Skip to Content

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

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

Most people think of memoirs as platforms for the dramatic day-to-day of celebrities, but to assume that that impression is true for all works in the genre would be a great shame.

After all, some of the most influential and powerful items in our literary history have been autobiographies or memoirs, and it is only recently, in the age of sensational news, that memoirs have unfortunately become notorious for triviality. This is certainly true of many of the best gay memoirs.

They say that you cannot truly understand someone or some way of life until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, and that is exactly why reading memoirs is just as important as indulging in other kinds of written material.

There’s something special about reading and diving into a different perspective on the world that we call our own, and there’s a way how it opens our eyes that is truly unique when it comes to writing as a whole. With memoirs, one can experience things that one has never dreamed of and gain great insight into the minds of our fellow human beings.

Gay Memoirs Books - best Gay Memoirs Books - Best Books for Gay Memoirs - Books on Gay Memoirs

This means that while normal books are about imagining a new reality, memoirs are about reimagining the one we have – seeing it through the eyes of some of our best and brightest. They give legends and pioneers a chance to divulge their discoveries and feelings and for their successors to learn from their experiences.

While we as a people sometimes have a less than successful time learning from our past, that isn’t to say that there’s nothing to benefit from studying that of those who serve to inspire and raise us. This can include personal hardship, unique experiences, or the legacies of the frontier fighters in queer rights, both present and past.

Not only that, but the historical value presented by memoirs is also incredibly surmountable. For the large part, human culture is a written one. All of the things that we know about the past come from either art or writing and it is certain that the words we put on our screens and paper now – especially on the internet – will be studied and deliberated over for a long time to come.

With that said, and with good respect for the past, it’s time to dive into ten of the best queer memoirs ever written. Enjoy, learn, and read on through history!

She is just this side of wonderful,

and suddenly the glamorous world

fills itself with shining and we laugh

at highway monuments that explain

how hard the trek had been for Franciscans

in the Indian wilderness, poor fellows—

conversion is the devil’s own

work! Then the stones of her dream

turn up under her feet, the back

of a huge land turtle. I know

we must be circling Paradise

because the ants enter the fleshy petals

of the roadside flowers with evident

joy and purpose (oh, my dark, pretty one).

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. 

Gay Memoirs Books - best Gay Memoirs Books - Best Books for Gay Memoirs - Books on Gay Memoirs

I’m in Seattle, Where Are You? by Mortada Gzar

A story of impossible romance under the most likely conditions, I’m in Seattle, Where Are You embodies the indomitable spirit of the repressed and the drive to strive upwards from the darkest places in life. 

Trying to make a life for himself in Iraq as a queer man before, while, and after the US bombardment and occupation of the country was taking place, Mortada Gzar was on a thin line between many daunting fates.

The consequences of being outed as gay in his home city would have been equitable with a death sentence, and the shadow of war meant that normal measures of escape and safety were far out of the picture.

In a series of events that goes against all probability and tells of a heart bigger than any of its peers, Gzar’s world flips upside down when he meets Morise – an African-American solider with the US forces – and starts upon a series of events that lead him to the US and into an impossible romance. 

But nothing is quite as he expected it to be in the new Western world all around him. The cloud of racism and discrimination he grew up through follows him and attacks from new angles, and it seems like his challenges in life have just changed rather than truly solved themselves.

Persecution lies around every corner, and the balancing act continues. Can Gzar ever find peace, or is it his destiny to feel in danger for his entire life?

I'm in Seattle, Where Are You by Mortada Gzar - Best Gay Memoirs

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner

Taking a step down from I’m in Seattle, Where Are You’s serious, brutally honest tone to a place of more light, encouraging exposition, Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever is Derfner’s no holds barred take on queer life and the most developmental moments in his own, embodying the very boldness and energy in his writing that he used to power through his earlier years.

Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever’s sharp humor and glass-half-full attitude is sure to hook even the straightest of readers, providing a hilarious, addictive reading experience that makes even the most unique, odd circumstances into relatable, chuckle-inducing joys.

Not necessarily ‘playing off’ or ‘making fun of’ as much as using humor as a vessel to explore even the darkest of subjects, Derfner’s take on exposition is truly talented and makes a lot of difficult conversations in his work enjoyable experiences despite all odds.

Each of Derfner’s enthusiastically embraced phases, and the hats and shoes he has taken up throughout his life are equally colorful and extreme, but his progression between each one seems just as natural as living and breathing.

He’s been there, he’s lived the culture, he’s made up a good part of it himself, and that’s where Derfner writers from and how he analyses queer culture as a whole. The serious, the silly, the crucial, and the unnecessary are all equal in his eyes, as is human’s inane need to ‘be’.

Swish My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner - Best Gay Memoirs


Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

We’ve all read and enjoyed our fair share of ‘change of scenery, change of life’ novels in the various niches of literary fiction, but when it comes to real life, not every transition comes at the behest of magical forces and to an end of wonder and adventure. A perfect example of this is Burroughs’ own life. 

His mother was an aspiring career poet with a head in her work and not much stock in her son, but even his rough early childhood did little to prepare him for what was to come not long after his twelfth birthday.

His mother’s carelessness fluctuated to even higher levels of insane neglect, and Burroughs was sent to live with a strange psychiatrist whose life, home, and lifestyle were more terrifying and deadly than just odd.

While the tale of Burroughs’ life is certainly an extreme one, and not for every reader, his ability to convey the strength of his emotions and experiences onto paper is second to none, and this makes for a gripping and deeply reflective read that is more in-depth and thoughtful than some of the best philosophical books known to the literary world as a whole.

Both the more or less ‘ordinary’ moments of Burroughs’ life and the extraordinary ones are made tangible by his writing, as is his overwhelming sense of relief when, in adulthood, he finally overcomes some of the tithes and milestones that had been holding him back for as long as he could remember.

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs - Best Gay Memoirs

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

Naturally Tan by Tan France

Don’t let the name pun lead you astray – France’s memoir is no joke. Although he is now known as the star of Netflix’s Queer Eye and a sharp-witted, light-hearted paragon of queer representation before he was those things, Tan was a fashion designer, and even earlier than that, he was a young child growing up in a conservative Muslim family. 

Even back then, he always knew that he was different. Things didn’t line up; he was constantly falling in and out of trouble with both his surroundings and his family thanks to his over-the-top personality, and – even all of these years later – he still finds himself feeling strange about embracing the person that he truly is from time to time.

That boy who had to hide his feelings and live a lie still exists somewhere, as it does in the heart of countless people just like Tan, but not as lucky as he was.

Despite all of this, however, none of the obstacles that have put themselves before Tan has stopped him from stepping up to prominence, embracing being honest with the world around him, and finding love in the form of his husband, Rob. 

Perhaps the best way to describe Naturally Tan is by using Tan’s own words. “The book is meant to spread joy, personal acceptance, and, most of all, understanding. Each of us is living our private journey, and the more we know about each other, the healthier and happier the world will be.”

Naturally Tan by Tan France - Best Gay Memoirs

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

Bad Kid by David Crabb

Bad Kid is a journey of self-discovery framed through the lens of a deep connection to immersion in the culture of the eighties and nineties, using trends, entertainment milestones, and the hubris of the times to deliver the recipe in that the man that Crabb is today was formed.

Pop culture and what we see on television are a large part of our connection to the world around us – as is the influence of others and their styles. In the pages of Bad Kid, Crabb describes his crushing drive to form a part of that culture – to absorb it and to simultaneously output his unique blend to it – and how he learned his most important lessons.

Friends, enemies, stars, and deep lows are all high points in the flow of his fascinating tale, embraced equally and held as the important, fundamental building blocks they are. Crabb feels no shame about his life and shows none, either.

Bad Kid is a coming-of-age story – and an influential one, too – but it is also a sign of the ages to come.

The way that Crabb sees the world in this book and the ways that he explores his progression through culture, drugs, music, and communities are all traces of how both he and the world that we live in progressed to the place that they are today, where new culture shapes and molds, and new outcomes are being determined every day.

Bad Kid by David Crabb - Best Gay Memoirs

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

The Prince of Los Cocuyos by Richard Blanco

Written by Richard Blanco – Barrack Obama’s inaugural poet and an incredibly talented writer overall – The Prince of Los Cocuyos is the tale of Blanco’s life growing up amongst a Cuban immigrant family in the streets of Miami, and what was behind the great leaps that came next. 

In a charged, emotional work filled with the classic conflict between traditional culture and expressionism, Blanco carefully combs through his life with reflective fingers to tell the story of who he turned out as.

Where his family’s eyes were set back on the not-so-distant place that had once been their home – which Blanco had never seen himself – Richard’s thoughts were on something much different. 

He didn’t feel like he belonged. In America, back in Cuba for as much as he knew, or anywhere in this world. And that is not to mention the immense clash between his thoughts and his realization of identity, leaving his time as a teenager as barely the first stepping stone towards later being able to finally come to terms with his identity as a gay man.

It isn’t until Blanco meets Victor – a fellow artist from Cuba who Blanco believes may have had a male partner in the past – that he has his first intimate experience, but even then, he remains cripplingly uncertain. He fears that in embracing himself as he dreads to do, he will betray his culture and become an alien to the person his parents had raised him to be. 

The Prince of Los Cocuyos by Richard Blanco - Best Gay Memoirs

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

Shop Gay Underwear Sale Now At Queer In The World Shop

Sex Talks to Girls: A Memoir by Maureen Seaton

Sex Talks to Girls is just as filled with awkward moments of change and necessary steps as an actual sex talk – following Seaton from her youth as a daughter of the Catholic church to her current, more harmonic state as an open lesbian and a proud person overall.

Her story is a testament to the fact that peace is never unattainable, that it’s never too late, and that feeling down on your luck is not a reason to give up.

Things certainly weren’t straightforward for Seaton, and they probably won’t be in the future. Her coming of age and rising to the level of satisfaction with herself that she feels now didn’t come without a price attached, and certainly not without other sacrifices being made.

Friendships were lost forever, both due to her fault and that of others; her connection to religion was tossed about and fried to a fever pitch, and alcoholism and depression plagued her every step along the way to a better, fuller life.

Seaton’s description of her life is varied and detailed – from her early childhood with the alcohol in her parents’ cellar to the mistakes she made as a teen that led her down an even darker road.

After breaking out of an unsuccessful marriage and a grave problem with alcohol and into a new realm of quality, Seaton’s realization that she was queer was a fundamental puzzle piece in rebuilding her life and understanding what had been going wrong all this time.

Sex Talks to Girls A Memoir by Maureen Seaton - Best Gay Memoirs


Out of Sync by Lance Bass

James Bass is a singer, dancer, actor, and producer, but his life story is much more than one that can be boiled down into the names of occupations and claims to notoriety. After all, the world that has come to embrace him now would never have known his name had it not been for a phone call from Justin Timberlake and the rapid ascent into the spotlight that came afterward.

Bass grew up in a small town in Mississippi, and although his transformation into a musical idol changed many things about him, one of the most prominent things it did not alter was the childhood that came before that great moment of change.

This memoir is the first and broadest exposition on Bass’s childhood and growth as a teenager and contains one of the frankest, down-to-earth accounts of queer life to ever come out of the show industry.

Lance tells his younger self and readers to get out in the world and start living – quashing the onslaught of fears from all directions when growing up, feeling different from those around you, and persevering against all possible opposition.

Out of Sync is positively inspirational and goes beyond just telling the story of one man. It attempts to branch out and capture the story of an age and a moment – of sharp changes that affect one’s life forever. The right life can be just around the corner – one must look.

Out of Sync by Lance Bass - Best Gay Memoirs


Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More is a tale of achieving goals, seizing the truth, and pushing forwards no matter who or what tries to stand in your way.

Rocketed to notoriety thanks to a profile about her and her journey as a trans woman written for the magazine Marie Clarie, Mock has since inspired hundreds of thousands of queer and trans people worldwide and intends to continue doing so for as long as she lives.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Mock’s family was an African-American, Portuguese, and Asian mix that deeply loved her but was unable to properly be there for their daughter. That didn’t stop Mock from stepping up to the challenge alone, however.

Even though she had very few educational opportunities and very few resources to work with, by the time she was fifteen, she was self-medicating with hormone treatment, and by the time she was eighteen, she flew halfway across the world to have the gender-affirming surgery that she couldn’t have received in any way back home in the States. 

A definite must-read for just about anyone needing a fiery source of inspiration to add rocket fuel to their perseverance, the multi-award-winning Redefining Realness is a tale of passion for the ages. The power of Mock’s memoir and her story is tangible, and through it, readers can experience the toughness, strength, and power that Mock harnessed throughout her transition. 

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock - Best Gay Memoirs

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Jones is a poet foremost amongst trades, but that fact does little to lessen the monumental effect that How We Fight for Our Lives has upon readers, the skill with which it is written, and the strength of its energy.

Ever since his origins as a young man of color in the south of the States, Jones has been fighting to make things right for himself and striving to find a place where he can be happy and truly live life as the person he feels like deep inside.

But there were many obstacles between Jones and a place of perspective peace. His life was and continues to be a work in progress, sketched over the wreckage of the times that he has struggled through in the past and built up using the wreckage of failed starts.

The artistic eye that Jones takes to his writing in this memoir makes it a read unique amongst all others in the genre – gentle, expressive, and possessing a quality that exudes the deepest sense of vulnerability. The spirit endures, and the determination flares higher.

If you’re looking for an expertly blended mix of poetry and gentle self-reflection, How We Fight for Our Lives is the perfect choice. Readers will be sucked into a world of swirling emotion centered on the deceptively simple-sounding but almost impossible task of finding your ‘true self’ in a world that constantly tries to convince you that you are an entirely different person altogether.

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones - Best Gay Memoirs

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

Shop LGBTQ+ Pride Designs @