheless tugs on all the right strings and draws the reader deep into the period and the world that the author lived in.

The pattern of his writing when going over his youth as a closeted, emotionally boxed-in gay man is both gentle and heartbreaking, and the way that he continues to line things up with the situation that he finds himself upon writing the book is almost orchestral. 

Jarman does not write about himself in any overindulgent way. He sees himself as just one part of a greater picture that is the challenges that queer people face, and his position in Modern Nature is mere as one speck of paint amongst a much larger picture. Queerness for Jarman is a joy, a stone to die upon, and a call for liberation all at once.

Modern Nature by Derek Jarman - Best Gay Autobiographies

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The Black Penguin by Andrew Evans

Earnest and open in his self-exposition, Andrew Evans’ story is one of a train going off the rails – a person making their course despite the intricate, powerful nature of the forces that guided them to a set end.

For Evans, those ‘forces’ were the strictures and many arms of religion and traditionality and the set end that he was being guided to a benign future tied to things he had no true passion for.

Although the journey that awaited him outside of his home in rural Ohio was challenging and sometimes less than appetizing, at least trying for a better life was a far more palatable prospect for Evans.

The book tells of his journey across almost the globe in search of a loving home and how that voyage shaped him to be the person he is today. Things weren’t always easy, but he had his headset on one thing – to make it to  Antarctica, where he could finally fulfill one of his most powerful lifelong dreams.

Evans is devout to showing the individual will of the oppressed and the futility of trying to force people to lie about who they truly are. As he goes on to explain, to suppress a human being’s will is to ensure that they will return to that will later with ten times the force and determination, set on breaking free and finally being able to be who they knew that they were all along.

The Black Penguin by Andrew Evans - Best Gay Autobiographies

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