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.
There are actually a couple of book clubs at the LGBT Center in NYC. This is the one I attend. It’s a very smart and democratic group. Upcoming books:
Mar 6: “By Nightfall” novel by Michael Cunningham
Apr 3: “Edward II” Elizabethan blank-verse drama by Christopher Marlowe
May 1: Three plays by Noel Coward: “Blithe Spirit,” “Hay Fever,” and “Private Lives”
Sept 11: “Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward” biography by Justin Spring
Oct 2: “Blue Boy” coming-out story by Rakesh Satyal
Nov 6: “In a Strange Room” novel by South African author Damon Galgut
Dec 4: “Giovanni’s Room” important gay novel by James Baldwin
Jan 8, 2013: “Dark Reflections” speculative novel by Samuel Delaney
See http://www.howardwill.com/BookClub.htm for more info.
Too many of the choices of these bookclubs suck, though. Tales Of the City ? Giovanni’s Room? overrated (but I guess it doesn’t hurt to get it under your belt). Where’s Billy Budd, Midnight Cowboy, the poems of Abu Nuwas, Capote’s Answered Prayers, Maurice..
@CBRad: They are waiting for you to start a book club spotlighting them.
@Oscar Raymundo: I wish. But I doubt any gay orgs. are waiting for me, or anyone, to start a group where the books are actually good. Now if I started with LYRICS/POETRY OF LADY GAGA they’d come swarming.
@CBRad: You never know, CBrad. I know the odds are low, but you might not be the only gay man in New York City with good taste in literature 🙂 You’ll never know until you start that club.
@CBRad: You’d be surprised how receptive organizations can be to community-driven projects. I understand though it’s easier to whine and make excuses and bitch on a blog than actually go out there, get involved and try and make a difference.
@Oscar Raymundo: I agree with that. I still think the choices those groups are making are awful, though. But that’s just my own opinion and I agree maybe I shouldn’t criticize those groups if I don’t belong to them.
@Mr. Robertson: You’re right, I’ll never know for sure. But I think I know enough about Manhattan gays (and that awful Center) to be comfortable with my guess. I’ll stick with my own circle of buds (Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island) thanks.
@Oscar Raymundo: Great post! I really appreciate you spotlighting these clubs and hope to hear about many more in the comments section!
Bryan Rafael Aguilar Raymundo
NICE JOB OSCAR!
The L.A. link didn’t work. Here is the correct one:
Alan down in Florida
I am part of a discussion group sponsored by SAGE of South Florida and have been for over a decade. We are currently meeting at the Stonewall Library and Archives at 1300 E Sunrise Blvd in Fort Lauderdale. The group meets the second Saturday of every month (except for December when we have a tea and tree trimming get together)at 2PM and generally lasts from 60-75 minutes.
Our book for February was Tom Spanbauer’s “The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon” (having read his “In The City Of Shy Hunters” several years ago. This month’s book is Michael Cunningham’s “By Nightfall” which will be discussed on March 10, 2012. Looking ahead to April we will be reading the latest Allan Hollinghurst “The Stranger’s Child.”
The group is run democratically and the selections are chosen by the members of the group and suggestions are always welcome.
Always looking for new members so come join us.
I am an administrator of the Hard Cover Book Club in Ottawa Canada, which is still small small but growing. Our books are chosen by our members, and contrary to some comments above, don’t suck in my opinion. See http://www.facebook.com/groups/286581068031016/
Any LGBT book clubs in Boston???
Hope you guys check out my first novel “After the Dawn”
For Lieutenant Samantha ‘Sammy’ Yates, leaving the Marines wasn’t an option she ever wanted. Forced out of the service because of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she tries to move on with her life– putting up a good facade to those who don’t know her very well. Alone, however; she is plagued with battle scars she can’t shake even two years after her tour.
When successful psychiatrist, Sara Lawson, decided to move back to the only place she ever felt safe, the last thing she had on her mind was falling in love. Deciding to renovate the home she inherited from her grandmother, she crosses paths with Sammy, who is now working as a contractor. Sara spots something kindred in the woman’s hardened, but kind blue eyes.
Each hiding their own secrets in the small Florida town, they both realize that the walls they had spent years perfecting have started to crack around one another. As they slowly build a friendship, can they keep each other safe from the danger that is speeding towards them?
Good afternoon! My name is John Collins. I am a newly published author of ‘Virgin to the Life’, available in eBook and paperback through Amazon.com. It is the depiction of a young man named Jason, coming into his own in terms of his sexuality. His parents have discovered the secret he has been trying to keep under wraps for so long. He decides that he must fend for himself after his parents confront him about his sexuality and show a side of them unfamiliar to him. Jason decides to join the military, and seeks like minded individuals to befriend, experiences his first club, first pride, first love and the consequences that come along with his new found freedom.
‘Virgin to the Life’, available now through Amazon.com in eBook and paperback. Thank you in advance for your support…
Screenwriter, Children’s Book Author, and Stay-at-Home Dad, Chad Gilkison, presents Little Chad, a memoir about what it’s like to grow up gay in a small Ohio farming town and survive.
Have you read The Gamma Boy?
Not exactly Hemingway, but a great read.
Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia has hosted our book group, Reading Queerly, for over nine years, and it’s still going strong. You can find out what books we’re reading on the website, here: http://www.phillyaidsthriftatgiovannisroom.com/ or you can like our Facebook group, Reading Queerly.
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