Gay literature  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
homoerotic literature

Gay literature is a collective term for literature produced by or for the LGBT community which involves characters, plot lines, and/or themes portraying male homosexual behavior. The term is now used most commonly to cover specifically gay male literature, with a separate genre of lesbian literature existing for women. Historically, the term "gay literature" was sometimes used to cover both gay male and lesbian literatures.


Gay novel

The gay novel deals with male homosexual love and male homoeroticism. Novels that deal with homosexual love between women are usually referred to as lesbian novels. Some of the great works of Western literature were written by gay writers or by authors who are sympathetic to gay life and its concerns. Some of the more celebrated authors and works that touch on homosexual relationships, whether directly or indirectly, include:

To provide a general sense of the themes of gay novels, a brief description of the plots of several of the more celebrated books are included below:

  • In Death in Venice, middle-aged Gustav von Aschenbach, experiencing writer’s block, travels to Venice, where he becomes infatuated with a young Polish boy named Tadzio, seeking to persuade the youth that there is no need to flee the city because the news of an encroaching cholera epidemic are false.
  • In Giovanni’s Room, a man struggles with his sexual identity and the hidden desires that threaten his dream of living a conventional life. He proposes to a beautiful young woman only to find himself torn between his love for her and a newfound passion for another man.
  • A Boy’s Own Story is a coming-of-age story in which, during the 1950s, a teenage boy comes to terms with his homosexuality, learning that the love of other men gives his life meaning and value.
  • In his search for love among the gay hot spots of New York, Malone, the protagonist of Dancer From the Dance, visits Manhattan's Everard Baths, Fire Island's deserted parks, and sumptuous orgies. In Sutherland, a campy queen, he finds an enduring relationship with a well-traveled companion.
  • After the adolescent protagonist of Yukio Mishima's Confessions of a Mask discovers his homosexuality, he must adopt a proper persona, or mask, in the gracious society of post-war Japan.
  • In the ancient tale of the Satyricon, an early picaresque novel, two scholars travel the southern Mediterranean world during the reign of Emperor Nero, encountering a number of targets for the author’s satirical censure: a professor, a lustful priest, a vulgar freedman turned millionaire, a poet, a superstitious sea-captain, and a femme fatale. The pair are attracted to the same youth, a boy with more wiles and peccadilloes than either of his would-be suitors.

Some gay writers

A * Jacques d'Adelsward-Fersen * Vasily Aksyonov * Edward Albee * Francesco Algarotti * Horatio Alger, Jr. * Jerzy Andrzejewski * Kenneth Anger * Reinaldo Arenas * Willem Arondeus * John Ashbery * W. H. Auden

B * Francis Bacon * Paul Bailey * James Baldwin (writer) * Alan Ball (screenwriter) * Clive Barker * Roland Barthes * Brendan Behan * A. C. Benson * Peter Lamborn Wilson * John Boswell * Michel Marc Bouchard * Edwin Emmanuel Bradford * Christopher Bram * David Bret * David Brock * Oscar Browning * Chandler Burr * Augusten Burroughs * William S. Burroughs * Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

C * Andrew Calimach * Michael Callen * Truman Capote * Edward Carpenter * Constantine P. Cavafy * Luis Cernuda * Wayson Choy * Ralph Chubb * Jean Cocteau * Dennis Cooper * Noel Coward * Hart Crane * Quentin Crisp * Michael Cunningham

D * Guy Davenport * Russell T. Davies * Samuel R. Delany * Lord Alfred Douglas

F * Timothy Findley * E. M. Forster * Michel Foucault * Brad Fraser * Stephen Fry

G * Federico García Lorca * Jean Genet * Stefan George * David Gerrold * André Gide * Allen Ginsberg * Paul Goodman (writer) * Juan Goytisolo

H * Gerald Hannon * E. Lynn Harris * Tomson Highway * Alan Hollinghurst * Homoeroticism * Alfred Edward Housman * Richard Howard

I * Witi Ihimaera * William Inge * Christopher Isherwood

J * Max Jacob * Derek Jarman * Edmund John

K * James Kirkwood * Larry Kramer * Elisar von Kupffer * Tony Kushner

L * Bruce LaBruce * David Leavitt * Robert Lepage * José Lezama Lima * Lance Loud

M * Daniel MacIvor * Micheál MacLiammóir * John Henry Mackay * Alberto Manguel * Klaus Mann * Thomas Mann * Christopher Marlowe * William Somerset Maugham * Armistead Maupin * Frank McGuinness * Terrence McNally * James Merrill * Yukio Mishima * John Cameron Mitchell * Murathan Mungan

N * Émile Nelligan * John Beverly Nichols * John Gambril Nicholson * Henri Nouwen * Abu Nuwas

O * Joe Orton * Wilfred Owen

P * Pai Hsien-yung * Chuck Palahniuk * Morris Panych * Dale Peck * Stan Persky * Roger Peyrefitte * John Preston * Marcel Proust * Manuel Puig

R * John Rechy * Forrest Reid * Christopher Rice * Bill Richardson (radio) * Sinclair Ross * Geoff Ryman

S * Dan Savage * David Sedaris * Shyam Selvadurai * Randy Shilts * Labi Siffre * Michelangelo Signorile * Stephen Spender * Straton of Sardis * Andrew Sullivan * Vince Suzukawa

T * Michel Tremblay * Andrew Tobias * Colm Tóibín * Michel Tournier * Colin Turnbull

U * Karl Heinrich Ulrichs * Uranian poetry

V * Pierre Vallières * Paul Verlaine * Gore Vidal

W * Hugh Walpole * Tony Warren * William Whitehead (Canadian writer) * Walt Whitman * Oscar Wilde * Thornton Wilder * Tennessee Williams * Ludwig Wittgenstein * David Wojnarowicz * Gustav Wyneken


  • A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition - Gregory Woods
  • Queer Pulp: Perverted Passions from the Golden Age of the Paperback - Susan Stryker

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gay literature" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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