While I was putting together a 🏳️🌈Pride book stack for a #bookstagram post in June, I realized that I didn’t really have (or know if I had) any queer authors on my shelves. I was disappointed that I couldn’t include queer authors while trying to acknowledge queer people, and was privately called out in my DMs for this as well after the post went up. Trust me, I hear you and I am listening! I weighed the pros and cons of that post extensively before deciding to go ahead with a caption focused on queer issues.
There have always been queer authors since the beginning of literature, but chances are that part of their life was not revealed until much later when societal norms shifted, or it was never revealed at all.
For instance, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Wolfe, James Baldwin, Truman Capote and Walt Whitman are all counted among the LGBTQ+ community. (Whitman is debated by historians as he was notoriously cagey about his personal life, but Wilde is quoted as confirming Whitman was gay and said, “I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips.”)
Speaking of Wilde, did you know that after a botched libel trial initiated by Wilde himself, evidence was present in court that proved Wilde was gay and he was subsequently arrested and jailed for two years (hard labour) for “gross indecency” with men?
Wilde was released from prison in 1897 and published The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life, one year later. He died in 1900 at the age of 46 due to meningitis.
Today, there is a myriad of authors who are publicly “out” and there are others who just don’t feel a need to comment on such things. And honestly I understand it either way. On one hand it’s important to showcase representation for marginalized and oppressed groups, and on the other hand it’s not like straight authors ever have to make a statement about their straightness.
But, in honour of that sassy bitch Wilde, and all others who came before and after him, I present to you my round-up of LGBTQ+ mystery/thriller authors who are indeed out and proud. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but simply a place to start in order to help us diversify our bookshelves with dark and twisty stories that haven’t been written by the typically published cis, straight author.