To celebrate LGBT History month we asked Casey Gerald, author of acclaimed memoir There Will Be No Miracles Here to share his top 5 LGBT+ books.

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Giovanni's RoomGiovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

I read it when I was twenty-four … there was no turning back after this line: “People can't, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life.”

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Perhaps the best queer novel I’ve ever read. The relationship between Celie and Shug Avery is so natural and sublime. Toward the end Celie and Mr.__ have a conversation about their un-catchable lover, which stuns Celie (for reasons that will be clear if you read the novel): “Love can’t be halted just cause some peoples moan and groan. It don’t surprise me you love Shug Avery, he say. I have love Shug Avery all my life.”

Cruising Utopia by Jose Esteban MunozCruising Utopia

I was reading this book when I learned that a dear friend had taken his life, and Munoz’s work helped me see my way through that awful period. It also taught me what my own book, as a work of queer art, could do. He writes: “Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on…concrete possibility for another world.

Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

Whenever I fear I’m crossing a line in my life or work, I look to Genet and remember that he has blasted the lines away. Here is the narrator of Our Lady, speaking of a former love interest: “If I continue, he will rise up, become erect, and penetrate me so deeply that I shall be marked with stigmata.” Genet is the master of making the profane sacred.

CeremoniesCeremonies by Essex Hemphill

Hemphill is a patron saint poet, of a generation of black gay American men devastated by the AIDS epidemic, whose work is as urgent and glorious now as it was during his life. American Wedding is my favorite poem of his: “Every time we kiss / we confirm the new world coming.”