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Introduction

Origins

This capstone project is a love letter to my undergraduate Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and English Majors at the University of California, Davis. As a lesbian myself, I remember the heartbreak I felt when I first went searching for characters that looked and thought and loved like me, and left my local library empty-handed. I hope to make a virtual collection of queer storylines so that children and adults alike may fall ardently in love with reading the way that I did, and with this love reciprocated in the representation that awaits them here. With this in mind, I have created a counter-archive dedicated to queer literature.

 

Exigency

(Written) representation of the LGBTQ+ community is the centerpiece of both my repository. This is in response to the historical and contemporary overlooking of queer publications from commercial and library shelves and curricula. But it is also in honor of the queer composition that persists in spite of book bans, of writer persecution, of censorship, and more. Queer literature is a site of happiness and scholarship. It is teachable and didactic. And it is pleasurable in its own right. It is worthwhile and plentiful and life-saving. Queer literature is an entry-point for anti-homophobia and anti-heterosexist work. Queer literature is deserving of readership and preservation, and queer folks are equally deserving of being represented.

Long term goals and limitations

This wesbite is still under construction! Many genres remain incomplete. This project will be a years-long one. I will be continually adding to and amending the list as I come across compatible items and as new ones are released. I am also aware that—in its present condition—The Queer Book List is heavily lesbian and bisexual leaning in terms of coverage. This is the representation that I am most familiar with. And as I adjust for evenness, the project will become truly queer in all senses of the word.​​

What is queer literature?

Works that feature a main character who identifies as LGBTQ+ or that deal with LGBTQ+ matters—and with these paramount to the plot. My selection process was piloted by questions like: what kind of representation is being put forward? What is the social location from which the author is writing? Is there any harmful material? What was my own reading experience like? What was the reception like from my community?

What is excluded from that definition?

Perpetually supporting, one-dimensional, and undeveloped queer characters. Tokens, stereotypes, and plot devices made to be killed off. Writing that promotes—whether purposefully or not—heteronormativity and homonormativity. Casts that are wholly middle and upper class, white, and closeted, and with nuclear, child-rearing families. Virtual replicas of their straight complements with the same classed and raced privileges and without designs of undoing the dominant paradigms anytime soon. Reproductions of one story of queerness—who queer people are, what we look like, and how we live. Efforts to flatten LGBTQ+ literature into a single genre or to regulate stories about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual, and intersex people to a self-contained category without care for content and quality.

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