Good Minds Suggest—Dan Savage's Favorite LGBT Relationship Books

Posted by Goodreads on June 4, 2013
Dan Savage Dan Savage uses a brash and bawdy wit to discuss hot-button topics such as fetishes and safe sex in his long-running syndicated sex column and podcast, Savage Love. The writer and public speaker, who frequents CNN, NPR, and college campuses with equanimity, also mines his personal story as a gay man and parent in his memoirs, including The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant and The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family. In 2010, he launched the viral It Gets Better campaign to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Savage uses his signature humor to get political in his latest book, American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics. The Seattle-based writer shares his favorite books about LGBT relationships.

Faggots by Larry Kramer
"Anyone curious about what life was like for gay men—gay elites—in post-Stonewall/pre-AIDS New York City should read this 1978 satirical novel by Larry Kramer. It's a scathing and scathingly funny portrait of a world that was soon to be lost, the literary equivalent of the murals at Pompeii. Unable to find love and commitment in a culture overwhelmed by recreational drug use and rampant promiscuity, the novel's main character, Fred Lemish, exclaims near the end of the story, 'We're fucking ourselves to death!' We were, but no one knew it at the time—except for Larry Kramer."


The Persian Boy by Mary Renault
"And anyone curious about what life was like for gay men—and for castrated slave boys—in the court of Alexander the Great should read this novel. I don't read a lot of fiction in general, and I'm not a fan of historical fiction in particular. But I love Mary Renault's 1972 novel about Bagoas, the favorite of Persian Emperor Darius III. Alexander acquires Bagoas after invading Persia and toppling Darius and quickly falls in love with the boy himself. Gay people have existed throughout human history, but our lives and our loves were written out of the story. The Persian Boy brings an epic—and once lost—love story to life."


What Is Marriage For?: The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution by E.J. Graff
"One of the best books about marriage that I've ever read. Graff unpacks the long and varied history of 'our most intimate institution,' and in doing so demonstrates that marriage has changed before and can—and will—change again."


Eighty-Sixed by David B. Feinberg
"OK, another novel. Maybe I like novels more than I realized. But in all honesty I thought Eighty-Sixed was a memoir until I pulled it off the shelf. The first half of the story is set in 1980; the second half, in 1986. B.J. Rosenthal narrates his search for love in New York City in the years immediately before and after the AIDS epidemic slams into the city. As an ex-Catholic, how could I not love a book that opens with this sentence: 'The priest rarely masturbated during confession.'"


The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts
"This is much more than a biography of Harvey Milk. In telling Milk's story, the late San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts tells the story of gay and lesbian people in the United States in the 20th century. Required reading for anyone who wants to understand how gay and lesbian people created a community and organized politically to fight for our equality."



Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Best LGBTQIA Literature



Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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message 1: by chris (new)

chris Why anyone would want to read the cynical, finger-wagging writings of a tireless curmudgeon like Larry Kramer is beyond me.

For a much more poetic, celebratory account of the same time period, read Holleran's Dancer From the Dance. It is unquestionably one of the finest LGBT books ever written.


message 2: by Bob (new)

Bob chris wrote: "Why anyone would want to read the cynical, finger-wagging writings of a tireless curmudgeon like Larry Kramer is beyond me.

For a much more poetic, celebratory account of the same time period, rea..."


Chris, I agree with you regarding Dancer from the Dance, which is exquisitely, movingly written, truly a world-class novel. Reading Faggots is like taking a trip to a sexual hell, where every day is a variation of the one before. (Still, I do like Kramer's play, The Normal Heart, which at least has characters one can identify with.)


message 3: by Bob (new)

Bob All Mary Renault's historical fiction is worth reading. The Last of the Wine, about a soldier and his younger lover, is my favorite, but I confess it's a five-hankie book.


message 4: by Bob (new)

Bob Jerry wrote: "Why you choose this hater to review or suggest anything is beyond me."

WHO is the "hater" you refer to and why do you think he's a hater specifically?


message 5: by Bob (new)

Bob You weren't specific and you're still not specific regarding alleged "hateful tactics" and "attack dog messaging." But you're clearly referring to Dan Savage. I know a great deal of good Dan has done for young people by starting the "It Gets Better" campaign to prevent teen and pre-teen suicides. (If you've done a fraction as much good in your own life, Jerry, for anyone, I'm sure we'd all like to hear about it.) As for "attacks," I'm aware that Dan's gone after homophobic, hate-filled so-called Christians, and if THAT'S the agenda you're referring to, I very much agree with Dan Savage and endorse these attacks wholeheartedly.


message 6: by Brett (new)

Brett Jobling Bob wrote: "You weren't specific and you're still not specific regarding alleged "hateful tactics" and "attack dog messaging." But you're clearly referring to Dan Savage. I know a great deal of good Dan has do..."

Thankyou Bob for taking Jerry to task. You can tell a lot about people from what they read, in Jerry's case it's Scientology and Zombies. Hmmmm


message 7: by Matthew (new)

Matthew I love 86'd. The chapter entitled Some Queens remains one I tell folks about to this day.

My favorite gay relationship book, though, has to be Surprising Myself by Christopher Bram. It was, to me, the first modern gay book that didn't treat being gay as a pathology or as part of a struggle. And it gave me tremendous hope. If you haven't read it, you really should.


message 8: by Bob (new)

Bob Brett wrote: "Bob wrote: "You weren't specific and you're still not specific regarding alleged "hateful tactics" and "attack dog messaging." But you're clearly referring to Dan Savage. I know a great deal of goo..."

Well, then, Brett, perhaps such mindless, unspecific ad hominem attacks on Mr. Savage prophesy the coming of a zombie apocalypse in secret Scientology lore?


message 9: by Brett (new)

Brett Jobling Bob wrote: "Brett wrote: "Bob wrote: "You weren't specific and you're still not specific regarding alleged "hateful tactics" and "attack dog messaging." But you're clearly referring to Dan Savage. I know a gre..."

Sounds like the pitch for Tom cruise's next movie


message 10: by Brett (new)

Brett Jobling Who's a hate filled attack dog now, Jerry?


message 11: by Joan (new)

Joan Marshall I'm surprised anyone as stupid as Richard bothers to read at all.


message 12: by Brett (new)

Brett Jobling I'd encourage all good readers of this discussion to FLAG anything they regard as inappropriate hate speech


message 13: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Peterson It's interesting how you homophobes are such illiterate and bad spellers.


message 14: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Peterson Lynne wrote: "It's interesting how you homophobes are such illiterate and bad spellers."


message 15: by Bob (new)

Bob Joan wrote: "I'm surprised anyone as stupid as Richard bothers to read at all."

I doubt that Richard reads. People who don't know how to spell "you're" or "pants" seldom do, I find.


message 16: by Bob (new)

Bob Richard wrote: "Very good Brett, take away our right for free speech. Do you know what is happening in England? If you talk bad about islam, you get arrested. In Islam for being a queer means a death sentence. You..."

Richard, you have the right of free speech guaranteed in the First Amendment. However, Goodreads also has the right to delete any hate speech on their site if they choose. In other words, I suggest you start your own hate site and rant away or find some existing hate site, where you'll be welcome.


message 17: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Kerr Richard, instead of googling Boy Scouts how about you google sexual abuse towards children from priests of the church? Are you still so righteous?


message 18: by David (last edited Jun 07, 2013 12:55PM) (new)

David Le Livre Black - Jean Cocteau; Giovanni's Room - James Baldwin; Maurice - E.M. Forster

Most contemporary LGBT lit seems either self-righteous, claustrophobic, utopian, or mired in the past.


message 19: by Pa (new)

Pa haha... :))) grr >.<


message 20: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Peterson Pa wrote: "haha... :))) grr >.<"

pa is too esoteric for me is this some new cryptic keyboard messaging?


message 21: by Mark (new)

Mark Haile chris wrote: "Why anyone would want to read the cynical, finger-wagging writings of a tireless curmudgeon like Larry Kramer is beyond me.

For a much more poetic, celebratory account of the same time period, rea..."


Sadly, some of are old enough to remember BEFORE he became such a cynical old queen; he's always going to get older, but hope springs eternal his mood will lighten up a bit. (A lot of bits would help)


message 22: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Peterson after all Burroughs "lightened Up' so there's hope I guess-except then he died...Even Hitchens 'lightened up on his religious adversity but thanfk"god!" he didn't convert


message 23: by Amanda (last edited Jun 04, 2015 12:34PM) (new)

Amanda it´s only books about gay men. so everyone should read Sara Farizan she is dope Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel


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