Loved the podcast?
Now read the book!
A radical reading list
from the authors of
Bad Gays is a podcast about evil and complicated queers in history, hugely popular and now in its third series. Hosts Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller have now written a book to accompany the series; part-revisionist history, part-historical biography, Bad Gays subverts the notion of gay icons and queer heroes and asks what we can learn about LGBTQ history, sexuality and identity through its villains and baddies. With fans such as Olivia Laing and Shon Faye, this really is the book to be seen with this Pride season, and you can find out more about the upcoming Bad Gays podcast recording at out Charing Cross Road store here.
Especially for Foyles Huw and Ben have put together a radical reading list for anyone who has enjoyed their book and podcast and would like to read further
Times Square Red, Times Square Blue by Samuel R. Delany
Samuel Delany is rightly feted for his incredible contribution to the body of science fiction literature as the author of novels like Babel-17 and Dhalgren. Yet in Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, he explores a world closer to home: the sexual subcultures that existed in New York throughout his lifetime. Part sexual memoir, part sociological study, Delany looks at how policing, class, urban development and desire have shaped the way people interact in the modern metropole, and in doing so argues for the subversive and social value of chance contacts and enduring sexual acquaintances.
Gentrification of the Mind by Sarah Schulman
Gentrification of the Mind is an astonishing, compassionate, and righteously furious work about the relationship between the political policy of gentrification in New York City, and the enduring effects of the AIDS crisis. In doing so, she complicates and questions existing narratives about urban development, government neglect, sexuality and race, while arguing that the human effects of gentrification are much wider than economic displacement, with culture and even homosexuality being subject to gentrifying change.
Terrorist Assemblages by Jasbir Puar
This groundbreaking work, in the fifteen years since publication, has become essential reading for understanding the way western neoliberal democracies have deputised the figure of the homosexual as an ideological footsoldier in the War on Terror. While western societies push the erroneous idea that LGBTQ rights are the inevitable product of liberal democracy, Puar complicates that story by arguing, instead, that racialised ideas of deviance and patriotism have instead privileged certains types of homosexuality while opening up people of colour and muslims to increased policing, violence and discrimination on the grounds of defending gay rights.
Toward a Gay Communism by Mario Mieli
Recently translated into English after having first been published in Italian in the late 1970s, Towards a Gay Communism was a landmark text of the sort of leftist homosexual and queer theory emerging in Europe at that moment. Deeply influenced by countercultural movements of the time as well as by the sort of antiauthoritarian currents that were transforming the left, the book uses psychoanalysis and Marxism to produce a critique of capitalism and sexual repression and offers a look at how liberation needs to be both economic and libidal.
Variations, by Juliet Jacques
Queer history is, above all, the excavation of real lives covered over and obscured by repression, supression and violence. In Variations Juliet Jaques uses short fiction to tell the sort of stories of queer life in Britain that have been lost over the past century. Inventive, idiosyncratic, and rich in observed detail, Variations fictionalised accounts of twentieth century queer lives adds an emotional depth that is often absent from a history usually told through police records and trial transcripts.
Three Month Fever, by Gary Indiana
Gary Indiana’s nonfiction novel tracing the life of Andrew Cunanan up to and including his murder of Gianni Versace in 1998 is the source of our book’s epigraph, a fabulous sentence about how homosexuals are classified as things that belong in the sewer, and are therefore uniquely qualified to determine what belongs and what does not belong in that sewer. This terrifying book demonstrates convincingly that every gay man turning thirty is three failed relationships and one collapsed career away from a nationwide shooting spree. It’s like if Truman Capote got angrier and dirtier. Gay pride? Try gay shame on for size.
Racism and the Making of Gay Rights, by Laurie Marhoefer
This forthcoming book by the brilliant historian Laurie Marhoefer complicates our vision of Magnus Hirschfeld as the great hero of early 20th century homosexual emancipation. Demonstrating Hirschfeld’s complicity in the dominant racist, eugenic, and colonial power systems of his time––and examining his late-life relationship with his Chinese student, Li Shiu Tong––Marhoefer encourages us to think more critically and more wildly about the limits of gay politics and the haunted history of gay liberation.
One-Dimensional Queer, by Roderick Ferguson
A clear and essential denunciation of single-issue politics when it comes to gay rights. We’re constantly being told by centrist ghouls that anti-racist and anti-capitalist queer politics are some new woke invention distracting from the sober, adult work of securing tax benefits for wealthy, married same-sex couples. Ferguson shows the story is flipped. Queer politics have become more singular and less solidaristic over time. In so doing, they excluded many people and also made the rights we have won more fragile. This book is both a history of this process and a manifesto for thinking about queer liberation in a more inclusive and revolutionary way.
Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity on the Gay and Lesbian Left, by Emily Hobson
The 1970s politics of gay liberation are often unfairly remembered as only a time of “drugs, dick, disco, and dish.” As good a time as that sounds (and was and is), this lively history explores the lived commitments of gay and lesbian liberation activists to revolutionary, anti-capitalist, and decolonial politics both in the United States and abroad. We have a lot to learn from our queer ancestors –– from how they partied, to how they organized for housing justice and against imperial wars in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
Warped: Gay Normality and Queer Anti-Capitalism, by Peter Drucker
This book is an admirable attempt to do a nearly-impossible thing: to come to terms with the shifting relationships between evolving queer identities and political economy in the 20th century. If this sounds like a dry academic exercise, think again: it’s instead a vital and exciting guide to the ways in which things are far more interconnected than we think, an excellent rubric against which to test our theories about how and why gay politics and people have changed over time.
Huw Lemmey is a novelist, artist and critic living in Barcelona. He is the author of three novels: Unknown Language (2020), Red Tory (2019), and Chubz (2016). He has written for the Guardian, Frieze, Flash Art, Tribune, The Architectural Review, Art Monthly, New Humanist, the White Review, and L'Uomo Vogue, amongst others. As an artist and filmmaker his work has been shown at the ICA, Lux Biennial of Moving Image, Mumok Vienna, Warsaw Museum of Contemporary Art and the Design Museum, London.
Ben Miller is a writer and researcher living in Berlin, where he is currently a Doctoral Fellow at the Graduate School of Global Intellectual History at the Freie Universitat. He has written for the New York Times, Literary Hub, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Tin House, and is the author of The New Queer Photography. He is a member of the board of the Schwules Museum, a queer museum and archive.