Reading may be a solitary experience, but for some of us, it let us know that we were not alone. While everyone’s story is different, many of us are united by our love of books and our belief that they have the power to bring us together and to show us that when we’re different, as Nicola Griffith writes, “we can be glad to be so.” Growing up gay can feel like an excruciatingly isolating experience, particularly without the resources to understand what it is exactly that makes you so different. Books gave us not only a sense of who we were, but who we could be. So whether you hid a copy of A Boy’s Own Story under the bed or kept Fingersmith in your sock drawer, between the covers we were able to find a world for ourselves within the world.
To that end, we asked some of our authors what books spoke to them when they were coming out, asserting their identities, or putting a name to their desires. Below you will find a makeshift canon of works that served as “goads, guides, and balms” to FSG’s own Frank Bidart, Nicola Griffith, Jesse Bering, Maureen N. McLane, and Carl Phillips.