Here’s what should be on your queer reading list this Pride

In case you’ve somehow missed the rainbows plastered all over every surface of central London over the last few weeks, tomorrow sees the return of London’s official Pride parade, on the final weekend of Pride month. But Pride doesn’t have to end once the flags have come down, the last stubborn bits of glitter have been rubbed off and the little Sainsos by Leicester Square has restocked on tins of G&T. Want to keep celebrating all summer? Add a couple of these to your holiday reading list.

‘Playboy’ by Constance Debré

Published in France in 2018 and just released in English, ‘Playboy’ is the first instalment of French aristocrat, lawyer and novelist Constance Debré’s’s trilogy of memoirs documenting her decision to come out, quit her job as a defence barrister and become a writer at the age of 43. Short vignettes describing her various sexual experiences with women are spliced with encounters with the men in her life, including the estranged husband with whom she fought a custody battle for her son. It’s gripping and darkly humorous.

‘Queer Art’ by Gemma Rolls-Bentley

Penned by London-based curator Gemma Rolls-Bentley, who’s been at the forefront of queer art for the past two decades, this stunner of a book features the work of over 200 international LGBTQ artists, documenting the various ways that queer art has intersected with and been displayed at nightlife spaces and political protests. It’s a lovely attempt to fill some of the gaps in art history, and will look absolutely fabulous as part of a tasteful curation of ‘objets’ on your coffee table.

‘Women’ by Chloé Caldwell

A tragicomic account of the young author’s explosive, destructive and short-lived first lesbian relationship with a woman 19 years her senior, this cult-classic novella was originally published in 2014 before being reissued by HarperCollins earlier this month. Emily Ratajkowski and Lena Dunham are both fans of its visceral, punchy, humorous prose, which perfectly encapsulates the feeling of losing one’s sense of self to a doomed affair.

‘The Diaries of Mr Lucas: Notes from a Lost Gay Life’ by Hugo Greenhalgh

Writer Hugo Greenhalgh was still a student in 1994 when his then-boyfriend got him a job as a researcher on a BBC documentary about male sex workers and their clients. It was through this that he met the mild-mannered 68-year-old George Leo John Lucas, a retired civil servant living in a squalid little flat in Clapham. Having kept detailed diaries since 1948, Lucas bequeathed his writing to Greenhalgh in his will when he died in 2014 with instructions to publish them. Thus began the laborious process of trawling through several decades’ worth of deliciously indiscreet diary entries documenting Lucas’s double life working at the Board of Trade while spending his nights partying and picking up men on London’s underground gay scene. The result is a fascinating, bitchy, humorous and shocking account of an ordinary gay life in post-war Britain.

‘Sluts’ edited by Michelle Tea

Edited by rabble-rousing San Francisco-based author Michelle Tea, the debut work on her queer publishing imprint Dopamine Press is a mammoth anthology featuring a hugely eclectic series of essays, short stories and memoir pieces from more than 30 global queer authors writing on the subject of promiscuity. Many of its entries are wryly funny, some of them are gasp-worthy, and all of them have something interesting to say on what it means to be a slut in contemporary culture.

‘Three Births’ by K Patrick

The story of a young Australian woman’s slow-burn affair with the wife of the headmaster at the girl’s boarding school she works at, K Patrick’s scorching debut novel ‘Mrs S’ was one of our favourite reads last year, and rightfully earned the author a nod from Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists list. They’ve followed it up with another banger in ‘Three Births’, a poetry collection meditating on intimacy, isolation and the natural world and as the protagonist marries, divorces and moves to a remote spot in the Scottish Highlands. 

‘Evenings and Weekends’ by Oisín McKenna

Set over the course of one baking hot London weekend in July 2019, London-based Irish author Oisín McKenna’s scorcher of a debut has been described as ‘like the book version of a Richard Curtis film’. Like ‘Love Actually’, it tracks the romantic and familiar relationships of a variety of interconnected characters, shifting between several perspectives to offer a brilliantly realised portrait of London during a heatwave. It’s the perfect accompaniment for a Saturday afternoon spent lounging around by the ponds on Hampstead Heath.

Check out our comprensive guide to Pride in London

And read our oral history of legendary east London queer pub The Glory