Seminal works of LGBT fiction everyone should read

Better together.
Better together.
Image: AP/Bullit Marquez
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As a tearful Lin-Manuel Miranda accepted a Tony Award for the musical Hamilton on Sunday, he read an original sonnet reminding watchers to “fill the world with music, love, and pride.”

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love,” said Miranda, to applause.

Miranda was referring to the deadliest shooting in US history, which took place that morning (June 12) at a gay club in Orlando, Florida and claimed the lives of 50 people, including the shooter, Omar S. Mateen. The attack came during Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride month in the US. And while the motivations of Mateen are still undetermined, it’s a moment for solidarity with the country’s LGBT community and allies.

Weird, soul-filling, heart-crushing, irrational, love isn’t something that belongs only between certain genders. It happens, horribly, wonderfully, accidentally to everyone. This month, read books that celebrate love of all kinds, and uphold an important tradition in English and American cultural history:

  • Stone Butch Blues (1993), by Leslie Feinberg

In Stone Butch Blues, Leslie Feinberg traces the struggles of the main character, Jess, as she transitions from female to male.

  • Angels in America (1992), by Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner’s probing, powerful play about politics and sexual morality follows eight characters at the beginnings of the AIDS crisis.

  • The Color Purple (1982), by Alice Walker

Alice Walker’s brutal and exhilarating novel spans the life of Celie, an uneducated black woman, through the letters that unravel her search for love and empowerment, and the strong women who help her find her way.

  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985), by Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson’s coming out/coming of age novel depicts a curious, difficult girl growing up in a fanatically religious English household, and traces parallels between religious ecstasy and adolescent love.

  • Kiss of the Spider Woman (1978), by Manuel Puig

The novel by Argentinian Manuel Puig follows a conversation between cellmates Molina and Valentín, as they describe scenes from their favorite films into the darkness.

  • A Single Man (1964), by Christopher Isherwood

The slim meditation on grief by an icon of LGBT literature follows one day in the life of George, who lost his partner, Jim, in a car accident.

  • Giovanni’s Room (1956), by James Baldwin

In James Baldwin’s bold, confessional classic, David recounts his love affair with Giovanni on the night the latter is to be executed for murder.

  • Orlando (1928), by Virginia Woolf

This modernist classic by Virginia Woolf, inspired by her lover Vita Sackville-West, stars Orlando, a 16th-century nobleman who moves between genders and across three centuries, the embodiment of fluid identity.