The following is a timeline of works of fiction where gay or bisexual men are the protagonists. This document will be updated with new literature as I read it.
- The Satyricon by Petronius: A satire of the decadence of first century Roman society, Petronius’ The Satyricon survives as a witty piece detailing the dangers of decadence and over-indulgence while being a testament to a long standing tradition of queer literature.
- Death in Venice by Thomas Mann: One of the first prominent gay novels published after the trial of Oscar Wilde, Death in Venice introduces the themes which we will be present throughout the gay literature of the 20th century.
- The Immortal by Walter Ross: Ross’ story provides a fun exploration into the fluidity of sexuality in a pre-Stonewall era. This novel is allegedly based on the life of James Dean, who most likely fell somewhere on the homosexual spectrum.
- The Boys in the Band by Mart Crowley: Taking place in the duration of one night, Crowley’s play brings to life a cast of gay men the includes at least one, if not more, person to which any person can relate. This play was the first commercially successful piece to bring gay life to main stream audiences.
- Maurice by E. M. Forster: Written in 1914 but not published till 1971, this novel is ahead of its time in its positive depiction of gay men. Forster offers a tantalizing glimpse into what it was like to be a young gay man during the Edwardian period.
- Faggots by Larry Kramer: Received both with high praise and vitriolic criticism, Kramer’s satire is a fascinating glimpse into the gay culture of 1970’s New York. This novel is a valuable tool in understanding the context in which the AIDS epidemic was able to devastate a community.
- Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner: Kushner’s play is a moving account set during the height of the AIDS Epidemic. His story provides incredible insight the vulnerability and confusion experienced by those living during the time.
- Gods & Monsters by Christopher Bram: A fascinating glimpse into the intersections of homoeroticism and violence, Bram’s novel explores the fictionalized final days of director James Whale. His novel reveals how a fear of mortality can lead one to make some desperate choices.
- “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx: Proulx shatters the stereotype of the heterosexual cowboy in this stunning short story about the love between two men. In a matter of few pages, Proulx manages to enthrall the reader with the story of a love destined for a tragic end.
- At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill: Set in an Ireland on the verge of the 1916 Easter Rising, O’Neill’s story follows the budding romance between two young Irish boys. Written in the stream of consciousness style, the novel submerges the reader into a post-Wildean era of the early 20th century.
- Beijing Comrades by Bei Tong: Set on the brink of the Tian’anmen Square protests, Tong’s novel chronicles the relationship of businessman Handong and student Lan Yu. At a time when same-sex relationships are ill-defined in China, the two struggle to understand their feelings for one another, going against what they have been told is the proper way.
- Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman: The story of two young men who experience a sexual awakening during a summer in 1980s Italy. Aciman’s novel explores the emotions of love, lust, and obsession with unapologetic honesty, sparing no detail as the reader is immersed into a homoerotic world of desire.
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: A fascinating tale about coming to terms with one’s identity when navigating the intersections of sexuality, race, and gender, Sáenz’ novel tells a story to which all young and older readers can relate.
- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: This novel is a fresh breath of life into the story of Patroclus and Achilles, the famous gay lovers of The Illiad. Miller’s incredibly storytelling revives this ancient tale and bravely delivers a stunning addition to the gay literary canon.
- Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was by Sjón: In the Icelandic landscape of a Reykjavik seized by the Spanish flu, Máni Stein hovers between a culture which soundly rejects his homosexuality and his one connection to the world: the cinema. In this prolific novel, Sjón tells the story of a young gay man who never was.
- Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: Simon, the protagonist of this novel, is average in every way, which is perhaps why this gay coming-of-age story is all the more remarkable. Now a major motion picture titled Love, Simon, Albertalli’s story is the first to be adapted into a movie by a large studio.
- The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine: Through a series of vignettes and interviews conducted by Satan, the story of Yemeni-born Jacob is told in a series of fragments over the course of one night, providing extraordinary insight into the psyche of an individual who survived the AIDS Epidemic.
- At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson: As his world begins to collapse around him, a young boy learns about his place in the universe. Exploring the trials of first love, Hutchinson provides a moving contribution to an emerging queer cannon written for the adolescent gay man.
- Enigma Variations by André Aciman: Following the story of a bisexual man, this novel is a testimony to the confusing and unfixed nature of sexuality. With it, Aciman once again proves his mastery of the language of desire.
- Of Men and Angels by Michael Arditti: Set over several time periods, Arditti’s nove
- The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst: Spanning several generations, Hollinghurst’s novel is a refreshing look at the lives of multiple gay men. Each character offers a new point of view on the complexity that surrounds the lives of the gay men within this novel.