2018 Nonfiction Titles

By George Martinez  

2018 Over the Rainbow Nonfiction Titles


Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE. Pat Patterson. ECW Press, 2016.
A no holds barred memoir about being gay in the world of professional wrestling, as told by veteran superstar wrestler Pat Patterson. He chronicles his humble beginnings working in the wrestling circuits of the 1960s all the way up to becoming a World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Famer, all while dealing with his sexuality, coming out, and finding love.


Balls: It Takes Some To Get Some. Chris Edwards. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2016.
A witty and refreshing memoir about transitioning, as told by Chris Edwards who corrects his gender from female to male. With a voice that is brave and bold, Edwards details his journey as a trans man living in a time before the term “transgender” even existed. He uses his marketing background to rebrand himself and in doing so, finds support from coworkers, friends, and family alike. This is an encouraging, entertaining, brazen, and moving memoir of someone who chooses to live as his true self.


Before Pictures. Douglas Crimp. Dancing Foxes and University of Chicago Press, 2016.
Art Historian and critic, Douglas Crimp has written more than a memoir. It is a chronology of the author’s life lived in a variety of New York addresses, a collection of art and anecdotes from his experiences on the burgeoning Gay Liberation years of New York gay scene, as well as a book of art criticism spanning 1967-1977. These 10 years are his life before Pictures, an influential exhibition he curated in 1977. Crimp seamlessly moves from memoir to criticism. The book is beautifully designed. It is a remarkable work.


The Black Penguin. Andrew Evans. University of Wisconsin Press, 2017.
Andrew Evans pitches an idea for an article for National Geographic to travel primarily by bus from Washington, D.C. to Antarctica and live tweet his experience along the way. He meets various characters and has a few nail-biting travel experiences. Evans alternates between telling us about his bus journey and the challenges of accepting himself despite his experiences growing up as a gay Mormon.


The Boys in the Band: Flashpoints of Cinema, History, and Queer Politics. Edited by Matt Bell. Wayne State University Press, 2016.
In this collection of academic essays, the groundbreaking 1970 film The Boys in The Band (based on Matt Crowley’s off-Broadway play) is thoroughly examined. Fans of the film and students of queer cinema will rejoice at the multitude of issues explored, including gender, race, film theory, queer theory, alcoholism, politics, New York City, and gay love. It’s a perfect companion piece to the film, initiating debate, inviting sociological perspectives, and providing intellectual discussion.


The Case of Alan Turing: The Extraordinary and Tragic Story of the Legendary Codebreaker with drawings by Éric Liberge and text by Arnaud Delalande. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016.
A moving look into the life of Alan Turing who is famous for creating a machine capable of decrypting German messages during World War II. The graphic novel flashes between Turing’s struggle with his sexuality, workplace challenges, and visualizes his thought processes in a captivating way.


The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Cultures. Bonnie J Morris. SUNY University Press, 2017.
Morris chronicles three decades of women-only concerns, festivals, bookstores, and support spaces, as a backstory to the culture lost to mainstreaming and assimilation. This insider story is an important piece of the cultural history of the lesbian-feminist era. As a veteran participant of women’s music festivals, Morris uses her own experience and interviews with older activists to document this history.


Doll Parts: A Memoir. Amanda Lepore and Thomas Flannery. Regan Arts, 2017.
This coffee table book is almost as gorgeous as its subject. Amanda Lepore is one of the most famous transgender women in the world, having modelled for famous photographers and becoming a staple of the New York City’s Club Kids scene in the 80s & 90s. Acting, singing, and just being seen, Lepore is instantly recognizable with her numerous plastic surgery procedures to look like a living doll. This book flaunts her fabulousness with beautiful photographs, unbelievable tales, and choice words of wisdom on how to live life to the fullest.


The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory’s Defiant Subjects. Mari Ruti. Columbia University Press, 2017.
Ruti uses some queer theorists’ rejection of gay marriage as a building block to explore “opting out” of normative narratives. She uses the influences of Jacques Lacan, a French psychoanalyst, to explore contemporary queer theory and its underpinnings.


Everywhere Home: A Life in Essays. Fenton Johnson. Sarabande Books, 2017.
Harper’s Magazine contributor, Fenton Johnson’s collection spans the years 1989-2016. His roots are in the Kentucky mountains, but his home is writing as evident in this eclectic selection with themes ranging from boyhood, his sexuality, loss of his partner to AIDS, and politics to name a few. The writing is erudite and graceful, peppered with literary allusions and history. It will leave the reader searching back issues of Harper’s for more.


Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York. Donald Albrecht. Skira Rizzoli, 2016.
An accessible look into the history of queer art culture in New York City with beautiful photographs and artwork that ranges from 1910-1992. Albrecht provides a unique look into how New York artists have struggled with oppression, asserted their identities, and employed art to find strength.


Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation, 2nd ed. Simon LeVay. Oxford University Press, 2017.
LeVay is a neuroscientist who breaks down the science of sexuality into layman’s terms. In this edition, LeVay covers various studies on sexuality and includes chapters on traits during childhood, genes, and the body. The book is a solid introduction and collection of research on sexual orientation that acknowledges the limitations of research in this area.


Gay-Straight Alliances and Associations Among Youth in Schools. Cris Mayo. Palgrave MacMillan, 2017.
In this series of studies, Mayo examines the creation of school-sanctioned and informal Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs). GSAs provide examples and case studies of intersectionality, opportunity, new ways of approaching political action, new ways of knowing and new subjectivities. Such alliances generally focus on a single facet of identity, neglecting others, but still give young people ways to reach out for connection across sexualities, genders, races, and other differences. The book examines the youths’ experiences as a process of “negotiation across and within differences in a particular institutional context,” showing the fractures in the process and the creative and individual ways they find commonality within division, form connection despite barriers, and express the desire to change what is for what can be.


Gender Bending Detective Fiction: A Critical Analysis of Selected Works. Heather Duerre Humann. McFarland & Co Inc Pub, 2017.
Literary criticism of the American mystery genre has become richer with the addition of Humann’s thoughtful, readable, layered analyses. She highlights books from Spillane’s I, the Jury to James’ Transition to Murder and beyond, over seventy years of cultural change and shifting attitudes toward gender and sexuality. By focusing on how gender is shown, concealed, transformed, criminalized, punished or rewarded since World War II, she traces threads of social transgression, personal loss, and struggle via close examination of specific scenes and overall themes. An outstanding contribution to the critical interpretation of the genre.

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me. Bill Hayes. Bloomsbury USA, 2017.
Grieving the death of his lover, Hayes uproots his life and moves to New York City where he finds healing through street photography and an unexpected romance. Entering into a second act of his life, Hayes falls in love with renowned neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, who ends up battling and losing his fight with cancer. This is an homage to Sacks – a celebration of his life, and the love that he and Hayes shared together.


Into the Light: Photographs of the NYC Gay Pride Day from the 70’s till today. Stanley Stellar. Bruno Gmünder, 2017.
Stanley Stellar is one of the seminal photographers who documented the early days of Gay Liberation in New York. This collection of black and white and color photographs of the parades and street scenes captures the mood of each decade: the hedonistic 70s, the AIDS crisis, to the era of marriage equality. His book is a worthy document of GLBTQ history.


Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray. Rosalind Rosenberg. Oxford University Press, 2017.
This thorough and deeply researched investigation of African American lawyer and activist Pauli Murray, documents the way in which Murray pursued an intersectional activism. Born in 1910 in the JIm Crow south, Murray fought the interconnection of race, gender and economic inequality throughout her life and ultimately altered the course of civil rights and women’s rights.


Listen, We Need to Talk: How to Change Attitudes about LGBT Rights. Brian F. Harrison & Melissa R. Michelson. Oxford University Press, 2017.
This book examines the acceptance of LGBTQIA+ rights by individuals within social groups, and how the attitudes of perceived leaders of the group influence individual attitudes. The authors posit a Theory of Dissonant Identity Priming which they tested in four social groups (sports fans, members of religious groups, persons by self-identified racial groups, and political partisanship. Findings indicate individuals are more apt to support queer rights if leaders of their social group do, particularly if such support is unexpected. The take-away is that “political communication that primes a social identity can change attitudes” in unexpected, substantive, and positive ways.


Living a Feminist Life. Sara Ahmed. Duke University Press, 2017.
An accessible primer on feminism that explores what it means on a practical level. Ahmed intersperses her views about what it means to be feminist with anecdotes from her personal and academic life. In addition to having two conclusions, Ahmed’s text features three sections: Becoming Feminist, Diversity Work, Living the Consequences.


Logical Family: A Memoir. Armistead Maupin. Harper, 2017.
This is a long overdue memoir by the acclaimed author of the modern-day classic series Tales of the City. Armistead Maupin invites us into his childhood in the American South during the mid-century, then takes us onto a wild ride through his adventures serving in the Vietnam War, and finally lands in 1970s San Francisco, where gay liberation would shape this young man into being one of the biggest influences on gay culture and literature today.


Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey. Ila Jane Borders and Jean Hastings Ardell. Univ of Nebraska Press, 2017.
This memoir is the story of the first woman to win a men’s college baseball game. A pioneer for women in professional baseball, Jane Borders endured stalkers and death threats in an isolating environment as she also struggled with her sexual orientation while playing with a minor league team. This inspiring account is an important sports and LGBTQ memoir.


Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression. David Leite. Dey Street Books, 2017.
An entertaining memoir that details Leite’s life growing up in a Portuguese family and his struggle with mental health, career, and coming to terms with his sexuality. Leite takes an unexpected path as his study of acting eventually gives way to his very successful career as a food writer.


One Of These Things First. Steven Gaines. Delphinium, 2016.
Gaines’ memoir of growing up gay and Jewish in midcentury New York is brimming with both wit and compassion even in its grittiest moments. From his family’s girdle store on the streets of Brooklyn to the Manhattan psychiatric hospital where he was hospitalized for a suicide attempt, Gaines’ narration is textural and effusive, capturing both love and pain without veering into seediness.


One Man Show: The Life and Art of Bernard Perlin. Michael Schreiber. Bruno Gmünder, 2016.
One Man Show is an oral history as well as a retrospective of the life and work of a 20th century American artist who lived his life as an out gay man in the years before and after WWII. The author transcribes interviews made in the last years of Perlin’s life. Perlin’s career began in 1942 with Office of War Information drawing posters that are famous today. His style used elements of magical realism. Schreiber’s work is compelling and will make more people aware of the work of this talented artist.


A Pornographer: A Memoir. Arch Brown. Chelsea Station, 2017.
Arch Brown’s memoir was found in a desk after his death in 2012. In 1967, he was an out gay man in New York with a 16mm camera who discovered men and some women were eager to pose and perform on film. What began as a hobby became a career when Brown began working in the 1970’s hardcore scene. This is a fascinating story of an insightful filmmaker and a history of the pornographic film industry in the 1960s and 70s.


Queer Game Studies. Bonnie Ruberg. University of Minnesota Press, 2017.
This anthology centers on “exploring difference in games and exploring games as different”. Essays explore the intersection of gaming and queerness far beyond only representation and inclusion, challenging the stereotype both within and outside game studies and queer theory. Gender play, hybridity, mythology, policing, empathy games, technical and cultural systemic bias, role play, hostility faced by female gamers, the ‘bendiness’ of genre, the queerness in game design, play, and community, and more all covered in this extensive beginning of an expansion in how the queer in gaming, and the game in queerness, may be explored.


A Queer Love Story: The Letters of Jane Rule and Rick Bébout. Edited by Marilyn Schuster. University of British Columbia Press, 2017.
This rich compilation of fifteen years of correspondence between the older lesbian public figure, Rule, and the gay male AIDS activist columnist, Bébout, chronicles the pressing queer social and political issues of the time; pornography, bath house raids, censorship, youth sexuality, public sex, and AIDS. Beyond the issues, the letters document a love of writing and a deep friendship.


Queering Families. Carla A. Pfeffer. Oxford University Press, 2016.
A nuanced and well-researched study of the common and sometimes controversial phenomenon of relationships and family-building between cisgender women and transgender men. Pfeffer traces the connections between butch and femme, cis and trans, lesbian identification and identity “border wars” with compassion and thorough methodology. A substantial close read on expanding concepts of family and identity. Excellent for academic and queer theory collections.


The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir. Ariel Levy. Random House, 2017.
Levy’s deeply personal memoir invites us to understand how she charts her own path, found her way into a marriage with an alcoholic wife and struggles to make her relationship work. In addition, Levy gives insight to her miscarriage that causes those around her to question her choices and forces her to find the strength to move forward.


Seeing Straight: An Introduction to Gender and Sexual Privilege. Jean Halley, Amy Eshleman. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
An accessible and optimistic primer on concepts of sexuality, gender, privilege and power written as an entry point for those who may not be familiar with intra-community language. Without defensiveness and using real life examples, Halley and Eshleman have written a necessary text comparable to “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. Highly recommended for general collections.


So Famous and So Gay: the Fabulous Potency of Truman Capote and Gertrude Stein. Jeff Solomon. University of Minnesota Press, 2017.
A dense analysis of the careers of authors Gertrude Stein and Truman Capote, two queer icons in literature. Solomon compares and contrasts their careers as contemporaries, albeit in different countries and entirely opposing styles. The focus is on their works and how they, as authors and public figures, navigated the social mores and prevailing homophobia of their era.


Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me. Janet Mock. Atria Books, 2017.
This is the inspiring account of a young trans woman of color who reflects back on the trials and tribulations of her twenties and the lessons learned. Attending school by day and stripping by night, Mock winds up falling for one of her customers and discovering that she is worthy of love and more. Like any new adult, Mock navigates her 20s holding on to her secret, learning whom she can trust, and breaking hearts (including her own) along the way.


Teaching Queer: Radical Possibilities for Writing and Knowing. Stacey Waite. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.
In this text, Waite, “…explore(s) the terrain where queer theory, writing, and pedagogy overlap, intersect, and move into one another.” In addition to employing queer theory, Waite shares practical experiences teaching a first-year writing course and includes insightful responses from her students.


Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977 – 2002). David Sedaris. Little, Brown and Company, 2017.
In Part One of two volumes, this collection of diary entries traces back the musings and observations of funnyman David Sedaris, who uses his entries as fodder for future writings that would eventually establish him as a comedic literary giant. Dating back to his youth, we witness his journey from high school dropout to drug user to the start of his literary career. Not the usual Sedaris book, but not an outright autobiography either. Some entries will depress you, shock you, and even offend you. It’s David Sedaris on display, the good, bad, and the ugly, but entertaining all the way through.


Tomboy Survival Guide. Ivan E. Coyote. Arsenal Pulp, 2016.
Prolific writer, storyteller, and performer, Ivan E. Coyote’s memoir of a childhood in the Canadian Yukon is both joyous and bittersweet. They invite the reader into a personal, yet often uncomfortable place by recounting daily stresses of not fitting in their body or community while simultaneously dispensing sage advice for teens coming out. The book is illustrated with drawings of machines and tools and their instructions, as would be included in a conventional survival guide.


Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout. Laura Jane Grace with Dan Ozzi. Hachette Books, 2016.
Laura Jane Grace is the lead singer of the punk band, Against Me!, which came together in the mid 1990s. Grace describes her experience struggling to make her band successful and trying to reconcile her gender dysphoria. The memoir takes us through two marriages and band conflicts before Grace finds some peace by transitioning to live as a woman.


Transitioning Together: One Couple’s Journey of Gender and Identity Discovery. Wenn B. Lawson and Beatrice M. Lawson. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017.
Autism researcher and writer Wenn Lawson is joined by his wife Beatrice in this conversational, loving memoir about their relationship. The two explore aging, changing sexuality, gender transition and living with autism with both joy and honesty. An illuminating view into the lives of queer people on the autism spectrum from a standpoint of clarity and autonomy.


Truth to Power: The New York Native 1980-1997. Charles Ortleb. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.
An engaging read revolving around the small independent gay newspaper The New York Native and its role during the AIDS crisis during the early 80s. Publisher Charles Ortleb helped to sound the alarm about AIDS and its relationship to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with ruthless research and reporting. While trying to fight the good fight, he also dealt with the medical community trying to shut his paper down in order to quiet him. This is a riveting and important read that adds to the legacy of resistance and survival of the LGBTQ+ community and their history.


Understanding and Teaching US Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History. 2nd ed. Edited by Leila J. Rupp and Susan K Freeman. Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2017.
A volume of superb essays, tying LGBT content to the broader goals of teaching history, social sciences, and LGBT studies. Over twenty-five scholars offer classroom strategies and experiences.This second edition updates essays on the Supreme Court, samesex marriage, the Right, and trans history, with new material and references.


What the Mouth Wants: a Memoir of Food, Love, and Belonging. Monica Meneghetti. Caitlin Press, 2017.
Growing up in an Italian-Catholic immigrant family as the baby, Meneghetti explores sensuality in all aspects of her life, diving into meals and romances with equal gusto. This memoir is a series of vignettes strung together to create a whole picture of her experience growing up and coming out, her bisexuality and polyamory. A delightful quick read that will stoke the appetite.


When We Rise: My Life in the Movement. Cleve Jones. Hachette Books, 2016.
Mandatory reading for anyone who is LGBTQ+ is what this book should be. It is the personal account of major gay rights pioneer, Cleve Jones. Not only does he describe his fight for the queer movement, but he also shares memories of his time working alongside another community icon, Harvey Milk. San Francisco in the 70s serves as the backdrop for this important history lesson, and Jones finds himself in the middle of it all. When the AIDS crisis arrives in the 80s, the call to action continues to certify Jones as one of the leading gay activists of our time.


Women and Gay Men in The Postwar Period. John Portmann. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.
This study of the historical affinity between woman and gay men explores an oft-misunderstood phenomenon in public and private spheres with clarity and affection. Portmann makes it clear his work is “suggestive, not inclusive, and allusive, rather than empirical”. Despite his disclaimer, Portmann delivers an illuminating and accessible reflection on intimacies and solidarities throughout the mid-to-late 20th century. Highly recommended.


“You’re In The Wrong Bathroom!” And 20 Other Myths and Misconceptions About Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming People. Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD and Laura A. Jacobs, LCSW-R. Beacon Press, 2017.
In a well-researched and annotated compilation, 21 common misunderstandings about transgender or gender non-conforming individuals are explored and debunked. A solid introduction for folks about different aspects of the experience of transgender people.


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