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#queer literature
lennythepope · 3 months ago
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queer book recs
by genre: part 2
WITH SUMMARIES
SCIENCE FICTION
the vanished birds - simon jimenez. a mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman who runs a ship that travels through space and time--meaning while she runs through the stars, the people she knows age and move past her. this child, placed in her care, has the potential to change the world, and she finds herself desperate to protect him from those who would do him harm. the author is filipino, and the story features gay, lesbian and ace main characters of color. this one made me cry so much--one of my favorite books i’ve ever read
this is how you lose the time war - amal el-mohtar & max gladstone. a novella about two rival agents in an undefined scifi world who begin to exchange letters, eventually falling in love through writing. if you are looking for fleshed-out science fiction worldbuilding, you won’t find it here--this is very much a character-focused story about two people who happen to be in a world so unlike our own. the main characters are genderfluid, but they use she/her pronouns mostly.
the luminous dead - caitlin starling - this one is on the science fiction/horror cusp. it centers a gyre, caver on a foreign planet who signs up for an expedition to map mineral deposits in order to make enough money to travel off world. what she finds instead is something in the caves and it may or may not be hunting her. her only company is em, the voice in her ear, the girl above world running the expedition with a few dangerous secrets of her own. featuring: lesbians!
bonds of brass - emily skrutskie. this is that gays in space book that you all seem to want. it’s definitely based on finn/poe from star wars as well. but it follows a young pilot who goes on the run with his best friend and roommate, a young prince who has just survived an assassination attempt. caveat on this one is that the politics are...a mess. just. they aren’t great. i don’t think the author MEANT to imply that imperialism isn’t that bad but she sure did. but it’s a quick fun read if you don’t think about it too much.
once & future - amy rose capetta, cory mcarthy. this is YOUNG ADULT. an arthurian retelling where throughout the years arthur is reincarnated into different people, and this time it’s ari, who crash lands onto old earth and pulls out excalibur, gaining a legend she didn’t want, and a new best friend in the form of the wizard merlin, who is suffering from the affliction of aging backwards. this is set in space mostly, and features most of the cast of arthurian lore in different forms. it is...very tumblr in its language sometimes, but it’s charming and cute. features a host of queer characters of all types, and written by a married queer couple.
FANTASY
the deep - rivers solomon. a short novella about mermaids who descended from the african slave women tossed overboard in slave ships and must reconcile with the memories they are trying to forget. based on “the deep” by the concept rap group, clipping. and written by an incredible nonbinary author.
silver in the wood / drowned country - emily tesh. the two books in the greenhollow duology! silver in the wood follows tobias, the Wild Man in the Greenhollow woods, and silver, the handsome, intensely curious new owner of greenhollow hall, and an amateur folklorist to boot. as tobias tries to resist silver, he has to come to terms with secrets he thought he’d buried. drowned country follows tobias and silver a few months after the events of silver in the wood, when they must travel to a seaside town to rescue a girl from a monster and reckon with their relationship.
the house in the cerulean sea - t.j. klune. this is sort of modern fantasy and it follows linus, a case worker for the department in charge of magical youth, when he’s assigned to an island with an orphanage full of magical children and a handsome, kind-eyed caretaker. very found family and fluffy.
the starless sea - erin morgenstern. a beautiful ode to the written word and to libraries and storytelling, this book follows zachary ezra, who found a door as a child and chose not to go through it, only to discover later that it was gone. in college now, he’s spent his whole life wondering about that door, and regretting not going through, when he finds an unmarked mysterious book in the campus library, that seems to be telling his own story. this book is just SO beautiful, and i recommend just letting the words run over you rather than trying to “figure it out.”
robbergirl - s.t. gibson. a beautiful little f/f story based on the fairytale “the snow queen.” helvig, raised by her father to be a very good thief, encounters a pale girl with pale eyes and can’t resist bringing a qenuine witch like her home. but the girl has a desperate journey of her own, and helvig finds herself swept up in more ways than one.
pet - akwaeke emezi. this is YOUNG ADULT (and on the younger side of young adult even more specifically). this is set in a what-seems-to-be utopia, so why has a strange creature come out of jam’s mother’s painting? he says he is here to hunt a monster, but there are no monsters left...are there? super short but really lovely, features a trans girl protagonist and written by a trans nonbinary author.
ash - malinda lo. a cinderella retelling where ash dreams of being rescued by the fairies from her father’s fairytales. when she meets one, she thinks her wishes might come true. but then she meets kaisa, the king’s huntress, and she starts to wonder if her desires have changed. 
the devourers - indra das. on a cool night in kolkata, india, beneath a full moon, a man who claims to be a werewolf comes to college professor Alok, asking if he will tell his story. as the man does, alok finds himself drawn not just by the handsome stranger, but also into a tale of a woman who partners with a wolf-man to hunt down the one who raped her. trigger warning for sexual assult, obviously. written by a nonbinary desi author who finally earned out their advance! consider buying the book so they can get royalties too :)
HORROR
plain bad heroines - emily m. danforth. this is a horror comedy that follows three sets of three girls and women from 1902 to the present. in 1902, three girls at a new england boarding school become obsessed with writer mary maclane and form a fan club. later, all three mysteriously day with her memoir in their hands, and yellow jackets around them. on the same property, not long after, three more women die. and now, in the present, three more girls are back at the school in order to shoot the movie based on the original three girls’ last moments. very fun, very gay, and if you like footnotes, you’re in luck!
catherine house - elisabeth thomas. ines is a grumpy bisexual slacker who is accepted at the catherine house, a prestigious secretive liberal arts college where your tuition is free with just one catch: for the entire three years there, you are not allowed to have any contact with the outside world. written by a black woman author. 
wilder girls - rory power. this one is YOUNG ADULT. for fans of the southern reach trilogy. this follows a group of girls (hetty, byatt, reese) who have been living at a quarantined boarding school ever since the Tox began, a strange disease that causes nature to turn violent, and the girls to develop mutations, to turn them wrong. when hetty’s friend byatt goes missing, she and reese are determined to find her. this one is SO fun, though i will warn that the ending is pretty abrupt
the route of ice and salt - jose luis zarate. for fans of dracula. this is a gothic horror that delves into dracula’s voyage to england. this takes a closer look at the ship captain on that trip, imagined as an incredibly repressed gay man who lost his lover violently, and is plagued by intense self-hatred. when he picks up cargo of boxes filled with transylvania soil to transport from varna to whitby, he thinks it’s a shipping order like any other. but then strange things begin to happen, and he even stranger dreams, and the ship crew begins to slowly unravel...lots of sexual content in this one, and homophobic violence.
(next up: romance/memoir)
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torbooks · 19 days ago
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Steal greatness.
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Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor Books, July 2021).
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the-modern-typewriter · 13 hours ago
I love like when I’m in the shower and have nothing better to do than to think of scenes or concepts that I believe would make for a really great movie or TV show. But is it weird that I often now think of in what ways I could portray an LGBTQ love story and do it justice? Like I imagine LGBTQ scenes in my mind that I think would make for a better movie than what’s out there. I’m straight and I personally also feel that LGBTQ stories should be left for LGBTQ people to tell and I don’t wanna talk over those who’ve actually experienced it cause I feel like it’s not my place. Idk hopefully I made some sense. I do the same thing with like straight couples too, tbh I just like seeing the different ways in which love can be portrayed.
1 - I think telling stories of any sort in your head is normal. It’s like the exact opposite of weird. I do it in the shower, or lying in bed, or walking or basically as a default if my brain is not actively doing something else. Stories are how we make sense of the world, entertain ourselves, escape, figure out what we want.
2 - You didn’t ask for me to go into ‘and in this essay I will’ mode, but...
I strongly don’t believe that only LGBTQ people can or should tell LGBTQ stories.
I think own voice stories are incredibly important, and LGBTQ people can talk about their specific experiences and struggles with more nuance and lived experience than someone heterosexual can. But also...like, imagine if we told LGBTQ people that they’re only allowed to write LGBTQ stories. There’s something squicky and very censorship-y about it that I don’t like. 
As a very basic example, which I hope highlights the absurdity of the premise, does that mean because I’m a biromantic asexual that I should just stay in my lane and never write any stories which involve sexual attraction, sexual activities, or that I should only write a story in which a character is asexual? 
There are differences in how LGBTQ people experience our contemporary or historical world, but to suggest that only LGBTQ people can write LGBTQ stories perpetuates the myth of LGBTQ people as somehow inherently other, as if there is no cross-over or universal feelings between straight people and LGBTQ people and that is both a) not true and b) a potentially harmful an idea to perpetuate. It is harmful because to portray LGBTQ people as other, as people straight people cannot possibly understand, helps foster an ‘us versus them’ mentality. I.e., it once again centres the straight narrative as the default that everyone can understand, versus the LGBTQ narrative that is therefore not for everyone. It discourages empathy and upholds heteronormativity.
Writing a story with LGBTQ characters when you are not LGBTQ is not inherently talking over LGBTQ people, or inherently taking away story-telling opportunities away from LGBTQ authors. I know we love to check the diversity credentials of authors at this moment in time, but whether you are an own voices author or not doesn’t magically decide if your story is good or not, or whether it fits a nebulous gold standard of ‘good representation’, as if its a one size fits all when it’s just doesn’t.
The larger issue, to my mind, is a structural one. It’s to do with things like:
Well, are we only telling LGBTQ stories that primarily cater to straight audiences?
Are we only showing one specific kind of queer identity or presenting one specific way of living as the authentic queer experience?
Who are we giving authority to when we tell LGBTQ stories? Who gets listened to? Who knows queer history in the story? What is this saying?  
How are we portraying the LGBTQ characters we do use compared to how we are portraying straight characters?
Own voices are important, and should be boosted, but at least some of the context behind own voices currently being prioritised is that historically they haven’t been, because historically if you were openly LGBTQ you were censored and own voices is trying to fill in the huge representation gap. 
In the long term, what we need is more LGBTQ stories, period, because then there is not as much of an issue with ‘oh but this one story doesn’t reflect me’ or ‘this one character has to represent everything’. An LGBTQ villain on their own, for example, might contribute to a history of queercoded villainy which can be argued to contribute to the demonising of LGBTQ characters/attributes/culture by associating them with the evil characters...but similarly, to only be allowed to write LGBTQ characters as perfect little angels limits the humanity and variety of LGBTQ characters, and by extension our understanding of LGBTQ people. 
So to sum up: go forth, do your best, and write LGBTQ stories. Not every story about straight white people is a literary, nuanced masterpiece, and that’s okay. LGBTQ stories shouldn’t have to be that either to be worth writing or reading.
Wanting to explore different ways that love can be portrayed is one of the many reasons to write about love.
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torteen · a month ago
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Sometimes life’s a slowburn, sometimes it’s a dumpster fire. 
And sometimes, it’s just perfect. 😍 
Order your copy of Flash Fire by TJ Klune today!
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lennythepope · 4 months ago
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queer book recs
(by genre: part 1) 
WITH SUMMARIES :D
CONTEMPORARY LITERARY FICTION
you exist too much - zaina arafat. our narrator is a palestinian american girl who learns shame early on, especially from her mother. after a series of failed relationships with men and women, where she can’t help but cheat, emotionally and otherwise, she checks herself into rehab for a love addiction. through her treatment, we learn about her past relationships—with men, women, her mother, and palestine. written by a palestinian american, featuring a bi protagonist.
girl, woman, other - bernardine evaristo. a somewhat multigenerational story that centers black british womanhood, queerness, and gender nonconformity, with each chapter being about a different black woman (and one genderfluid person) who are all interconnected in certain ways. beautifully written by a black author, features queer black women and genderfluid characters. there are occasional themes about sexual assault, so be careful if that is a trigger for you.
fiebre tropical - juliana delgado lopera. a vibrant, feverish coming of age story about a colombian teenager who moves to miami and dives headfirst into evangelicalism, teenage lust, and exploring her sexuality. written in spanglish! though the main character is a teenager, this is not a young adult book.
freshwater - akwaeke emezi. a story about a nigerian woman who develops separate selves, all precious to her and as much a part of her as her “first self.” it follows her journey into becoming one with her spirit selves. huge, huge trigger warning for violent sexual assault, but it’s a beautifully written, lyrical novel. 
mysterious skin - scott heim. when brian lackey is 8, something so traumatic happens to him that he has no memory for a 5 hour window. he thinks he may have been abducted by aliens. neil mccormick, on the other hand, is fully aware of what happened on that day all those years ago, when he was also a child. as brian gets older, he seeks neil’s advice, and neil, in parallel, begins to unravel as he begins to realize the truth of what happened to them both.
on earth we’re briefly gorgeous - ocean vuong. with the kind of prose that shows his poetry background, vuong crafts a story of family, first love, and the power of storytelling. little dog, in his late twenties, writes a meditative letter to his illiterate mother about their lives and their relationship. vuong is a vietnamese immigrant and explores the history of vietnam and america’s relationship through little dog and his relationship with his mother. 
saints for all occasions - j. courtney sullivan. irish immigrant sisters nora and theresa are 17 and 21 when they leave ireland and go to america. fifty one years later, the sisters (and their respective children) meet up at the funeral of one of their own. one of nora’s children is a lesbian and features heavily with her own pov. i know that’s why y’all are here. 
less - andrew sean greer. when failed author arthur less receives an invitation to his ex boyfriend’s wedding, he decides to cash in on all the literary invites he’s been ignoring in order to avoid it. this takes him around the world, on a deeply meditative book about what it means to grow old as a gay man right after the AIDS crisis, what it means to be a writer, and the way joy and grief can be one and the same. 
HISTORICAL FICTION
cantoras - carolina de robertis. this book follows five “cantoras” (uruguayan slang for queer women) throughout each of their lives during the uruguayan dictatorship, their personal journeys into what it means to love other women, and what it means to find haven in friendship with other women like you. trigger warning for sexual assault and suicidal themes. the author is uruguayan herself. if you don’t like jokes about sex toys and strap ons, maybe don’t read this book.
the mercies - kiran millwood hargrave. this follows maren, who witnesses the day that every able-bodied man on her small nordic island dies in a freak storm while out fishing. the women begin to make a life for themselves without men. when word of that reaches the mainland, a man comes from scotland, where he has burnt witches, to save their souls, bringing his young norwegian wife Ursa, who immediately has a deep connection with maren. 
naamah - sarah blake. idk if historical fiction is the technically right term for this book...but i am putting it here bc idk where else to put it. this follows naamah, noah’s vibrant, bisexual wife, as she must leave her lover in the great flood. this is a story about naamah’s relationship with her family, god, and an angel that she may or may not have dreamt up, as she spends 40 days and 40 nights cooped up inside the ark. 
the seven husbands of evelyn hugo - taylor jenkins reid. evelyn hugo, hollywood movie icon, decides she’s finally ready to tell the truth about her own life. when she chooses unknown magazine reporter monique grant for the job, no one, least of all herself, knows why. the story that follows will reveal why evelyn picked her, and the reason she has been reclusive her entire life. note for this one: this is a white author and it shows when it comes to certain issues, particularly race and ethnicity (evelyn is a white cuban, monique is black), but i included it because, while not perfect, it is fun. 
this got long so i think i’m gonna stop it here and make this a series!
(next up: scifi/fantasy/horror!)
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the-modern-typewriter · 11 days ago
hi can u recommend any old/non modern queer books. i need to find something to read haha :) no specific time period or mood btw..
hope ur doin well and ur writing is cool asl
What counts as 'non-modern'? Anyway. Here is some queer lit that's more classic, that I liked. I have put * next to my absolute faves.
Tipping the Velvet (1998)*, Fingersmith (2002) and The Night Watch (2006) by Sarah Waters - all f/f historical. She has other works, but these three are my favourites of hers.
Nightwood (1936) by Djuna Barnes* (bizarre, but it's stayed with me, I can't describe some of the lines)
The Well of Loneliness (1928) by Radclyffe Hall
The Colour Purple (1982) by Alice Walker
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (1987) by Fannie Flag
Carmilla (1872) by Sheridan le Fanu (there's also a great Youtube mini series fyi)
Annie On My Mind (1982) by Nancy Garden
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006) by Alison Bechdel
Giovanni's Room (1956) by James Baldwin*
The Picture of Dorian Grey (1890) by Oscar Wilde*
Maurice (1971) by E.M Forster
The Charioteer (1953) by Mary Renault
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gatheringbones · 2 months ago
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“Part of the dream of queer is that it potentially has no opposite. Straight is the opposite of gay. Queer is a rejection of both. Queer was one of the first words that spoke to me as the dream I needed in order to survive. I don’t know if trans is the same as queer, I mean I know it is and I know it isn’t—I know there can be a gloriousness to the potential of trans as a reimagining beyond conventional gender expectations. If queer laid my foundations, a trans analysis rearranged the structures and gave me the space to breathe again. Transgender: to bend, mend, extend, and transcend.
The explosion of trans identities in the early-2000s challenged my own assumptions, including the assumptions that once felt like challenges, and it wasn’t just the transfeminine spectrum that gave me hope in fluidity. I’d always believed that masculinity could only be the enemy, but then there were the trans fags who showed me something beyond the predetermined, a masculinity negotiated and transformed, a flamboyance through choosing a bodily language of one’s own making. A freedom, but not a freedom from accountability. The meanings of queer and trans are constantly shifting—this is part of the allure. At once identities that declare an end to borders, and identities that constantly build walls, challenging enough to derail conversations and at the same time empty enough to use in the name of a TV show or nonprofit.
One problem with the politics of representation is that often it’s about who is represented, but not what. I’m not saying we don’t ever need an us and them. I know this is how many of us find one another, dance with the scars into arms that might hold not only to harm. I don’t think there always needs to be an invitation to join us, I don’t think this has to be the case, but I do think this should always be an option. I do think a world without borders is a dream we must hold onto—personally, politically, intimately, explosively, expressively.”
There is incredible beauty to the naming and claiming so often found in these worlds, but also there’s a frightening territorialism. I don’t want to become the cops, I want to end policing in all its forms. This is the dream that queer and trans worlds have helped me to imagine.”
mattilda bernstein sycamore, the freezer door
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torbooks · 13 days ago
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“I refuse to be nothing…”
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, is out now from Tor Books.
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diary-of-a-transman · 9 days ago
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I also had a recent experience which I would like to talk about here.
For those who do not know, I grew up in quite a rural area. I am used to tiny bookstores and perhaps a handful of queer people in my area, with one or two of those people being trans (like myself)
A lot of what I have learned about myself and my identity comes from my access to the internet, the gender dysphoria bible really opened my eyes and validated my experience of transness. But there still is that small sting of loneliness. I know one or two trans people, only one of whom I am close to. I talk to my cis friends about this, and they are so wonderful about supporting me and validating my identity (one of my friends gave me a nickname, another gave me some gender affirming clothing. Both greatly affirmed me) but i still feel somewhat isolated. I really do dream of going to pride and finding others like me, being able to sit down with another trans person and just talk.
I recently went to a city, which was a wonderful day out on its own, when my feet guided me to a wonderful little bookshop. Of course because it was pride month, I expected to see pride flags, but not this many. I went inside to see two people joking about making the space “even gayer” and I saw two teens conversing near one of the books. The shelves were divided accordingly, a wall of mlm fiction, wlw fiction, with romance, science fiction, horror, dystopia... every sort of genre imaginable. And the nonfiction also struck me. Here I found shelves of queer stories, experiences and art, shining through and there, physically there for me to hold and purchase.
The transgender section was next to the stairs, the whole section encompassed fiction and nonfiction and was as big as the MLM and WLW sections. I was awestruck. By chance I had discovered books about people like myself, the biggest collection I had ever seen. There was practical advice, slice-of-life anecdotes, poetry, prose, all published and printed neatly on the shelves for me to pick up and read. All here, all taking up space in the world.
I bought two books. One of which a practical guide on understanding gender identity, the other an anthology on trans love. I don’t have words for how special this experience was to me, I have never been to pride, nor a gay bar. Come to think of it, this was my first experience in an explicitly queer space, my first time talking to queer strangers. It seems small, but this experienced chipped away at my feeling of loneliness, my feeling of otherness.
It gave me hope.
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torbooks · 18 days ago
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Destiny comes to those who dare...
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor Books 2021) is a “gorgeous and sprawling masterpiece of historical fantasy.”—Buzzfeed
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r0ckin-robin · 3 months ago
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"I think you’re beautiful, the only beautiful person I’ve ever seen. I love your voice and everything to do with you, down to your clothes or the room you are sitting in. I adore you."
E.M Forster, Maurice
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heroic-wanderer · a month ago
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"When a book is presented as a primary source rather than a work of fiction, it’s an authorial invitation to look between the lines and search for hidden truths. The narrator becomes part of the fiction — history, after all, is recorded by specific people with their own motives — something that Tolkien, as one of the world’s foremost Beowulf scholars, would have intimately understood. It was a conscious choice on the part of “Frodo” and “Sam” to include the many moments when they express love for each other, and it reads much in the same way people from the past delicately referred to their same-sex relationships: wanting to acknowledge their truth while obeying the conventions of the time."
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torteen · 25 days ago
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Return to Nova City as new superheroes arrive in town! 
Can Nick separate himself from the lips of his superhero boyfriend in order to figure out who is virtuous and who is villainous?
Order your copy of Flash Fire by TJ Klune today!
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pillage-and-lute · a month ago
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This pride month I thought I’d make a list of  books with queer characters and themes. Some of these are fiction, some nonfiction, and I haven’t read them all, but they’ve been recommended to me. Please feel free to add on.
Indigenous Queer Literature
Sovereign Erotics 
Two Spirit Acts: Queer Indigenous Performances
In Her Am I
AAPI Queer Literature
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
Last Night at the Telegraph Club
Mooncakes
Tahuri
Black Queer Literature (African American)
Black. Queer. Southern. Women,: An Oral History
Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity
The Color Purple
Parable of the Sower
Zami: A New Spelling of my Name
Black Queer Literature (Africa)
The Hairdresser of Harare
Go Tell the Sun
Bitter Eden
Middle Eastern Queer Literature
If You Could Be Mine
The Hakawati
Israel/Palestine and the Queer International
Guapa
East Asian Queer Literature
Gay Tales of the Samurai
Confessions of a Mask
Erasing Shame
South Asian and Desi Queer Literature
The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story
The Devourers
Funny Boy
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emeraldxruby · 28 days ago
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The love affair between Evelyn Hugo and Celia St. James spanned for 41 years.
They first met on the set of Little Women in 1959 when Evelyn was 21 and Celia was 19/20.
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They were together for about 3 years until they had their 1st breakup in 1962. Evelyn was 24 and Celia was 23.
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They spent 5 years apart until in 1967, they reunited inside a bathroom at the Academy Awards. Evelyn was 29 and Celia was 28.
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They were together for 9 years until they had their 2nd breakup in 1976. Evelyn was 38 and Celia was 37.
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This time, they spend 12 years apart until in 1988, they reconnect through letters before once again reuniting and rekindling their love. Evelyn was 50 and Celia was 49.
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They manage to get back the decade and 2 years they lost as they spend 12 years together until Celia’s death in 2000. Evelyn was 62 and Celia was 61.
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Evelyn and Celia spent a total of 24 years together and 17 years apart, nonconsecutive.
But the two loved each other all throughout the 41 years. Not once did they stop loving the other. Although in the end they express their regret of losing all that time, what’s important is that their hearts always remained with one another.
They always managed to find their way back to each other.
And in the end, they were able to spend their last years together as wives.
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