This is for glinda, who is excited about queerlit50 but has expressed frustration because it's too much to handle alongside the very wonderful 50books_poc (which was the 2nd comm's inspiration). She asked for recommendations for books by queer people of color.
I thought, I'm sure I can come up with 50 books by LGBT people of color. So I did.
Thus far it's 32 authors and 66 books. This list is obviously partial--it skews American, Anglophone, African-American, and bisexual, just to start, because of my own experiences, though I haven't read every book on it myself. I would really love to add to it, and welcome additions. Sadly, at the moment I think it's only a list of books by LGB people of color, and I'd be particularly interested in works by trans authors. (Also, if any of these books are transphobic, I'd like to flag that, too. Let me know.)
Like queerlit50 this list is about the author's identity, rather than content, so it includes books in which everyone is white (Giovanni's Room) and no one is obviously queer (A Raisin in the Sun). If I have inadvertently identified anyone incorrectly (for example, including someone of Cuban descent who doesn't consider themselves of color, or calling someone queer who doesn't identify that way), please let me know and I will be happy to amend.
Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls. Autobiography of a gay Cuban man.
James Baldwin, Another Country, Giovanni’s Room, Go Tell It On the Mountain, Tell Me How Long The Train’s Been Gone (novels), The Fire Next Time (essays). Highly recommended.
Octavia E. Butler, Fledgling, Kindred, Bloodchild and Other Stories, Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago, many others. Highly recommended.
Staceyann Chin, The Other Side of Paradise. Memoir about growing up poor, half-black and half-Chinese, and lesbian in Jamaica.
Christina Chiu, Troublemaker and Other Stories. Short stories.
Samuel R. Delaney, Dhalgren, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, many other novels and short stories and The Motion of Light in Water (autobiography). Delaney identified as bisexual for a long time but now calls himself gay.
Farzana Doctor, Stealing Nasreen. Muslim Gujarati lesbians in Canada.
Mayra Lazara Dole, Down to the Bone. YA novel about a Cuban-American lesbian in Miami. Warning for biphobic sentiments voiced by characters and left unchallenged.
Jewel Gomez, The Gilda Stories. Black lesbian vampire lives through much of American history. Fascinating remaking of vampire mythology and a key text of 1970s lesbian lit. Warning for biphobic stereotypes.
Angelina Weld Grimké, Selected Works of Angelina Weld Grimké. Like Nugent below, Grimké wrote about erotic attractions to both women and men during the Harlem Renaissance, but homophobia kept her from publishing during her lifetime.
Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (play). To Be Young, Gifted, and Black. The very talented Hansberry identified as a lesbian, but after her death her ex-husband/literary executor did a lot to obscure the fact.
E. Lynn Harris, Invisible Life, Just As I Am, And This Too Shall Pass, Any Way the Wind Blows, A Love of My Own. Novels about African-American gay and bisexual men. Often explicitly erotic.
Langston Hughes, The Big Sea (autobiography) and numerous collections of poetry.
June Jordan, Soldier: A Poet’s Memoir. And her poetry too, obviously.
Jackie Kay, Trumpet (a novel about a black trans jazz musician), Other Lovers (poetry) and many collections of poetry. Also Bessie Smith, her biography of the blues singer.
Thi Diem Thúy Lê, The Gangster We Are All Looking For. Author identifies as bisexual. Autobiographical novel about a Vietnamese immigrant family in the US.
Felicia Luna Lemus, Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties, and Like Son. Novels about Chicano genderqueer or trans protagonists. IMO the first one is much better.
Malinda Lo, Ash. YA fantasy involving fairies; a lesbian retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale.
Lani Ka'ahumanu, co-editor (with Loraine Hutchins), Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out. Edited collection.
Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask. Famous novel about a closeted gay man by the giant of 20th-century Japanese literature. He wrote 39 other novels, plus plays, short stories, and essays before his even more famous public suicide.
Mary Anne Mohanraj, Bodies in Motion. Short stories about two linked Sri Lankan families, including gay, lesbian, and bi characters. Also two collections of erotic short stories: Torn Shape of Desire and Silence and the Word. Author identifies as bisexual (and has kindly provided more info in the comments below).
Richard Bruce Nugent, Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent. It’s debated whether Nugent was a gay man, or a bisexual one whom later historians have forced into the gay mold. But he bravely wrote openly about male same-sex desire in the black community in the 1920s.
Achy Obejas, Days of Awe and Memory Mambo (novels about Cuban-American lesbians), We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This? (short stories)
Nina Revoyr, The Necessary Hunger and Southland (novels about Japanese-American and African-American communities in Los Angeles), The Age of Dreaming (novel about a Japanese-American silent film star). Highly recommended.
Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, The Dirty Girls Social Club and other novels. Author identifies as bisexual, but handled coming-out in public badly.
Sean Steward Ruff, Finlater. Two young boys, one black, one Jewish, fall for each other in racially segregated Columbus. Too sexually explicit to be considered YA. Highly recommended.
Alex Sanchez, Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, Rainbow Road, The God Box, So Hard to Say, Getting It, Bait. YA fiction about teenager boys, many of whom are gay or bisexual.
Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy, Cinnamon Gardens, Swimming in the Monsoon Sea. Novels that feature gay Sri Lankan men; the last is YA.
Linda Villarosa, Passing for Black. Fun, fluffy story about a black middle-class woman coming out. Warning for attempts to be a trans ally that fall short.
Alice Walker, The Color Purple, Anything We Love Can Be Saved, The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart, many other novels and short stories.
Rebecca Walker, Black White and Jewish and Baby Love. Author identifies as bisexual. Warning for much less talent than her mother.
Kenji Yoshino, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights. A must-read for anyone who cares about identity. Highly, highly recommended.
Update 1 (because I hope there will be more)
Craig Laurance Gidney, Sea, Swallow Me. Short story collection, mostly fantasy, some horror, more focused on black gay men. Some explicit sex.
Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring (post-apocalyptic voudon!Toronto), Midnight Robber (Caribbean-colonized planet and its alternative dimension), Skin Folk (incredible short stories), The Salt Roads (the goddess Ezili connects the lives of a lesbian in pre-Revolutionary Haiti, a bisexual woman in 19thc France, and a prostitute in Roman Egypt), The New Moon's Arms (Caribbean-set fantasy/sf). Also the editors of So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy, Mojo: Conjure Stories, and Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction.
I'm tempted to put Nisi Shawl, author of the sci-fi short story collection Filter House, on this list, but I'm afraid it might be a misrepresentation of her identity. If anyone has info on how she self-identifies, I'd welcome clarification.
If you feel inclined to signal-boost, it would be much appreciated. I'm very excited about queerlit50 and I'd like to see authors of color well-represented on it.
- More than 50 books by Queer People of Color