READING ROOM

Queerty Readers Recommend More Must-Read Gay Memoirs And Biographies

Winter is upon us, which means it’s the perfect time to curl up with a blanket, a steaming hot mug of cocoa, and a good book.

Last week, we shared a list of 15 must-read gay memoirs and biographies, and in response we were inundated with comments, tweets, and e-mails from Queerty readers with even more great recommendations. So, without further ado, here they are.

Check out these gay memoir and biography recommendations from Queerty readers.

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Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade by Justin Spring

Nominated for the 2010 National Book Award, Secret Historian recounts the life and times of gay novelist, poet, and university professor Samuel M. Steward, who left the world of academe to pursue a career as a tattoo artist in Chicago, then as a writer of gay smut books. Through secret diaries, never-before-seen journal entries and sexual records, Secret Historian offers a moving portrait of homosexual life long before Stonewall and the gay liberation.

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Fire Shut Up In My Bones by Charles M. Blow

In his new book, bisexual writer Charles M. Blow talks about growing up in a African-American town in Louisiana, his mother, and the secret abuse he suffered at the hands of his older cousin. After several years, Blow escapes to a nearby state university, where he joins a black fraternity after a passage of brutal hazing, and then enters a world of racial and sexual privilege that feels like everything he’s ever needed and wanted, until he’s called upon, himself, to become the one perpetuating the shocking abuse.

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Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews and Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill

These are two separate memoirs written by transgender teens Arin Andrew and Katie Rain Hill who made headlines last year when they shared their story on 20/20. 19-year-old Hill was in the process of transitioning from male to female when she fell in love with 18-year-old Andrews, who was undergoing his own transition from female to male. The book was originally going to be a shared memoir, but their editor, Christian Trimmer, said in a press release, “It quickly became clear that the world needed to hear their individual stories.”

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Prick Up Your Ears by John Lahr

Prick Up Your Ears is the biography of playwright and novelist Joe Orton, whose public career spanned only three years, but who’s work made a lasting mark on the international stage. A rising star and undeniable talent, Orton left much undone when he was bludgeoned to death by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, who had educated Orton and also dreamed of becoming a famous writer.

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Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro by André Soares

Ramon Novarro first arrived in Hollywood in 1916 as a refugee from the civil wars that rocked Mexico in the early twentieth century. By the mid-1920s, he had become one of MGM’s most important leading men. Today, his most enduring claim to fame is his tragic death — his bloodied corpse was found in his house on Halloween in 1968 in what has become one of the most infamous scandals in the vast lore of Hollywood. Through original interviews with Novarro’s surviving friends, family, coworkers, and the two men convicted of his murder, Beyond Paradise presents a full picture of the man who made motion picture history — from his amazing rise to stardom to the destructive conflicts faced by this traditional Catholic Mexican man who was also a gay film star.

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Assisted Loving by Bob Morris

Subtitled “True Tales of Double Dating With My Dad,” Morris is a gay son who gets to tag along with his 80-year-old father Joe, who is now single and still plenty horny. At the same time, Morris obsesses with his own problems as a flabby, middle-aged guy looking for love in Manhattan’s youth-obsessed gay scene, while also turning into a bit of a yenta for fun-loving dad. This breezy memoir will get you thinking about how much your own perceptions of Dear Old Dad are colored by your own expectations — and why parents aren’t the only ones who feel disappointed when their family member doesn’t quite adhere to those psychic constraints.

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The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp

Quentin Crisp not only came out as a gay man in 1931, when the slightest sign of homosexuality shocked public sensibilities, but he did so with grand and provocative flamboyance, determined to spread the message that homosexuality did not exclude him or anyone else from the human race. His hilarious descriptions of encounters with parents, friends, employers, soldiers and sailors, and the law reveal the strength and humor of an honest man, determined to face the world with the uncensored, unapologetic truth about himself.

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Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram

Winner of the 2013 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction, Eminent Outlaws examines the group of gay writers who established themselves as major figures in American culture — Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, Christopher Isherwood, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, and more. With authority and humor, Christopher Bram weaves these men’s ambitions, affairs, feuds, loves, and appetites into a single sweeping narrative that chronicles over fifty years of momentous change — from civil rights to Stonewall to AIDS and beyond.

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All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C. by Craig Seymour

All I Could Bare is the story of a mild-mannered graduate student who “took the road less clothed” and became a male stripper. Craig Seymour embarked on his journey in the 1990s, when Washington, D.C.’s gay club scene was notoriously no-holds-barred, all the while trying to keep his newfound vocation a secret from his parents and maintain a relationship with his boyfriend. Along the way he met some unforgettable characters — the fifty-year-old divorcé who’s obsessed with a twenty-one-year-old dancer, the celebrated drag diva who hailed from a small town in rural Virginia, and the many straight guys who were “gay for pay.”

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In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology edited by Joseph Beam

29 black authors explore what it means to be doubly different — both black and gay — in 1980s America. These stories, essays, verses, and other works of art voice the concerns and aspirations of an often silent minority. They range betwen poignant, erotic, resolute and angry, but always reflect the affirming power of coming together to build a strong black gay community. In the introduction to the original 1986 edition, editor Joseph Beam wrote, “The bottom line is this: We are Black men who are proudly gay. What we offer is our lives, our love, our visions…We are coming home with our heads held up high.”

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Fosse by Sam Wasson

The only person ever to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards all in the same year, Bob Fosse, who was hetero but as gay-friendly as anyone in the arts) revolutionized nearly every facet of American entertainment. His signature style would influence generations of performing artists. Yet in spite of Fosse’s innumerable achievements — which include directing Cabaret, Pippin, All That Jazz and Chicago, one of the longest-running Broadway musicals ever — his offstage life was shadowed by deep wounds and insatiable appetites. Bestselling author Sam Wasson draws on a wealth of unpublished material and hundreds of sources — friends, enemies, lovers, and collaborators, many of them speaking publicly about Fosse for the first time — to offer readers the definitive biography of one of Broadway and Hollywood’s most complex and dynamic icons.

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The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts

Known as “The Mayor of Castro Street” even before he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk’s personal life, public career, and death reflect the dramatic emergence of the gay community as a political power in the 1970s America. Randy Shilt’s biography offers a story full of personal tragedies and political intrigues, assassinations at City Hall, massive riots in the streets, the miscarriage of justice, and the consolidation of gay power and gay hope.

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