A Gay Jewish Reading List
Earlier this week, Wayne Hoffman wrote about a funny thing and shared the meaning behind the names of a few of his characters.
When I was first coming out 25 years ago, there were precious few books about being gay and Jewish. Thankfully, that’s not the case today. There are enough to fill whole bookcases. But will anyone who isn’t gay read them?
Conventional wisdom in the publishing industry says that non-gay people won’t read books with gay themes - with the notable exception of works by humorists, such as David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs, who play their lives for laughs. Straight people can’t relate seriously to gay life, the thinking goes; they don’t know from such things, and they don’t want to know.
Even if there’s a kernel of truth in that notion - and I fear, sadly, that there often is - straight Jewish readers in particular should be able to bridge this culture gap by choosing Jewish gay books: While some of the gay content might be unfamiliar, at least the Jewish content will provide a point of identification.
Where to start? Well, my own book, of course. (Here comes the plug.) Sweet Like Sugar includes characters representing a diverse array of Jewish practice, from secular to Orthodox, engaged to alienated. It’s a story of a young man named Benji Steiner, who’s rejected the Jewish traditions he grew up observing, searching for a place where he can still connect to his community. But it also follows Benji on his search for Mr. Right. If you’ve never read a book with gay characters and themes, I hope this’ll be your first.
Check the blog with the article and list of books