In the twenty years since its first appearance in the West, AIDS has been the subject of a large body of literature, most of it written by gay men and much of it designed to expose readers as closely as possible to the emergency of the epidemic and the suffering of affected individuals.
The author of triumphant rags-to-riches stories of young men who succeed financially by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, Horatio Alger, Jr. created an enduring American myth that his actual life belied.
South Carolina native Dorothy Allison refuses to write didactic or romantic illustrations of the lesbian experience, focusing instead on the sheer survival of her lesbian characters in the hostile environment of Southern working-class families.
American novelist Lisa Alther creates fictional worlds in which lesbianism is a fluctuating force as tenuous as all other forms of relationships in a frequently absurd universe.
Although largely invisible to the general public, a large body of twentieth-century gay male literature by American authors was published prior to Stonewall, some of it positive but most of it tinged with misery or bleakness as the price of being published and disseminated.
After Stonewall, gay male literature became focused as a movement, aided by the development of gay newspapers, magazines, and quarterlies and the founding of serious gay and lesbian bookstores.
American lesbian literature prior to Stonewall exploited the "outlaw" status of the lesbian as it moved from encrypted strategies of expression to overt political celebrations of woman-for-woman passion.
Since Stonewall various political agendas have dominated American lesbian literature.
Although sometimes coded as romantic friendship, both gay male and lesbian attractions are reflected in nineteenth-century American poetry and fiction, including works by such major figures as Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson.
Most gay, lesbian, and bisexual American writers who adhered to Marxist-oriented parties and social movements between 1917 and the 1960s strove to hide their sexual orientation, and some even depicted homosexuals negatively in their fiction and drama.
Performance artist, story teller, essayist, and novelist, Jonathan Ames describes himself as "the gayest straight writer in America."
Best known as editor of the early twentieth-century literary journal The Little Review, Margaret Anderson also published a frank lesbian novel and a three-volume autobiography.
Terry Andrews is the pseudonym under which was published The Story of Harold, one of the most remarkable queer books of the twentieth century.
Persecuted for his homosexuality by the Castro government he had once championed, Cuban novelist, essayist, and poet Reinaldo Arenas challenged all types of ideological dogmatism.
Lesbian and feminist novelist and publisher June Fairfax Davis gave voice to complicated characters who previously had no voice in literature.
In the past two decades Australia has come to occupy a leading place in gay and lesbian literature, and New Zealand has recently produced some significant gay and lesbian texts.
James Baldwin, a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.
One of the masters of French nineteenth-century fiction, Balzac provocatively includes both lesbian and gay male characters in his novels.
In a series of five interlinked pulp novels set in Greenwich Village and its homosexual bars in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Bannon provides an important record of lesbian life in a period when few women dared speak openly about homosexuality.
American novelist Djuna Barnes sought new forms of self-representation of lesbians in the face of society's compulsory heterosexuality.
Allen Barnett wrote stories unlikely to be surpassed for their depiction of gay life at the height of the AIDS pandemic.
In addition to being the muse and inspiration of other writers, American expatriate Natalie Barney, known as the Amazon, was a poet, memoirist, and epigrammatist in her own right.
James Barr is the pseudonym under which James Fugaté published the popular novel Quatrefoil (1950) and other works, and which he used as an activist in the homophile movement of the 1950s.
British theater director, performer, writer, and translator Neil Bartlett reinvents the past as a way of articulating the present.
Extremely wealthy and connected to the aristocracy, British author and connoisseur William Beckford was ostracized by English society for the last sixty years of his life because of his homosexuality.