Five Books Every Twink Needs To Read

During the summer of 2007, I spent every day at Barnes & Noble searching for books about gay men. After years of relating to Britney Spears, Courtney Love, and Judy Garland, I needed boys like me, boys I couldn’t find at the locker room. Unfortunately, Barnes & Noble’s idea of “LGBT literature” is erotica anthologies and STD guides. (You know, because gay men have no feelings and just fuck and contract syphilis all day, everyday.) (Okay, we sort of do just fuck.) But I already knew about the clap. I wanted to read about my history and feelings.

When I moved to New York for college, I finally discovered the books I had looked for. My brilliant queer theory professor introduced me to gay novels, histories, and academia—the books that could have comforted me after my first kiss announced I had “made him straight.” Parents might label these books inappropriate for teens. (There’s butt sex, poppers, and bathhouses galore!) But you watch porn, and unlike the producers at GayTube.com, these books’ authors based their work on real life, and this list is a zillion times more useful than an “It Get Better” video starring the Maverick Men.

Gay New York by George Chauncey
If you’re sixteen and gay, you probably plan to move to New York because you know it’s always been the Mecca of gay America. What you don’t know is how it became our gay capital. This book will fix that.

Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote
I don’t remember this book, but it’s about a seven-year-old fruit who has daddy problems, loves his transsexual uncle, and doesn’t really give a fuck about sounding like a queen. Also it’s the sister book to To Kill a Mockingbird. (Capote was Dill; Lee was his tomboy childhood best friend in Other Voices, Other Rooms.) So just read it.

The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
Nobody should read this book to discover how to love your gayness—Isherwood’s a bit of a closet case. He only hints at his gay relationships, albeit through one page descriptions of twinks in bikinis. However, he perfectly renders the dynamic between a fag and his delusional fag hag. Every boy has spent a night nursing a wounded soul dressed as a glamour queen. Every boy can relate to this book.

Out of the Closet by various contributors
Out of the Closet collects various essays from the start of the gay liberation movement that allows us to make out in public. The authors might seem crazy, but they grew up in a repressed world that despised them. They dealt with deaths and fag bashing so we could take boys to the proms. Their story is our story.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This book is about a straight boy whose aunt molested him, but Chbosky created the most realistic teenage queen I’ve ever seen. Until someone writes our Catcher in the Rye, this is our book, guys.

 

More from Mitchell Sunderland:

 Dear LiveJournal: Car Wrecks, A Camry, and My First Date

My Fag Hags Through The Years

You Don’t Know What It Feels Like To Be A Woman

About Mitchell Sunderland

Mitchell Sunderland is freelance writer and social media manager in New York. His work has appeared in VICE Magazine, Thought Catalog, The Billfold, Rookie Mag, the Huffington Post, and Emily Books Quarterly. He has ghost tweeted as and managed social media publicity campaigns for authors at Simon & Schuster, Crown/Random House, and Plume/Penguin and various tech companies. He tweets and tumblrs regularly. Email him about your life and his work at mitchell.p.sunderland@gmail.com.