Homosexuality has been considered a crime and was punishable by imprisonment or prosecution. However, certain countries have legalised homosexuality, it still remains a crime in certain countries. Pride Month is celebrated each year in the month of June to honour the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a turning point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Representation of LGBTQIAP persons is extremely significant in literature so people could be made aware of their lives. We have often admired books with diverse characters, so I decided to do a blog post to honour queer authors, some of which are quite popular and some of which might not as be popular, some of which I’ve read and some of which I plan to read in future. I, eventually had to cut short the list, only to include those authors about whom I could accumulate accurate information.
E. M. FORSTER
Edward Morgan Forster was an English novelist best known for his notable works: A Room with a View and A Passage to India. He was homosexual and fell in love with his student, a seventeen-year-old Syed Ross Masood. He implied themes of homosexuality in his works especially, Maurice. It was published along with his explicitly written short story collection, The Life to Come shortly after Forster’s death in 1970. He feared his career would end if Maurice were to publish in 1914 when it was written and requested to publish both works after his death.
I found an interesting blog post of Literary Hub of 8 GREAT BOOKS BY LGBTQ AUTHORS FROM PLACES WHERE IT’S ILLEGAL TO BE GAY. Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 2002 where homosexuality can be punishable with up to ten years in prison along with strong political and cultural bias. Men face legal and social issues, on the other hand, sexual activity between women is legal. He is a novelist, and winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, with three published novels: John Crow’s Devil, The Book of Night Women and A Brief History of Seven Killings. His novels imply themes of religious mania, slavery and sexual obsessions.
Abdi Nazemian was born in Iran where homosexuality can be punishable by execution. However, sex reassignment surgery is legal and is often partially funded by the government. Sex reassignment surgery is a procedure by which a transgender’s person sexual characteristics are altered to resemble that associated with their identified gender. He is an Iranian-American author who won the Lambda Literary Award for his debut novel, The Walk-In Closet, in 2015. The novel is about Kara Walker as she discovers her own secret and identifies with her sexuality.
Saleem Haddad was born in Kuwait in 1983 to a Lebanese-Palestinian father and an Iraqi-German mother. In Kuwait homosexuality is punishable with imprisonment up to seven years. Homosexuality is not specifically outlawed but gay people can be prosecuted under the debauchery law. Besides an author, he is also an aid worker. His debut novel Guapa was published in 2016 which tells the story of Rasa, a young gay man in the Middle East as he tries to blend in the society that may never accept him.
Oscar Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright best remembered for his plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and circumstances which led to his imprisonment and early death. Wilde was imprisoned after being convicted of homosexual offences in 1895 and sentenced to two years imprisonment. De Profundis is a collection of letters written by Wilde to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas during his last year in Reading Gaol prison. Upon his release, he left for France where he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol in 1898, a long poem remembering pains of prison life. He died in Paris at the age of 46. Later, Lord Alfred Douglas, a British author wrote a book, Oscar Wilde and Myself in 1914 about his relationship with Wilde.
Meredith Russo, an American author is a Transgender woman, who transitioned in late 2013. In addition, she advocates and campaigns heavily for HIV awareness and de-stigmatization. Her debut novel, inspired by her life events, If I Was Your Girl, published in 2016 won the 2017 Stonewall Book Award for the Young Adult category. It is the first widely distributed young adult book about a transgender girl who starts a new school in a new town posts her transition and hopes to be seen for who she really is. The book also features a Trans model on the cover.
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English writer best known for Orlando constructs the fictional embodiment of her lover, Vita Sackville-West. A few of her novels, The Voyage Out, Mrs Dalloway, and Between the Acts are believed to be interpretations of lesbian themes. Woolf stated that ‘Women alone stir my imagination’. It was often believed that her sexual relationships with women throughout her entire life were the result of one or more psychological wounds—her mother’s early death when Virginia was thirteen or her sexual abuse by a half-brother. On 28 March 1941, she drowned herself and left a suicide note addressed to her husband.
Sarah Waters is a Welsh novelist best known for her novels set in Victorian society and featuring lesbian protagonists and themes, such as Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith. She does not mind being labelled a lesbian writer. She said, “I’m writing with a clear lesbian agenda in the novels. It’s right there at the heart of the books.” She also calls her lesbian protagonists “incidental”, due to her own sexual orientation. “That’s how it is in my life, and that’s how it is, really, for most lesbian and gay people, isn’t it? It’s sort of just there in your life.
D. H. LAWRENCE
David Herbert Lawrence was an English writer and poet. His works represent and reflect upon effects of modernisation and industrialisation along with an exploration of sexual issues. His novel The Rainbow set in rural Midlands of England explores dimensions of sexual desires.
She is an American author Break. She tweeted, “I have no idea what my sexual orientation is and I am so afraid you guys are going to eventually feel misled or betrayed by me and also I didn’t sleep all night. Thanks for listening.” Her own voice novel Not Otherwise Specified is about a girl, Etta who’s bisexual, and Bianca, a younger girl in her eating disorder support group for friendship. Bianca is straight, but her brother James is hiding his sexuality from his religious family. Bianca might be Etta’s salvation but can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?
Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, is a Mexican-American author of When The Moon Was Ours, Wild Beauty, and the forthcoming Blanca & Roja. Her novels feature magical realism and are inspired by cultures in which she grew up in. She married. Her debut novel The Weight of Feathers was a Finalist for 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award. She married a Transgender man and is quite open and proud of her and his queerness on Twitter. She once tweeted, “I refer to my husband as the Transboy (w/ his permission) because I learned to be proud of his queerness before I learned to be proud of mine.”
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, revered as the world’s celebrated writer and dramatist, acknowledged for his plays. Need I mention one? No. Some critics argue he was bisexual citing his sonnets as evidence which was initially published without his approval in 1609. Sonnet 18, titled Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? are love poems addressed to a man, the “Fair Youth”, and include puns relating to homosexuality.
Let me know your thoughts and favourite queer authors in the comments below.