LGBT Books Recommended by Senate House Library Staff
To celebrate LGBT History Month, we have put together recommendations from Senate House Library staff for you to explore and enjoy…
A quick & easy guide to they/them pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson (2018)
A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns is in the form of a comic with the narrative being a conversation between Archie who is non-binary and his friend (and co-author) Tristan who is a cisgender person i.e. people whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds to the gender they were assigned at birth. Although this book is written with great humour, it is unapologetic about its subject matter and Archie and Tristan explain how we can use language that is more inclusive in our everyday lives. While this book is mostly aimed towards people who are new to the concept of gender-neutral pronouns, it also has some valuable content for non-binary people. Using their own experiences, Bongiovanni and Jimerson discuss ways non-binary people can come out to friends and family with examples of how they have handled people close to them who refused to use their preferred pronouns.
I have chosen this book because it elegantly illustrates an important topic in a humorous and accessible way. This book shows how using the right pronoun can make non-gender binary people feel more welcome. Helping us to encourage and celebrate diversity through the use of more inclusive language.
This book is part of the SHL Wellbeing Collection that contains a selection of resources to support the wellbeing and mental health of all our members.
Recommended by Emma Fitzpatrick, Serial and Digital Resources Coordinator
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (1969)
In the preface to The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin writes: “The truth is a matter of the imagination.” The Left Hand of Darkness is a science fiction novel about how new truths and realities are formed by our interactions with ways of life foreign to ourselves. Genly Ai, an envoy from a future version of our Earth to the planet Gethen, encounters a society in which all individuals are ambisexual, or have no fixed sex. At first, his attempts to comprehend the Gethenian people are stymied by his own socio-cultural and gendered assumptions. It leads him to distrust those who are on his side, above all the Gethenian politician, Estraven. It is only almost two thirds through the book in a tender scene of true closeness that Genly accepts his companion and reimagines his world.
I heartily recommend this book as an imaginative book of science fiction that examines how concepts of gender shape our societies and cultures and moving beyond them towards mutual human acceptance and understanding.
Recommended by Argula Rublack, Academic Librarian
Bent by Martin Sherman (1979)
This play tells the story of Max, who is arrested with his boyfriend Rudy and sent to the Dachau concentration camp in Nazi Germany. At first, he identifies himself as a Jew, feeling this may aid his surviving the camp. After much mental and personal loss, he accepts who he is within the camp and takes the pink triangle (prisoners were given badges to identify their 'crimes'; homosexuals were given a 'pink triangle') before his tragic end.
I highly recommend Martin Sherman's ground-breaking play Bent which powerfully highlights the plight of homosexuals under Nazi regime from 1933-1945, in which between 5,000 to 15,000 men were killed in death camps. I used this in my research on the topic of homosexuals & Jehovah's Witnesses in the Third Reich (available at the Wiener Library).
Recommended by Leslie Crang, Collection Management Assistant
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (2019)
This Booker Prize winning novel follows the journey of 12 black British women, exploring identity and cultural differences across the generations. Evaristo presents a rich and diverse variety of experiences through the family and friendships of these characters, while showing how cultural landscapes and perceptions shift and mould over time. There’s Amma who is a polyamorous lesbian-playwright; Megan/Morgan who is a non-binary social media influencer and Dominique who is a lesbian feminist and domestic abuse survivor, working as a music festival producer, to name only a few. Sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, age, class, and disability are all explored against the backdrop of modern Britain.
Girl, Woman, Other is an invigorating book that is written with passion, poetry and wit, giving a powerful voice to many underrepresented communities in the literary canon, without glossing over any of the difficult issues to continue the conversation and the importance of intersectionality.
Recommended by Rebecca Simpson, Head of Engagement
Aye, and Gomorrah by Samuel R. Delaney (1967)
Aye, and Gomorrah is a short story first published in Harlan Ellison's seminal 1967 anthology Dangerous Visions, and won the 1967 Nebula Award for best short story. It is narrated by a castrated space explorer, and revolves around how he and his kind are fetishized by people back on Earth called ‘frelks’. Aye, and Gomorrah is one of many remarkably interesting and unusual fictions that Delaney has used to tackle a wide breadth of issues: class, memory, language, sexuality, perception, race; all with an intellect and originality still not available in mainstream writing. Delany was born in Harlem, New York and has identified as gay since adolescence. He has written about his experiences with racism, homophobia, and the difficulties of succeeding as a Black and gay writer in a genre commonly dominated by heteronormative white writers and narratives in his numerous essays.
Unfortunately, he is often left out of established lists of “Great Science Fiction Writers” because of the highly sexual nature of his stories, but I think readers may find that through the explicitly erotic and alien, he creates characters and experiences universally human.
I first came across the works of Samuel Delany while researching the New Wave literary movement of the 1960s. Many strange and beautiful things were written in the ever-evolving genre of science fiction at the time, but the works of Samuel Delany are some of the most profound, bizarre, and commemorated.
Recommended by Alea Baker, Library Customer Service Officer (Special Collections)