LGBTQIA+ Literary History

By FPL_Ryan

With PRIDE month coming to an end, here are a list of impactful LGBTQ+ works published throughout the last 100 years.

Orlando by Virginia Woolf: Published in 1928

A satirical look at English literature where our main character, Orlando, begins the story as a young nobleman and by the end of the novel has transitioned into 36-year-old woman and has been living for centuries. The novel addresses gender and trans issues throughout the centuries and is considered a staple in women’s and trans literature.

Passing by Nella Larsen: Published in 1929

This novella explores the budding infatuation between Clare and Irene who are light-skinned and passing as white women. While not overtly LGBTQ+, the story implies a romantic relationship between the two women.

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith: Published in 1952

A romance novel that inspired the movie “Carol” produced in 2014 starring Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett. This is one of the first lesbian love stories to provide a happy ending for the primary couple.

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin: Published in 1956

James Baldwin is known for his exploration of issues regarding race and sexuality. Giovanni’s Room explores bisexuality in a very heartfelt and meaningful way. This novel also touches on insecurities with our main character’s masculinity. 

Tales Of The City Vol. 1 by Armistead Maupin: Published in 1978

Beginning as a newspaper serial in the San Francisco Chronicle, this series grew to be a nine-novel series, a radio series, and a PBS mini-series centering on life in San Francisco. With many characters in the story identifying as a part of the LGBTQ+ community that takes a comedic approach to the time period.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker: Published in 1982

A novel that won its author, Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize in 1983. She was the first black woman to win the prize. This novel is a truly intersectional story focusing on race, abuse, and even homosexuality. It was made into a Steven Spielberg movie in 1985, turned into a Broadway musical in 2005, winning a Tony for Best Revival in 2016, and is set to have a film version of the musical release in 2023.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: Published in 2002

Cal is raised as a girl and is attracted to girls. However, as they continue to age, they start to understand a new term, intersex. The term refers to someone that is born with more than one reproductive anatomy parts or reproductive parts that are not typical. Cal continues to question and become curious about their gender and sexual identity throughout the novel. The novel won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: Published in 2006

A graphic novel memoir encapsulating the main character coming to terms with her sexuality and dealing with a tenuous relationship with her father. This story helped solidify the graphic novel format as a reputable way of telling memoirs.

Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman: Published in 2007

A romance taking place in Italy between Elio and the college student Oliver. Oliver has come to Italy to help research with Elio’s father. The story has been adapted into a movie released in 2017 featuring Timothee Chalamet.

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood: Produced in 2009 based on a novel Published in 1964

This story takes place over one day following the sudden death of George’s partner. George is an English professor that is looking for beauty and meaning in the world around him following this horrific incident.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: Published in 2012

An extremely popular book that is a retelling of The Iliad following the perspective of Patroclus. The story chronicles his relationship with Achilles starting from their meeting during the Trojan War. It primarily focuses on the romantic relationship between these two men.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: Published in 2019

A novel following the budding romance between the First Son of the United States and a British prince in the year 2020. This romance also explores the lifestyle of these political figures in a charming and comedic light.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong: Published in 2019

A story written in the form of a letter to the main character’s illiterate mother. The novel explores a complex relationship with the Vietnamese American main character and his mother following the events of the Vietnam War. This includes a fractured main character who is coming to terms with his sexuality and the strain it put on him and his mother’s relationship.

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