With gay bookstores closing at an alarming rate, we LGBT-lit lovers congregate wherever we can. The Magnet health clinic in San Francisco’s Castro district, for example, offers a book club that draws a sizable crowd each month. (No wonder it was named GayCities’ Best Community Space in 2010.)
I’ve moderated Magnet’s book club since 2009 and, this year, we’ve started asking local authors to be a part of the experience. Back in January, we welcomed Justin Torres, out author of the critically-acclaimed We the Animals. His debut novel, it tells the story of three brothers growing up in a mixed-race household in upstate New York. The protagonist goes from roughhousing with his brothers to feeling immensely alienated after discovering his same-sex attractions.
Torres spoke frankly about embracing the labels of “queer writer” and “Latino writer,” but he was quick to point out that the novel was a work of fiction, not a memoir. (Even though he also has two brothers and grew up in a mixed-raced household in upstate New York. Hmm…)
Magnet’s March book club selection is K.M. Soehnlein’s coming-of-age/coming-out novel The World of Normal Boys. We’ll be welcoming Soehnlein on March 26.
But you can find a queer-literary community even if you’re not in a gay mecca like San Francisco. Check out our list of gay book clubs across the country to find one near you!
Are you part of an LGBT book club? Share the details in the comments below!
Big Gay Book Group (Washington, DC): This club is all about “explosive” gay-themed fiction and non-fiction including works by Larry Kramer, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dan Savage. On March 14, they will meet to talk about Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr. and in April they will read the gay classic The Boys in the Band.
BookMenDC (Washington, DC): If meeting just once a month does not satisfy you, BookMenDC might be the answer. This gay book club meets twice a month, on the first and third Wednesdays, at the Tenley-Friendship public library. Upcoming selections include The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles and The Lavender Scare by David K. Johnson.
Lambda Lit Book Club (Los Angeles, CA): Co-sponsored by the West Hollywood Library, this club meets the last Tuesday of the month, with discussions led by Lambda executive director Tony Valenzuela and special guests. March’s selection is the just-released Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron.
Gay and Lesbian Reading Group, (New York, NY): Celebrating its 30th anniversary, this group meets every second Thursday of the month at New York’s LGBT Center. Group members vote on topics and titles, which alternate between male and female writers. (Past books have included Tales of the City, Patti Smith’s Just Kids and Their Eyes Were Watching God.) Jean Genet’s Querelle is up next on March 8.
Seattle Gay and Lesbian Book Club (Seattle, WA): A project of Seattle Area Support Groups (SASG), this book club aims to introduce a new generation to queer classics that have shaped the gay experience. They meet each Wednesday evening.
Rainbow Book Club (Ann Arbor, MI): At the Jim Toy Community Center University of Michigan students and friends get together the second Sunday of each month to discuss gay favorites by the likes of James Baldwin and Alison Bechdel. On March 11 they’ll discuss Like Me by Cheryl Wright.
Gerber/Hart Library Book Clubs (Chicago, IL): The queer archives in Chicago has three active book clubs: one for gay men, one for lesbians and a group discussing bi, trans and queer-themed literature.