Three LGBTQ+ Books to Get You Thinking About Spring
By Christopher DiRaddo
In the end, this winter wasn’t so bad. It could’ve been much colder, and we could’ve had so much more snow. But still, like everyone else, I’m excited for the first signs of spring. I’m excited for trees budding, grass growing, birds chirping—and the vaccine. I’m super excited for the vaccine (whenever it becomes my turn in line).
So, there is much to look forward to in the coming weeks (including books!). And as we make our way through March, and the days get longer, I begin to look for signs of spring in the literature I read.
Here are three recent LGBTQ titles that have me pining for a new season.
Gay Bar: Why We Went Out by Jeremy Atherton Lin
The first thing I’m going to do once the pandemic is over is go have a drink in a gay bar. I am dying for that immediate sense of connection with my community. For gay bars are more than just watering holes. They are significant cultural spaces that have played an important role in queer socializing for decades.
This is something Jeremy Atherton Lin explores in his debut Gay Bar: Why We Went Out. A work of creative non-fiction, the book offers a cultural history of the space. Lin shares his own personal stories of experience in bars, taking us into dark boxes in London, LA and San Francisco. There, he recounts the sights, smells and tastes he’s encountered along the way, asking us to consider the importance such spaces play in our lives (especially as gay bars continue to close around the world).
Kink, edited by R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell
Touch is another thing I’m missing. And hugging (and maybe even deeply kissing—lol!) my friends will definitely be something I’ll be doing once this is all over. This collection of 15 essays written by a superhero roster of contemporary queer writers—including Alexander Chee, Carmen Maria Machado and Kim Fu—has got me thinking about the need for physical connection.
Edited by Garth Greenwell (Cleanness and What Belongs to You) and R.O. Kwon (The Incendiaries), Kink is a thrilling anthology of short fiction that explores love and desire in all of its strange and quirky forms. In “Oh Youth,” Booker finalist Brandon Taylor writes about a young man hired by a rich married couple to spend the summer with them. And in “Safeword,” co-editor Kwon writes about a man and a woman who engages a dominatrix to help them explore the world of BDSM. Together, the stories offer a titillating tour of underground sex clubs, private estates and therapists’ offices.
Small Courage by Jane Byers
I’m also missing family too—both biological and chosen. In Jane Byers’s memoir Small Courage, she writes about both.
A poet and athlete, Byers recounts her own story, coming out as lesbian during the 1990s and meeting her partner. The two quickly decide to start a family and look into adoption. This was in the early 2000s when same-sex parents had just been permitted to list both names on an adoption application. When a call came through saying that twins were available, Jane and her partner were overjoyed. However, the young kids were living with their foster parents—evangelical Christians in the Okanagan—and it was recommended, for the children’s sake, that Jane and her partner live with the family for two weeks to see if it was a fit.
This book is a wonderful and moving memoir that explores one couple’s queer adoption journey and what it means to be a family.
Gay Bar: Why We Went Out
by Jeremy Atherton Lin
edited by R.O. Kwon
and Garth Greenwell
by Jane Byers