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Best LGBT Biographies & Memoirs

andrew potter
And the Rainbow Award goes to:



1) Dirk Vanden - It Was Too Soon Before ()

I found it very difficult to put the book down and would often mull over what I'd read other times. Mr Vanden's ability to draw me into the story was fantastic; his recitation of his history was enthralling. Most of all it was him being true to himself I found the most inspiring. I experienced a raft of emotions as well: anger, sympathy, heartbreak, excitement, and always fascination. –Kathy

Top marks, extraordinary! –Lee


Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press (April 18, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590213548
ISBN-13: 978-1590213544
Amazon: It Was Too Soon Before... The unlikely life, untimely death, and unexpected rebirth of Gay Pioneer, Dirk Vanden

It Was Too Soon Before... is the autobiography of Richard Fullmer who wrote under the penname Dirk Vanden. He was a serious novelist in the early days of the development of the gay literary genre. His first books were published--augmented with sex scenes inserted by the publisher--as porn pulps. This autobiography tells the story of his life from his upbringing as a devout Mormon to his discovery of sexual realities, to his move to the gay meccas of San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1960s and discovery of the thriving gay counterculture with all its sexual and psychedelic dimensions, through the death by AIDS of his longtime partner, to retirement and obscurity, to a ''rebirth'' as his books have been rediscovered by modern gay literary scholars. Included is ''The Wit & Wisdom of Gabriel Horny,'' a collection of humor and wisdom in short aphorisms that express the profound and often whimsical spiritual wisdom Vanden has garnered through his seventy-eight years.

2) Jack Scott - Perking the Pansies ()

A really excellent book. Funny and insightful and poignant all at once. It's a memoir that reads like a novel, with a lively and entertaining cast of supporting characters and a lot to say about a culture not many Westerners know much about. –Kate Mc.

The book is written in a conversational style that made me think of sitting down with a close friend and listening to a lot of wacky and (occasionally) bittersweet stories. I was so caught up with the narrative that I was surprised by the time I got to the end. The author wrote a memoir that touched on the human experience in a way that as honest and thought-provoking. –Luce


Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Summertime (December 22, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1904881645
ISBN-13: 978-1904881643
Amazon: Perking the Pansies - Jack and Liam move to Turkey

Jack and Liam, fed up with kiss-my-arse bosses and nose-to-nipple commutes, quit their jobs and move to a small town in Turkey. Join the culture-curious gay couple on their bumpy rite of passage in a Muslim country. Meet the oddballs, VOMITs, vetpats, emigreys, semigreys, debauched waiters and middle England miseries. When bigotry and ignorance emerge from the crude underbelly of Turkey's expat life, Jack and Liam waver. Determined to stay the course, the happy hedonistas hitch up their skirts, move to the heart of liberal Bodrum and fall in love with their intoxicating foster land. Enter Jack's irreverent world for a right royal dose of misery and joy, bigotry and enlightenment, betrayal and loyalty, friendship, love, earthquakes, birth, adoption and a senseless murder. Perking the Pansies will make you laugh out loud one minute and sob into your crumpled tissue the next.

3-tie) Greg Hogben - The British Devil

At first I thought the book was mismarked as non-fiction because the book was written in such a brilliant fiction style, which was engaging and funny. But the hard cold fact is I know such horrible realities exist for bi-national couples in love but Mr. Hobson wrote this with such flair, that I enjoyed the story of Danny and Greg while the message came across loud and clear. Read it and fall in love all over again. –Lori

Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (July 30, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1613726198
ISBN-13: 978-1613726198
Amazon: The British Devil

British national Greg Stephens knew there would be challenges in his new relationship with handsome American Navy officer Danny Taylor: long distance; Don't Ask, Don't Tell; the Defense of Marriage Act; US immigration.... But he didn't anticipate his greatest obstacle: Danny's born-again Christian mother, Vivien. A secretary in a small-town Southern Baptist church in Texas, she bristles at Greg's secular beliefs. Through passive-aggressive manipulation, subtle deceit, or outright battle, Vivien resolves to banish Greg and return Danny to the fold, come hell or high water. Greg's hold on Danny's heart is pitted against Vivien's crusade for Danny's soul. All the while, Greg devotes himself to keeping Danny happy while negotiating the cultural differences of his life in America. Danny's new career as a lawyer takes them from his native Texas to New York. But with Vivien testing Greg's stiff upper lip at every turn, something has to give. The British Devil is a semiautobiographical novel exploring culture, religion, and love in a binational relationship.

Red Haircrow - Silence Is Multi-Colored In My World ()

Essays of a profoundly deaf gay man, who moved to Germany from Russia at the age of 14. I found myself immediately drawn into Haircrow’s work. His use of Essays as a frame for his writing allowed him to paint unique portraits from moments of his life, his thoughts, & experiences. Perhaps due to being a non-native speaker, Haircrow’s English has a lyrical quality about it that colors his words & phrases. –Linda E.

Having read a few of Red Haircrow's books—and enjoying them—I was intrigued with this autobiography and the author's reminiscences. I was pleased to discover the same deft hand here as in his other work. There is a lot of deep introspection where I would find myself bogged down in minutiae, but at the same time it gave the story its full flavour. I find myself wanting to discover more of Red Haircrow's books. –Kathy


Publisher: Flying With Red Haircrow (May 10, 2012)
Amazon Kindle: Silence Is Multi-Colored In My World

An imaginative collection of memories and observations written from the perspective of a young man who was orphaned early, who was gay, deaf and Russian. He was simple and complex, light-hearted and serious, whimsical and infinitely strong, and when he loved, he loved with all his heart and soul. A former sex worker and later a husband, he was an amateur activist and philosopher, a startlingly intelligent, passionate individual able to intensely appreciate even the small wonders of the world and the people for whom he cared. Part diary, part dialogue, and part rhetoric, “Silence Is Multi-colored in My World” is based on actual experiences. It is a literary portrait of a man with nothing to hide and everything to reveal. It is a slice into the willing veins of a mental and emotional free bleeder. A memoir/biography with photos.

Honorable Mention:



5) Charles Silverstein - For the Ferryman ()

Charles Silverstein’s memoir of his days as gay activist and his long-term relationship with William (who will die to AIDS). In a way, it seemed the author didn't like himself *or* his partner in the retelling, and that is the reason why this is a difficult read, since it was non-fiction, and thought real, I felt bad for him. –Jorgi-Anne

Paperback: 342 pages
Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions (October 13, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983285128
ISBN-13: 978-0983285120
Amazon: For the Ferryman

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