The New York Public Library is hosting an exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of Stonewall this summer. I walk by on my way to work every day and often think of an evening I spent at the library more than 30 years ago when I was a student at NYU. It was a reading and Q&A with Edmund White, one of gay literature’s great novelists.
Novels by gay writers were hugely important to me growing up gay in the 1980s. AIDS was decimating my community just as I was looking for a community to join. Gay literature helped me feel less alone. Less strange. Less afraid. Novels like White’s A Boy’s Own Story and The Beautiful Room is Empty helped me understand my own experiences and give context to my hopes and fears.
As I celebrate the 50th anniversary of the gay rights movement this summer with World Pride in my beloved city of New York, I will go to the parade to cheer on my community as I have done for so many years. And I will continue to seek understanding, empathy and enchantment from gay novelists.
I recently finished Stephen McCauley’s funny and bittersweet novel My Ex-Life, his sixth I’ve read since discovering The Object of My Affection in 1987. I’m thrilled that he, Edmund White, David Leavitt and others from my youth are still writing great books. I’m thrilled to continue discovering new novelists like Andrew Sean Greer. And proud to express my Pride in gay literature on this astounding anniversary.