Books Hub

Michelangelo Signorile Talks About His New Book 'It's Not Over' with Andy Towle: VIDEO


On Friday night I sat down with author, activist, and radio host Michelangelo Signorile for a Periscope session to talk about his new book, It's Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality.

NotoverThe book is uncannily-timed given the recent proliferation of "religious liberty" bills around the country; it's a warning to those fighting for LGBT equality not to think the battle is over too early — not to succumb to "victory blindness" as Signorile aptly calls it.

The book is also a primer for activism in the next phase of the LGBT rights movement, in which advocates for equality, having secured a number of substantive wins, must face a wave of conservative backlash that is already beginning.

"You have to celebrate [these victories], there's no question about it, Signorile tells me in our interview. "But, understand that there isn't this magical moment when everything is finished and you go on with your life. When you're a minority, a marginalized group, you've been dealt a certain deck and there's always going to be people out to try and undermine you. You have to just keep paying attention..."

"I think [conservatives] will definitely retool, recalibrate," he adds, "They move on to other states, they look for other avenues, they look for other people they can pose as victims, right? Any new way that they can sort of strip something away from us — conscience clauses allowing people to opt out of performing gay marriages, all that stuff is still going on and still on the table in a lot of states."

Using "victory blindness" as a launch pad, Signorile's incisive argument lays out the framework for taking on this backlash through self-defense and empowerment, revolutionizing education, and objecting to media that continually gives discredited conservative viewpoints authority where there is no legitimate debate to be had. It also provides advice for people who are out of the closet on how to remain empowered by not hiding who we are and resisting demands that we downplay our identities.

I strongly recommend this book.

Check out my talk with Signorile (and I apologize for its informality and my rather green on-camera skills - it was originally recorded on iPhone as a live streaming discussion on Periscope and has been edited to better fit this format).

Watch and read the transcript, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Michelangelo Signorile Talks About His New Book 'It's Not Over' with Andy Towle: VIDEO" »

J.K. Rowling Responds Perfectly to Fan Who 'Couldn't See' Why Dumbledore is Gay


J.K. Rowling has proven again what an LGBT ally she is in a response this week to a fan questioning why she made the Harry Potter character of Albus Dumbledore gay.

Said Rowling: "Maybe because gay people just look like... people?"


Travel Diary: A Sri Lankan Talks About Gay Life in the Asian Republic


Travel correspondents Stefan and Sebastien traveled to Sri Lanka in December 2014. Sri Lanka is a tropical island nation shaped like a pearl in the Indian Ocean just off the Indian mainland. Stefan and Sebastien are originally from London and France, respectively and Nomadic Boys is their gay travel blog.

Funny Boy is a Sri Lankan book Stefan grew up with and loved (written by Shyam Selvadurai and highly recommended to any LGBT traveller visiting Sri Lanka).

It tells the story of a young Tamil gay boy called Arjy growing up in 1980s Sri Lanka during the civil war era, struggling to come to grips with his homosexuality in a very religious and traditional family and society.

But coming here some 30 years later in late 2014, we wondered if much has changed.

Gays in Sri Lanka are pretty much regarded as criminals, like gays in India or gays in the Maldives. The draconian laws from the British colonial era (sections 365 of the Sri Lankan Penal Code 1886) criminalizing gay sex (“carnal intercourse”) with up to 10 years in prison and a fine are still in place .

Unfortunately in 1995 the Sri Lankan judiciary threw gay Sri Lanka backwards by amending this law to criminalize acts of "gross indecency" with a fine and up to 2 years in prison (section 365A). There is no guidance as to what exactly “gross indecency” is or isn’t, which leaves it open to abuse by the police to victimize the LGBT community.

Despite attempts by the UN and various Sri Lankan LGBT protest groups to question and repeal these laws, the government has not historically been the most obliging:

The recent former President Rajapaksa, stated gay marriage would ruin the Buddhist heritage of the nation. He also opposed Norway's ambassador to Sri Lanka (Grete Lochen) bringing her wife into Sri Lanka, arguing that lesbian marriages are not legal in Sri Lanka, so allowing *them* in would encourage Sri Lankan women to want to behave in this manner!

Grete Lochen, Norway's ambassador to Sri Lanka with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa - is that a fake smile....??!!

The recent surprise result in the Sri Lankan elections removed Rajapaksa from power and saw Maithripala Sirisena elected. Whilst this brings an end to the homophobic government of Rajapaksa, it remains to be seen if Sirisena’s will be any more welcoming to the hidden gay Sri Lanka community than his predecessor was.

As foreigners in Sri Lanka, we had a lovely time, completely trouble free and found the locals to be very friendly, kind-hearted people. But as we found in the Maldives, as foreigners, we will always enjoy a different level of treatment, whether straight or gay.

Princess Seby camping it up in Nuwara Eliya, hill country of Sri Lanka

So, what's it actually like living there?

We met a Sinhalese author in Colombo, Kaluu, who has published various books and poetry, some with a LGBT theme. He has asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from family and his work, so we will refer to him just as - "Kaluu" (it means black in Sinhalese, his nickname because he has darker skin than your average Sri Lankan).

Ayubowan Kaluu, welcome to our blog! Please introduce yourself:

Good afternoon Nomadic Boys. I am Sri Lankan born, 34 years old, living in Colombo. I’m also a son, a friend, a gay, a Buddhist, a writer, and a poet. Above all, a human.

Two Tamil boys being very docile with each other on the bus in Nuwara Eliya

You’ve asked us to keep your name anonymous on our blog, why is this?

Sri Lankans do not possess positive attitudes towards homosexuality. Exposing my sexual identity could affect my job, embarrass my family and could even be life threatening. My friends have faced such bitter experience for being “out”, particularly in rural areas.

For example, one friend was beaten by his older brother when he came out to him until he bled. He ran away and now lives alone.

Another friend came out to his family and his father had a heart attack when he found out. He decided to marry and live a “good” heterosexual life to please his parents and cut off all contact with his gay friends, including me.


Continue reading "Travel Diary: A Sri Lankan Talks About Gay Life in the Asian Republic" »

Upcoming 'Star Wars' Novel Will Introduce Series' First Queer Character



Long ago in a galaxy far, far away a young Imperial woman by the name of Moff Mors became the first canonical lesbian to be introduced into the Star Wars universe. Mors will be a central character featured in Star Wars: Lords of the Sith, an upcoming novel set within the broader Star Wars universe penned by Paul S. Kemp.

As Big Shiny Robot points out, Mors’s introduction into Star Wars lore, while momentous, might seem a bit underwhelming to hardcore fans familiar with the expanded universe.

Ziro the Hutt, a character introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and C3PO are commonly thought to have been implied to be gay based on their mannerisms. It should be pointed out that Hutts are hermaphroditic and reproduce sexually and C3PO, as best as anyone can tell, wasn’t designed with those protocols in mind. Mors, explained Del Rey publishing’s Star Wars editor Shelly Shapiro, will openly identify as a lesbian.

"This is certainly the first character in canon," Shapiro said. "But there was a gay Mandalorian couple, so it's not brand new.” She added:

“There's a lot of diversity--there should be diversity in "Star Wars." You have all these different species and it would be silly to not also recognize that there's a lot of diversity in humans. If there's any message at all, it's simply that "Star Wars" is as diverse (or more so because they have alien species) as humanity is in real life and we don't want to pretend it's not. It just felt perfectly natural."

Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced for Best LGBTQ Books: Read the FULL LIST + Our Reviews


The 27th Annual Lambda Literary Award finalists were announced yesterday in 24 categories. The organization received a record-breaking 818 submissions from 407 publishers.

Read the full list, AFTER THE JUMP...

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on June 1.

Said Lambda Literary Board President, S. Chris Shirley in a press release: "Each year, the Lammys bring national attention to the best LGBTQ books, which are often overlooked by the mainstream media and might otherwise be forgotten. This critical program of Lambda Literary not only recognizes the outstanding work of these talented authors, but also underscores the importance of LGBTQ stories, which are fundamental to the preservation of our culture."

We also like to bring attention to LGBT books here at Towleroad and our book reviewer Garth Greenwell turned in reviews last year for 8 of the books that are among the nominees. We would like to highlight some of those reviews here.


For Today I Am a Boy, Kim Fu (nominated in Best Transgender Fiction). Fu

From Garth's review:

"Structured in short, intense fragments and poetic scenes, Kim Fu’s novel follows Peter’s life over three decades, and one of its strengths is that Peter’s coming of age doesn’t fit into any easy narrative of liberation. Even when he does fall in with a group of young people who seem entirely comfortable with their queer identities, with rich lives and loving relationships, Peter’s response, at least at first, is to feel less relieved than enraged...For Today I Am a Boy is an extraordinarily accomplished first novel, and Fu is a thrilling new voice. She’s at once compassionate toward her characters and uncompromising in her refusal of the usual novelistic resolutions of questions that remain intractable in lived experience. Lyrical, sometimes brutal, always beautiful, this is a brilliant book."


2_brabnerSecond Avenue Caper, Joyce Brabner (nominated in Best LGBT Graphic Novels)

From Garth's review:

"Joyce Brabner’s nonfiction graphic novel recounts the early years of the AIDS crisis as experienced by a tight-knit circle of “gay artists, writers, actors, musicians, dyke activists, drag queens,” who respond to the devastation of the disease with acts of remarkable daring and generosity...These early pages of the book are exuberantly joyful, as Ray’s apartment is packed with friends eating and drinking and smoking together, playing games and singing songs, throwing out ideas for plays and musicals, and above all gossiping, cattily and lovingly. Mark Zingarelli’s direct and emotive illustrations capture beautifully the intimacy and trust between these queer outsiders, who create a rich and sustaining family for themselves."

New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, Shelly Oria (Nominated in Best Lesbian Fiction) Ny1

From Garth's review:

"Disorientation afflicts nearly all of the characters in Shelly Oria’s nimble and disarmingly moving debut collection of stories. Many of them are (like Oria herself) Israeli immigrants in New York City, navigating multiple cultures and languages; others find themselves in worlds where the usual rules (of weather, say, or time) break down; all of them are bewildered by desire...Oria’s characters are often stripped of the usual, prefabricated categories of identity: “I think, Who is this person?” the narrator of the title story wonders, “That me who isn’t Israeli and isn’t American, isn’t gay and isn’t straight--who is she?” This disorientation makes them profoundly vulnerable, able to ask with a sometimes devastating bluntness the most dangerous questions: “I think: This is what there is, this is my life. I think: Do I want it or not?” In Oria's excellent collection, these questions result in stories that are heartbreaking, inventive, and almost miraculously alive to the subtleties of feeling."


Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones (Nominated in Best Gay Poetry) Jones

From Garth's review:

Saeed Jones begins this electrifying book—one of the most exciting debut collections I’ve read in years—with a quotation from Kafka’s notebooks: 'The man in ecstasy and the man drowning—both throw up their arms.'... These poems bear witness to the fact that to be black and gay in America—and especially in the American South—is to be confronted with violence from every side: on the street and in the home; from strangers and friends alike; most painfully, from within the self...Like the great poets his lines recall—Whitman, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, James Baldwin, to name just a few of the voices that inform this book—Jones makes a music that feels adequate to rage and grief on both a personal and a national scale. Prelude to Bruise is more than a promising debut; it’s the rare book of poetry that urgently speaks—and will continue to speak, I suspect, for a long time—to the intractable griefs of our present moment."


CarrollLittle Reef and Other Stories, Michael Carroll (Nominated in Best Gay General Fiction)

From Garth's review:

"The unpredictable drift of southern conversation may lie behind the unconventional shape of many of these stories. In an interview with the writer Andrew Holleran, Carroll speaks about his desire to break free of the traditional structure of the short story, in which rising action leads to climax, resolution, and epiphany or realization. Instead, he allows his stories to find their way in a looser, less predetermined way, allowing for sudden juxtapositions and unexpected turns and constant, vivifying surprise...It also allows for the emergence of what may be Carroll’s greatest strength, his ability to inhabit the deep consciousness of his characters. “What was writing except a direct line into someone’s head,” the wife in “Referred Pain” muses, and what makes Carroll’s characters so vivid is the access we’re given to their experience of their own lives."


ProseLovers At The Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, Francine Prose (Nominated in Best Lesbian General Fiction)

From Garth's review:

"Francine Prose’s engrossing, virtuosic new novel uses a fictional version of Brassaï’s photograph to create a moving narrative of a group of friends and associates over two decades, as Paris devolves from the 1920s bohemian paradise of expatriate artists to the nightmare of rising fascism and Nazi occupation. In Prose’s version, the suited woman of the photograph is Lou Villars, a desperately unhappy former athlete who will become, thanks to the people she meets over the course of the novel, a nightclub performer, a racecar driver, a Nazi spy, a torturer. More than anything, she will be a tool, forever shaping herself to what she thinks are others’ wishes, manipulated in ways she never fully sees....This ambitious novel paints a wide canvas, and doesn’t shy away from the familiar figures and events of the Second World War—there’s even a wonderful scene, at once chilling and ridiculous, with Hitler himself, who infects Lou with his crazed messianic fervor. But the real achievement of the book is that the intimate dramas of its characters’ lives remain our chief concern, the medium through which we understand the horrors of war."


BitterBitter Eden, Tatamkhulu Afrika (Nominated in Best Gay General Fiction)

From Garth's review:

"On the first page of Tatamkhulu Afrika’s intense and passionate novel, the narrator, Tom Smith, receives a package from a man he hasn’t seen in half a century. What it contains will send him back to the years he spent in Italian and German POW camps during the Second World War, camps that, for all their horror, Tom remembers as a “Bitter Eden.” Bitter EdenThe book’s depiction of the day-to-day life in those camps is extraordinary. Captured in Northern Africa, Tom finds himself in a desperate world of starvation and ingenuity, of lice and cigarette economies and amateur entertainments. It’s “a place where anything unclaimed is everyone’s prey,” and where in their hunger men become nothing more than “meat wanting more meat so that it can go on being meat.” It is a brutal place, and yet it allows for intimacies and affections the broader world prohibits."


WhiteInside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, Edmund White (Nominated in Best Gay Memoir/Biography)

From Garth's review:

"Reading Edmund White’s fascinating, vital new memoir, which covers the fifteen years he spent in France in the 1980s and 90s, feels a little like attending the world’s most fabulous cocktail party. The pages are filled with impossibly glamorous people doing impossibly glamorous things, from literary lights like Susan Sontag and Julian Barnes and Alan Hollinghurst, to celebrities of a different stratosphere, like Lauren Bacall and Tina Turner and Yves Saint Laurent. At the center of it all is White, who for four decades has been, in both fiction and nonfiction, our preeminent chronicler of gay life. When the period covered by Inside a Pearl begins, in 1983, White has just published his classic novel A Boy’s Own Story, and he arrives in Paris armed with that success, as well as high school French and sixteen thousand dollars from a Guggenheim Fellowship...Inside a Pearl is a beautiful, hugely endearing, often brilliant book, a worthy record of White’s attempt to be true to what he sees as the several purposes of his life: 'to teach, to trick, to write, to memorialize, to be a faithful scribe, to record the loss of my dead.'"



Continue reading "Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced for Best LGBTQ Books: Read the FULL LIST + Our Reviews" »

Closeted College Lacrosse Player Publishes Book Of 420 Love Poems Written To His Boyfriend


College lacrosse player Christ Chrysler - a pseudonym as he's still in the closet - engaged in a private project with his long-distance boyfriend when the two went off to college in neighboring states: each day for 420 days in a row, Chrysler would write a poem for him.

As Chrysler writes over at OutSports, he confided his project in his faculty mentor Dr. Jason Paulien, who convinced Chrysler to take the finished product and publish it. Paulien felt that it "could serve as a fascinating object of study, not just for the many issues of sexuality, sex, gender roles, and romance that are raised, but also for people to see the evolution of his writing over a year and a half of practice every day."

Chrysler agreed, and after reading an online article by a gay college student bemoaning the impossibility of traditional romance and fidelity in gay romances he felt that he needed to provide a counterpoint. He was living the very thing the unnamed author said didn't exist.

As for the author's decision to remain anonymous and closeted, he says:

The reason I have used a pseudonym for this book is to keep from being a distraction on my team, again, not because I’m gay, but because of the relationship in general, and to protect the privacy of my relationship. Also, I don’t want a personal, private aspect of my relationship to impact my future writing career. This is a side-project that I am sharing for reasons other than literary career advancement. The goal is more about exploring issues of romance in a modern gay relationship.

So, for your reading enjoyment, you can pick up a copy of LOVE 420: High on Romance from your favorite online bookstore.


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