(A time capsule of queer opinion, from the late 1990s)

The Publishing Triangle complied a selection of the 100 best lesbian and gay novels in the late 1990s. Its purpose was to broaden the appreciation of lesbian and gay literature and to promote discussion among all readers gay and straight.

The Triangle’s 100 Best

The judges who compiled this list were the writers Dorothy Allison, David Bergman, Christopher Bram, Michael Bronski, Samuel Delany, Lillian Faderman, Anthony Heilbut, M.E. Kerr, Jenifer Levin, John Loughery, Jaime Manrique, Mariana Romo-Carmona, Sarah Schulman, and Barbara Smith.

1. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
2. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
3. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet
4. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
5. The Immoralist by Andre Gide
6. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
7. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
8. Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig
9. The Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
10. Zami by Audré Lorde
11. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
12. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
13. Billy Budd by Herman Melville
14. A Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White
15. Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran
16. Maurice by E. M. Forster
17. The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal
18. Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
19. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
20. Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima
21. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
22. City of Night by John Rechy
23. Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal
24. Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller
25. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
26. Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote
27. The Bostonians by Henry James
28. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
29. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
30. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
31. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
32. The Persian Boy by Mary Renault
33. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
34. The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst
35. Olivia by Dorothy Bussy
36. The Price of Salt (Carol) by Patricia Highsmith
37. Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw
38. Another Country by James Baldwin
39. Chéri by Colette
40. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
41. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
42. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
43. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
44. The Friendly Young Ladies (The Middle Mist) by Mary Renault
45. Young Törless by Robert Musil
46. Eustace Chisholm and the Works by James Purdy
47. The Story of Harold by Terry Andrews
48. The Gallery by John Horne Burns
49. Sister Gin by June Arnold
50. Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall by Neil Bartlett
51. Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram
52. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
53. The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
54. The Young and Evil by Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler
55. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
56. A Visitation of Spirits by Randall Kenan
57. Three Lives by Gertrude Stein
58. Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli by Ronald Firbank
59. Rat Bohemia by Sarah Schulman
60. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
61. The Counterfeiters by André Gide
62. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
63. Lover by Bertha Harris
64. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
65. La Bâtarde by Violette Leduc
66. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
67. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
68. The Satyricon by Petronius
69. The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
70. Special Friendships by Roger Peyrefitte
71. The Changelings by Jo Sinclair
72. Paradiso by José Lezama Lima
73. Sheeper by Irving Rosenthal
74. Les Guerilleres by Monique Wittig
75. The Child Manuela (Mädchen in Uniform) by Christa Winsloe
76. An Arrow’s Flight by Mark Merlis
77. The Gaudy Image by William Talsman
78. The Exquisite Corpse by Alfred Chester
79. Was by Geoff Ryman
80. Théresè and Isabelle by Violette Leduc
81. Gemini by Michel Tournier
82. The Beautiful Room Is Empty by Edmund White
83. The Children’s Crusade by Rebecca Brown
84. The Story of the Night by Colm Toibin
85. The Holy Terrors (Les Enfants Terribles) by Jean Cocteau
86. Hell Has No Limits by José Donoso
87. Riverfinger Women by Elana Nachman (Dykewomon)
88. The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer
89. Closer by Dennis Cooper
90. Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac
91. Miss Peabody’s Inheritance by Elizabeth Jolley
92. René’s Flesh by Virgilio Piñera
93. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
94. Wasteland by Jo Sinclair
95. Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing by May Sarton
96. Sea of Tranquillity by Paul Russell
97. Autobiography of a Family Photo by Jacqueline Woodson
98. In Thrall by Jane DeLynn
99. On Strike Against God by Joanna Russ
100. Sita by Kate Millett


Our Visitors’ 88 Best

As soon as the Publishing Triangle’s list of 100 best lesbian and gay novels was released in the late 1990s, it engendered a great amount of controversy and discussion over certain books that were included and others that were omitted. In response, the Triangle’s members and other visitors to its website were invited to assemble a similar list; that list wound up with 88 titles on it. It was set up to list additional books, with no overlap from the judges’ 100 best, but as it turns out Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited appears on both lists.

1. The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren
2. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
3. The Charioteer by Mary Renault
4. Like People in History by Felice Picano
5. Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden
6. A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham
7. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
8. The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt
9. Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim
10. The Object of My Affection by Stephen McCauley
11. Faggots by Lary Kramer
12. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
13. Other Women by Lisa Alther
14. Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel Delany
15. Six of One by Rita Mae Brown
16. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues by Tom Robbins
17. Martin and John by Dale Peck
18. Querelle by Jean Genet
19. The God in Flight by Laura Argiri
20. Totem Pole by Sanford Friedman
21. Falconer by John Cheever
22. Latin Moon in Manhattan by Jaime Manrique
23. Openly Bob by Bob Smith
24. The Lord Won’t Mind by Gordon Merrick
25. The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp
26. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
27. Quatrefoil by James Barr
28. The Better Angel by Richard Meeker
29. Known Homosexual by Joseph Hanson
30. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
31. Burning Houses by Andrew Harvey
32. The American Woman In The Chinese Hat by Carole Maso
33. Nightswimmer by Joseph Olshan
34. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
35. The Beauty of Men by Andrew Holleran
36. The Folded Leaf by William Maxwell
37. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
38. The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
39. The Sea of Light by Jenifer Levin
40. Bending at the Bow by Marion Douglas
41. Amnesty by Louise Blum
42. Hood by Emma Donoghue
43. Queer by William Burroughs
44. Funeral Rites by Jean Genet
45. The Thief’s Journal by Jean Genet
46. Forbidden Colors by Yukio Mishima
47. The Grandmothers by Glenway Wescott
48. Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson
49. Just Above My Head by James Baldwin
50. Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham
51. Equal Affections by David Leavitt
52. Tim and Pete by James Robert Baker
53. Dance of the Warriors by Kevin Esser
54. Streetboy Dreams by Kevin Esser
55. Livre blanc by Jean Cocteau
56. Confession of Felix Krull by Thomas Mann
57. Pryor Rendering by Gary Reed
58. Winter Birds by Jim Grimsley
59. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
60. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
61. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
62. Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing by May Sarton
63. Curious Wine by Katherine V. Forrest
64. In a Shallow Grave by James Purdy
65. The Unlit Lamp by Radclyffe Hall
66. Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King
67. The Wild Boys by William S. Burroughs
68. Paxton Court by Diane Salvatore
69. Quatrefoil by James Barr
70. The Twyborn Affair by Patrick White
71. Hemlock and After by Angus Wilson
72. Chamber Music by Doris Grumbach
73. Ernesto by Umberto Saba
74. Separate Rooms by Pier Vittorio Tondelli
75. Bertram Cope’s Year by H.B. Fuller
76. Bom-Criulo by Adolfo Caminha
77. Nights in the Underground by Marie Claire Blais
78. The High Cost of Living by Marge Piercy
79. Toilet by Tom Woolley
80. Red Azalea by Anchee Min
81. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
82. Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley
83. Kissing the Witch by Emma Donohue
84. Biography of Desire by Mary Dorcey
85. Mother of the Grass by Jovette Marchessault
86. Six Chapters of a Floating Life by Shen Fu
87. The Four Winds by Gerd Brantenberg
88. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh

A list of the 100 best queer novels compiled in the 2020s would obviously look very different, whether compiled by a panel of writers or a wider group of avid readers.