4th Estate and William Collins writers open up about LGBTQ+ identities
In celebration of Pride in the UK, we have put together a selection of writing by 4th Estate and William Collins authors who have used their craft to represent the lives of those in the LGBTQ community. Whether writing non-fiction, fiction, or something in the middle, these writers have significantly contributed to the demonstration that love is love, by writing complex depictions of individuals outside the heteronormative spectrum (this list is non-exhaustive).
Tales of coming out
In the first story of Lauren Holmes’s Barbara the Slut (4th Estate) a girl travels to Mexico. Her official mission is bringing Victoria’s Secret underwear for her mum to sell at a marked up price, but her real goal is coming out as someone who likes girls. Read an extract of Barbara the Slut here.
Earlier this month, the Guardian featured several British writers talking about the books that have helped them with coming out and accepting their sexual orientation. Among them, Being Wagner (William Collins) author Simon Callow wrote about books that eased him into the gradual process that is coming out.
Callow notes the book One in Twenty by Labour MP Bryan Magee, shook him out of his deep depression that years of reading medical books on homosexuality had plunged him into.
‘After reading it, I never again felt the need to apologise for my desires, and it led directly to my having the courage, when I started acting, to state clearly that I was gay. That turned out to be quite helpful, and for that I have the remarkably clear-sighted Bryan Magee to thank.’
The Party by Elizabeth Day also tackles the complex realisation of what coming out as an adult to yourself and then to those that you love can feel like. Read an excerpt from the book here.
Tales of the joys of gay life
Rick is the hero of Stevan Alcock’s Blood Relatives (4th Estate) , a novel that follows his bold steps out into 1970s gay life, paralleled by the changing music scene of punk, and the social disjointed politics of the far-right butting up against the nascent projection of Gay Power and LGBT politics.
In an essay titled “My life, lived gaily”, Simon Callow chronicles his life from 1949 until present day and all the changes that have happened to gay and queer people since then. Featuring key policies directed at gay men, covering social prejudices as well as health risks (e.g. the Aids pandemic) it is a refreshing reminder of just why – amidst all the negativity surrounding it – queerness is still something to be celebrated.
Tales of gay resistance
In Philip Hensher’s The Emperor Waltz (4th Estate), we are introduced to Duncan, who in 1979 swipes capital from his hated father to open London’s first gay bookshop in the face of violent homophobia.
In this Guardian article, Philip Hensher picks his list of 10 gay books that changed the world.
Tales of great romance
Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain was published 20 years ago by 4th Estate. It has since become an unparalleled classic of gay literature and an award-winning major motion picture featuring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenehaal.
Tales of gender
The world of Nell Zink’s Mislaid (4th Estate) is a topsy-turvy, joy-filled one, in which gender designations are shown to be, to quote the New York Times, ‘infallibly irrelevant to the highly individual business of living and loving according to our instincts rather than larger, social expectations’.
Published by William Collins, feminist writer Susan Faludi’s In the Darkroom was on of the most spoken about memoirs of 2016, hailed as ‘an out-and-out masterpiece’ by the Observer. The book focuses on Faludi’s father. Steven spent years altering photos in darkrooms. In Susan’s teens he flees their home after years of instability, later returning to his home country of Hungary. In the year 2004 Susan Faludi reconnects with her estranged parent after receiving an email saying they are a ‘complete woman now’; In the Darkroom covers Susan Faludi’s trip to meet her father – now Stefanie. The book was described as ‘an extraordinary act of love’ to the parent Faludi lost in 2015 – it is a compassionate work about trans womxn, which writes about but not for them.
Marianne Tatepo is a Publishing Executive at William Collins and 4th Estate.
Lettice Franklin is Assistant Commissioning Editor at 4th Estate.
Bengono Bessala is a Marketing Assistant at 4th Estate.