Queer Gems - Absorbing, Brilliant Memoir

By Gay's The Word

By Gay's The Word

A list of perhaps less well known but incredible LGBT+ literary biography

The Trauma Cleaner

Sarah Krasnostein

£8.99 £8.36

A unique and extraordinary literary life-biography of a woman called Sandra Pankhurst, a trans, Australian trauma cleaner: literally the person who cleans-up murder sites, scenes of suicides and works with people with extreme hoarding, and often acute mental health problems. From heart-breaking beginnings as a woefully neglected young child, despised by 'his' adoptive parents, to becoming a husband and father, then walking out on ‘his’ life to embody their true gender identity. A path that took Sandra from drag performer to prostitute, to wife and business woman, only to loose everything. Sandra is incredible, a truly astonishing woman, and her life-story is told here with great sensitivity and tenderness. Affirming and unforgettable.

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver Sacks, and Me

Bill Hayes

£9.99 £9.29

Set in New York, the city that never sleeps, Insomniac City is a beautiful, life-affirming jewel of a memoir about the author’s relationship with the late neurologist Oliver Sacks. Sacks, known as the poet laureate of contemporary medicine, was the author of Awakenings, which was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Robin Williams. Following the sudden death of a previous partner, Bill Hayes moved to New York City in 2009 on a one-way ticket. There he met Oliver and they fell in love. Told through a mixtures of vignettes, journal notes, observations and snippets of conversations, this extraordinary book is the story of their relationship, but it is also a love-letter to a unique city. From the intermingling constellation of lives brought together on the New York subway, to random encounters on the sidewalk. Adorned with Bill Hayes’ photographs which are scattered throughout the book, Insomniac City captures an essence of New Yorkers and the moments he shares with them. With themes ranging from go-go boys to geology, classic music to the aeronautic geometry of skateboarding, there is life in these pages. A joyous and poignant memoir about love and intimacy, about dealing with loss, talking to strangers and revelling in life.

In the Dream House: A Memoir

Carmen Maria Machado

£9.99 £9.29

Winner of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Non-fiction and the Publishing Triangle Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Non-Fiction, this is Carmen Maria Machado's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad. An astonishing, magpie-minded memoir from the author of Her Body And Other Parties.

The Queen of Whale Cay: The Extraordinary Story of 'Joe' Carstairs, the Fastest Woman on Water

Kate Summerscale

£9.99 £9.29

'A small jewel of a biography.' - The New Yorker ~~~'A fascinating, hilarious and deliciously subversive book.' - Literary Review~~~ Born in 1900 to a promiscuous American oil heiress and a British army captain, Marion Barbara Carstairs realised very early on that she was not like most little girls. Liberated by war work in WWI, Marion reinvented herself as Joe, and quickly went on to establish herself as a leading light of the fashionable lesbian demi-monde. She dressed in men's clothes, smoked cigars and cheroots, tattooed her arms, and became Britain's most celebrated female speed-boat racer - the 'fastest woman on water'.

Darling Days: A New York City Childhood

Io Tillett Wright

£9.99 £9.29

'I missed an unprecedented two subway stops because I was so engrossed in iO Tillett Wright's East Village memoir Darling Days. A riveting story about growing up trans with a mentally ill mother, it will make you fall for the precocious, streetwise iO.' - Olivia Laing, Guardian

Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England

Neil McKenna

£12.99 £12.08

'Uproarious ... McKenna relates their astonishing story with meticulously researched relish ... McKenna captures their arrest with the same joie de vivre as Stella and Fanny lived their tumultuous lives: a blur of petticoats, shrieks and confusion ... It's a wonderful, gripping and moving story, including a pithy epilogue revealing what happened next to the major players.' - The Times 28th April 1870. Fanny and Stella, the flamboyantly dressed Miss Fanny Park and Miss Stella Boulton, are causing a stir in the Strand Theatre. All eyes are riveted upon their lascivious oglings of the gentlemen in the stalls. Moments later they are led away by the police. What followed was a scandal that shocked and titillated Victorian England in equal measure.

House of Nutter: The Rebel Tailor of Savile Row

Lance Richardson

£10.99 £10.22

A fascinating and highly enjoyable social history biography of two gay brothers, bespoke tailoring innovator Tommy Nutter and his sibling the celebrity photographer David, both early influencers of some of the most famous stars of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, including the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Cilla Black and Elton John. Growing up above an Edgware café, the brothers seemed destined to lead humble lives in post-war London yet the strength of their imagination transformed them into unlikely protagonists of a cultural revolution. In 1969, at the age of twenty-six, Tommy opened a ground-breaking new boutique on Savile Row, the iconic House of Nutter, which became an immediate sensation among the young, rich, and beautiful. From the streets of swinging London to explosion of disco in Manhattan, Lance Richardson eloquently relays the glamorous true story of two gay men who influenced some of the most iconic styles and pop images of the twentieth century. Reads with the seamless splendour of a beautiful bespoke suit. Enchanting, irreverent and entertaining.

The End of Eddy

Edouard Louis

£8.99 £8.36

The End of Eddy is Édouard Louis’ bestselling autobiographical novel about class, violence and sexuality in France. The author, who was 21 when book was first published, has written an intense account of life growing up in Hallencourt, a village in the north of the country, where many live below the poverty line, revealing the violence, homophobia, and racism alive in some areas of France today. The conspicuously effeminate boy in the village, Eddy grew up painfully conscious of his difference to those around him. Ridiculed, shunned, regularly assaulted and degraded, young Eddy suffered years of abuse and humiliation, at times from members of his own family. Intelligent, honest and perceptive this is an often challenging portrayal of the debilitating effect of homophobia and intolerance, generational disenfranchisement and social inequality. Vital, raw and brave.

Fathers and Sons

Howard Cunnell

£8.99 £8.36

The evocative and beautifully written memoir about novelist Howard Cunnell's childhood growing up on the south coast of England, a time filled with bright coastal light and a sense of his Father’s absence, and then, years later, his own experience of fatherhood, as his daughter transitions into his son. Sliding elegantly back and forward in time and across locations from Sussex to South London, this is a mesmerising exploration of love, fatherhood, books, identity and gender written with great sensitivity and honesty.

Fathomless Riches: Or How I Went From Pop to Pulpit

Reverend Richard Coles

£9.99 £9.29

The Reverend Richard Coles's warm, witty and wise memoir in which he divulges with searing honesty his pilgrimage from a rock-and-roll life of sex and drugs in the Communards to one devoted to God and Christianity. 'He writes with charm and erudition and his take on 1980s Britain is fascinating.' - Virginia Blackburn

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Olivia Laing

£9.99 £9.29

When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Increasingly fascinated by this most shameful of experiences, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between the works and lives of some of the city's most compelling artists, Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed.

The Argonauts

Maggie Nelson

£9.99 £9.29

An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. It binds an account of Nelson's relationship with her partner and a journey to and through a pregnancy to a rigorous exploration of sexuality, gender, and family.