Read Proud: Memoirs & Biographies for Adults

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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh engages all of our communities in literacy and learning. Check out the titles below for contemporary memoirs of LGBTQ individuals and ask your local librarian for more.

Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man

In this groundbreaking new book, the author, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at Madison Square Garden while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence. Through his experience boxing–learning to get hit, and to hit back; wrestling with the camaraderie of the gym; confronting the betrayals and strength of his own body–McBee examines the weight of male violence, the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes, and the limitations of conventional masculinity. A wide-ranging exploration of gender in our society, Amateur is ultimately a story of hope, as McBee traces a new way forward, a new kind of masculinity, inside the ring and outside of it.

In this graceful, stunning, and uncompromising exploration of living, fighting, and healing, we gain insight into the stereotypes and shifting realities of masculinity today through the eyes of a new man.

Boy Erased

The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality.

When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.

By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heart-breaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds

An Excellent Choice: Panic and Joy on My Solo Path to Motherhood

From the author of She Left Me The Gun, an explosive and hilarious memoir about the exceptional and life-changing decision to conceive a child on one’s own via assisted reproduction

When British journalist, memoirist, and New York-transplant Emma Brockes decides to become pregnant, she quickly realizes that, being single, 37, and in the early stages of a same-sex relationship, she’s going to have to be untraditional about it. From the moment she decides to stop “futzing” around, have her eggs counted, and “get cracking”; through multiple trials of IUI, which she is intrigued to learn can be purchased in bulk packages, just like Costco; to the births of her twins, which her girlfriend gamely documents with her iPhone and selfie-stick, Brockes is never any less than bluntly and bracingly honest about her extraordinary journey to motherhood.

She quizzes her friends on the pros and cons of personally knowing one’s sperm donor, grapples with esoteric medical jargon and the existential brain-melt of flipping through donor catalogues and conjures with the politics of her Libertarian OB/GYN–all the while exploring the cultural circumstances and choices that have brought her to this point. Brockes writes with charming self-effacing humor about being a British woman undergoing fertility treatment in the US, poking fun at the starkly different attitude of Americans. Anxious that biological children might not be possible, she wonders, should she resent society for how it regards and treats women who try and fail to have children?

Brockes deftly uses her own story to examine how and why an increasing number of women are using fertility treatments in order to become parents–and are doing it solo. Bringing the reader every step of the way with mordant wit and remarkable candor, Brockes shares the frustrations, embarrassments, surprises, and, finally, joys of her momentous and excellent choice.

I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put By Faith in Beyoncé

Equality for LGBTQ people has come a long way and all, but voices of persons of color within the community are still often silenced, and being Black in America is…well, have you watched the news?

With the characteristic wit and candor that have made him one of today’s boldest writers on social issues, I Can’t Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux’s impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at minority life in today’s America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite.

He eloquently writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; being approached for the priesthood; his obstacles in embracing intimacy that occasionally led to unfortunate fights with fire ants and maybe fleas; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death,the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing–Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley–the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.

I Might Regret This

When Abbi Jacobson announced to friends and acquaintances that she planned to drive across the country alone, she was met with lots of questions and opinions: Why wasn’t she going with friends? Wouldn’t it be incredibly lonely? The North route is better! Was it safe for a woman? The Southern route is the way to go! You should bring mace! And a common one… why? But Abbi had always found comfort in solitude, and needed space to step back and hit the reset button. As she spent time in each city and town on her way to Los Angeles, she mulled over the big questions– What do I really want? What is the worst possible scenario in which I could run into my ex? How has the decision to wear my shirts tucked in been pivotal in my adulthood?

In this collection of anecdotes, observations and reflections–all told in the sharp, wildly funny, and relatable voice that has endeared Abbi to critics and fans alike–readers will feel like they’re in the passenger seat on a fun and, ultimately, inspiring journey. With some original illustrations by the author.

Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry

A revealing portrait of one of the most gifted and charismatic, yet least understood, Black artists and intellectuals of the twentieth century.

Lorraine Hansberry, who died at thirty-four, was by all accounts a force of nature. Although best-known for her work A Raisin in the Sun , her short life was full of extraordinary experiences and achievements, and she had an unflinching commitment to social justice, which brought her under FBI surveillance when she was barely in her twenties. While her close friends and contemporaries, like James Baldwin and Nina Simone, have been rightly celebrated, her story has been diminished and relegated to one work–until now. In 2018, Hansberry will get the recognition she deserves with the PBS American Masters documentary “Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart” and Imani Perry’s multi-dimensional, illuminating biography, Looking for Lorraine .

After the success of A Raisin in the Sun , Hansberry used her prominence in myriad ways: challenging President Kennedy and his brother to take bolder stances on Civil Rights, supporting African anti-colonial leaders, and confronting the romantic racism of the Beat poets and Village hipsters. Though she married a man, she identified as lesbian and, risking censure and the prospect of being outed, joined one of the nation’s first lesbian organizations. Hansberry associated with many activists, writers, and musicians, including Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, among others. Looking for Lorraine is a powerful insight into Hansberry’s extraordinary life–a life that was tragically cut far too short.

Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality

Transgender rights activist Sarah McBride shares her story and work in Tomorrow Will Be Different. She highlights key issues of trans equality including bathroom access, healthcare, identification and schools. She inspires and empowers readers to continue the fight for trans equality.

Would You Rather?: a Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out

In this collection of essays-as-memoir, Heaney recounts her realization in her late 20s that she was gay, and how she dealt with that. Heaney’s recollections and tone are light, humorous and candid, from online dating, the sharpness of hindsight, and loving Harry Styles.