Terrific early models of LGBT+ publishing came from the likes of Gay Men’s Press and Naiad Press. Other houses, such as Peter Owen who brought James Purdy and Paul and Jane Bowles to the UK, or St Martin’s Press in the States, folded powerful LGBT+ writing into wider lists.
Barbican Press takes on that model. Here’s a look at our LGBT+ titles.
Two Polari Prize books first. Sarah Walton’s Rufius was longlisted for that prize. Rufius is a powerful Roman exiled to run the library of Alexandria. His penchant is taking a passive role with boys found on the street. Steven Saylor loved the book, but said it could not have been published in the USA. It breaks so many bounds. And it’s wonderful and ultimately very moving.
We first heard of Paul Harfleet’s gorgeous Pansy Boy when it was in draft. The Guardian featured it, a work of beauty looking for a home. It tells of a boy tackling homophobia by planting pansies, and includes lovingly drawn field guides to flowers and birds. One for children, but a beauteous book for adults too.
Maggie Hamand’s Virgin & Child, a wild and bold story of the first Irish Pope, explores a unique trans world. To say more is to give you spoilers. Colin W. Sargent’s The Boston Castrato gives a unique trans perspective too, looking at the life of the last castrato. Set in 1920s Boston this also takes us deep inside the lesbian world and circle of the poet Amy Howell.
For gay poetry, explore James Thornton’s Notes from a Mountain Village. A Pyrenean village gave shelter when James was forced from his country to be the way he loved, and the collection reflects this. You’ll find striking gay poetry from among the writing of ex-offenders too, Hope Walks By Me.
In Martin Goodman’s Ectopia, Steve is gay, sixteen, nicknamed Bender, and the twin of the last girl born on Earth. The world of that book is a London dystopia. High up in Andes, in a variant SF realm, the lead character of Martin Vopenka’s The Fifth Dimension explores his bisexual nature.
Coming up is Richard Zimler’s The Lost Gospel of Lazarus, which depicts the intimate bons between Lazarus and Jesus.
The Polari Prize shortlists used to be dominated by independent presses. Last year mainstream houses led the way – a cause for celebration, as it’s always good to have the mainstream behind you. We stay glad to be an independent home, a barbican, for LGBT+ work with an extra edge.