Here’s some common sense for you. I want gun ownership to be as boring and annoying as car ownership. I want you to go to some Department of Weapons and sit for hours. I want folks who own guns to prove their skill, their mental and physical health, and to be licensed and reviewed over the years just as happens with our driver’s licenses. You earn the right to own and drive a vehicle; earn the right to own and use a gun.
Quibble with me over semantics if you want to; what is a “right” vs. what is a “privilege.” I’ll be busy with my friends trying to prevent more unnecessary deaths.
Gun ownership isn’t some inalienable right granted by God.
Remember, the Constitution was written by men coming out of a long and bloody war near the end of the 18th century. It was written for their time.
It also included the “right” to own a human being.
Things change. Folks evolve.
I want a voluntary federal buyback program for firearms, with hunting weapons and vintage/historic weapons exempt. I want the sale of weapons to be even more tightly controlled than the sale of Xanax and other controlled substances. I want advertising for firearms to be as regulated as DTC (direct to consumer) advertising for pharmaceuticals (“May cause shortness of breath, long-lasting boners, etc.”) We can do all of this. It’ll create jobs, believe it or not: regulators, educators, enforcers.
It will not end murder. It won’t end rape or robbery either. It WILL make it harder to commit those crimes. There will be a black market for guns as there is for any coveted item in a capitalist society. (And I’m not anti-capitalism, btw. I’m a big fan! Sorry, hippies. I do love you guys, by the way, you’re very nice people with good instincts.) Continuing education credits for gun owners should be required, just as they are with medical professionals.
When you have a greater ability to take a human life you have a greater responsibility to prove your fitness to wield the tools that may create that end.
And that’s how the fuck you well-regulate a goddamn American militia..
Compassion requires imagination. At times it takes some real effort to summon compassion for someone who does not look like you, make the same income as you, share your religious views or country of origin or style of dress or spiritual practices or sexuality or gender. To lack this compassion is to choose laziness.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to call yourself a real painter, or a real writer, or a real actress, or a real musician?
Have you ever described yourself as someone who does something amazing and magical and wonderful and life-affirming and then added “on the side”?
Well, you might not like what I have to say.
Because I have come here today to deliver the unfortunate truth that you are lying to yourself.
You are not going to become a real artist one day.
You are a real artist right now.
You are a real artist when you sit in traffic, when you wait for the dentist, when you clean up the toys in your kid’s bedroom.
I have known I was a real writer since I was a little kid in Flemington, New Jersey.
How did I know I was a writer?
I got lucky.
A grown-up told me.
When you are a little kid and an adult tells you that you are something, you are wont to believe it. Remember this the next time a kid tells you she is a ballerina, or a math genius, or a comet streaking through an inky black night sky.
For years, I wrote only in my journals. I wrote diary entries, and sometimes stories about myself or other people I knew or celebrities or imaginary creatures. When I stayed home sick from school, I took pieces of yellow stationery with the Mack Trucks logo (this was where my grandma worked) and I wrote and drew comic strips about magical people.
In the third grade I wrote a short story called “Jared’s Christmas” that won an award from the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English. There was a ceremony and I was very, very nervous, because even then I had panic disorder, but I accepted my award and got my certificate and my mother and father clapped really loud and it felt really good to know I was a real writer.
I was a real writer then, and I am a real writer now, as I (anxiously and joyfully and cautiously and fretfully and gratefully and I need a Xanax) celebrate the launch of my second book, “Great.”
These days, I am allegedly a grown-up. While I don’t know you personally, I know that you are a real artist if you can answer “yes” to any or all of these questions:
Do you make art?
Do you make art because something inside you tells you that you must make art?
Do you make art because it’s the only way you can feel like yourself sometimes?
Do you make art because it brings you joy, and also pain, but the good kind of pain, the kind you need in order to remember that you are a real person with worth and value and power and all of the feelings (yes, even the shitty ones)?
Do you make art because it’s fun?
Would you make art regardless of whether anybody paid you to make art?
Do you stay up at night after the kids have gone to sleep, when you really ought to be in bed yourself, or at least doing laundry, just because it gives you a few precious minutes to make art?
Do you sit at your computer in your office and make plans to use the money from your office-and-computer job to buy supplies to make art?
Do you make art that some people love?
Do you make art that some people hate?
Do you make art that some people ignore?
Then congratzel tov, my friend. You are a real artist.
When I was 23, I decided to become a high school teacher in order to support myself as a writer. And so I taught high school in the Southwest and no one published anything I wrote, though I tried to convince them it was a good idea.
I was a real writer then.
I was also a real writer when I was a paralegal working at a law firm in Chelsea specializing in immigration for fashion models. I was a real writer when I worked at a publishing company in the South Bronx, in a neighborhood so violent we were required to sign out of work no later than 4 p.m. so that we could reach the subway before nightfall (there had been an assault and a murder a few years back, so the company was cautious). I was a real writer when I worked at a fancy pet boutique on the Upper East Side, where customers spent upwards of $300 on luxurious cat beds and eccentric women came into the shop pushing puppies in prams. I was a real writer when I worked at Planned Parenthood HQ. I was a real writer when I hosted a satellite radio talk show about sex and love and dating five nights a week from 8 to 11 East, 5 to 8 Pacific. I was a real writer when the show got cancelled and I collected unemployment. I was a real writer when I worked at a start-up and I was a real writer when I quit the start-up to write full-time.
I am a real writer now, and I will be a real writer until I die, whether or not I always do this as my full-time job. I have had day jobs in the past and I have no reason to believe I will not have day jobs in the future.
The biggest myth we are fed as artists is that we need to sustain ourselves solely on our art. This is ridiculous. Every artist has at some point in time had some other job. Some of them kept these jobs their entire lives. In the latter category: William Carlos Williams was a doctor in New Jersey; Henry Darger was a custodian in Chicago; Harvey Pekar was a VA Hospital clerk in Cleveland.
In more temporary capacities: Maya Angelou was a cable-car conductor; Sandra Cisneros was an administrative assistant; JK Rowling was a secretary; Jeremy Renner was a makeup artist (Please read that again: Jeremy Renner was a makeup artist).
Art does not require an MFA. Art does not require a BA. Art does not require a high school diploma. Art does not require any formal education at all.
Art does not need your full-time attention. Art does not demand that you starve in order to afford paint and canvas and brushes.
There is more nobility in hard work than in pure luck (though every artist can use a bit of that.) You’ll make better art after a day at the office than you will after a lifetime in an ivory tower.
Real artists have day jobs, and night jobs, and afternoon jobs. Real artists make things other than art, and then they make time to make art because art is screaming to get out from inside them. Screaming, or begging, or gently whispering.
Don’t ever let them tell you you’re not a success. Don’t ever let them tell you you’re not good enough. Don’t ever let them tell you you’re not the real deal.
More importantly: don’t ever tell yourself any of these things.
Believe me when I tell you that no matter how much time you spend at the office, it’s just a side gig.
You are an artist, full-time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Great question. It’s a long answer, and I hope you’ll bear with me. I want to give it the attention it truly deserves. Because my answer isn’t just about me. I really love you for inquiring. And I’ve illustrated it with photographs because not everyone who reads this will be an avid fan of mine like you, and thus won’t have a reference point for how fat I am. I took these photos five days ago so you can be assured they are current. Just me goofing around in between taking my next book jacket photo, but some of the outtakes seem pretty relevant to my response.
First things first, thank you for not threatening to rape me! I get rape threats because I’m a woman on the Internet. Rape is on trend for women in comedy in 2016 and always! I respect that you bucked the trend to fall back on a comment about my weight. This is a more traditional approach and one with which I and my peers are intimately familiar. I like that you went for the classic because while I love Crystal Pepsi, there’s nothing like the original.
In 2011, after being reasonably mentally healthy for nearly a decade, I began to feel deeply depressed again. I imagine part of this was due to the stress of the fact that the man I was dating at the time, a reservist who I loved very much in my inadequate but heartfelt little way, was deployed to Afghanistan. I was worried about him and I was worried about my ability to be an Army girlfriend, something I’d never thought would happen. I wasn’t prepared for it and I certainly didn’t comport myself with the dignity and care that he deserved. On the other hand, how can you be prepared for that? You date a Jewish Democrat with an MFA and you don’t expect this sort of thing to happen, but I ended up with some guy with notions about country and duty and the idea that people who live in freedom shouldn’t be cavalier. Annoying, I know. I didn’t get it at the time. I do now.
Anyway, he left in July 2011 and I got really sad. Like really sad. It didn’t work out and it was my fault. That was not a good feeling. In my defense, most women would not be up for the challenge of maintaining a healthy sexual relationship via pure imagination.
And have you ever tried to Skype with someone as a bomb siren goes off? Imagine this happens a lot of times. It is very much not fun for the person Over There but it is also not fun for you, the person who is scared all the time and sad Back Home. Also, I had no self-esteem to speak of and was preeeeeetty sure that I didn’t deserve to be with someone so great, anyway. Dating someone who loved me AND wanted to fuck me AND had a nice career? WHAT? Did not compute. You see, Man Who Wrote To Me, sometimes we seek not what is good for us but what is familiar to us. And this kind of love was unfamiliar to me. Therefore I had to destroy it. (Yes, I’m finally in a 12-step program and therapy to explore these and other issues. I know you want it to be Overeaters Anonymous but instead I’m in AlAnon. I’m sorry.)
Now at the same time I was writing my first book, a memoir about being suicidal and finding healing through therapy and better life choices and, oddly enough, stand-up comedy. I was sorting through the kind of dark stuff you discuss when you’re a person who grew up sad and scared a lot. So I was sad sad sad and scared scared scared.
After the breakup that was my fault, I found a psychiatrist because I needed help. On my psychiatrist’s advice I began to take a drug called Abilify to boost the Prozac I’d been on for years. Unfortunately, that causes weight gain and a higher incidence of Type II diabetes. I know, I should’ve stayed off it and just opened a vein and sat in my bathtub when I was miserable, leaving behind a pretty corpse (not skinny but, you know, ACCEPTABLE) but I wanted to live. I had to finish the book, for one thing. So I started taking Abilify to help me not die.
I’m not much for drinking my problems away, so instead I commenced hooking up with a series of assholes, including one who told me that I took a lot of pictures of myself because I had deep-seated issues from my childhood and also was empty inside (he lived in a basement). Oh, and then I found one who hit me! In the face! Don’t worry, he was drunk and didn’t remember it. The next day he said, “Well, that doesn’t sound real. I guess I’m sorry if that happened.”
I hung around with that guy for awhile, because I knew I deserved whatever I got and I felt lucky that someone wanted to spend time with a girl like me. (Please don’t tell him I said “dating” — he never wanted me to say that. I know he was having sex with other girls so I totally respect that!) He did say once that I’d be perfect-looking if I were the same weight but about four inches taller. I thought that was funny, then. And I hadn’t even gained that much weight at that point! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! What a card.
I ran away across the country from the jerky boys (not The Jerky Boys, silly!) and my problems (oops! They came with me!) and a city I didn’t love anymore and also because I had projects in development in Los Angeles and a Lyft ride is way cheaper than a Virgin America flight. I gained weight, as you well know. I still looked great, thanks to my symmetrical face and extreme beauty. People still wanted to fuck me. Isn’t that weird? I didn’t date any of these folks. I knew I didn’t deserve their approval. I did know about their attraction because they conveyed it to me in various ways, including but not limited to unsolicited dick pics, wheeee! I tried to stick to people who didn’t want me but it’s hard when you are this fun, what can I say?!? LOLOL!!!!!!!LMFAO!!!!1111!!!!
Now here’s the shocker: in addition to my family and real friends still loving me, I kept getting work! Comedy, acting, and publishing 5 books from February 2012 to July 2016! It’s almost like I still had worth and value beyond the number on the scale but barf, we all know that’s not true, right?
Let me tell you about some of the things that I did between when I started gaining weight (2011) and now (2016).
I published that first book, “Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom.” I adapted it as a TV pilot. Diablo Cody is the executive producer. Have you heard of her? She’s very talented. She won an Oscar for writing a movie about a GIRL. Isn’t that crazy? She’s written lots of other stuff, too, but honestly? It’s usually about girls? And I don’t get why people like it. But I guess there’s a market for stuff about strong women who don’t apologize for who they are LOLOLOLOL whatever.
Anyway, she wanted to work with me and never brought up the fact that I wasn’t skinny. Can you imagine? It’s so strange. I talked to her yesterday and she still did not say anything about me being so fucking fat. Is she just being nice? She’s from the Midwest and those people are sweet. And Ben Stiller’s company, Red Hour, worked with me too. None of them told me I was fat. Ben Stiller didn’t tell me I was fat! Was he busy thinking about other things? Maybe! He’s very successful and talented and busy so maybe he just forgot. Fun fact: he likes “Jesus Christ Superstar” a lot. Jesus is very skinny in it. Ted Neely is great! And I know Ben Vereen originated the role but Carl Anderson is my favorite Judas, forever and ever.
As an aside, did you, Man On The Internet, know that in the ladies’ bathroom at Red Hour in LA there is a decoupaged toilet seat covered in Star Trek comic book pages? My fat ass sat upon it a few times! I just peed, out of respect. Shitting is for home, and for the Internet. And, as you know, you can shit in someone’s mouth! Have you dreamed of this? Something tells me you HAVE.
Anyway, during The Fattening, nobody who hired me or who wanted to hire me ever said that I was too fat. Do you think they were just being polite? I should ask. I will go through my union or one of my agents. I have several. I also have a manager. I should ask her. I could ask my lawyer, my CPA, my personal wealth manager, or the very handsome man who cleans my home in Los Angeles. He’s really nice even though he probably looks in my fridge and goes, “Oh my God, this kale is fattening!”
I should probably ask my estate planner. I will do that. He’s used to the weighty issues (ahahahhahahahah! Get it?!?!?!? No but do you get it?!?!?!? This is a pun about weight!)
Now in 2014 I wrote this book called “Great” (teen lesbo Gatsby with a twist!) and I’m pitching that as a series this week. The production company I’m working with hasn’t said anything about my weight but I will check before we go into the next network pitch just to make sure I’m not too fat to pitch. Speaking of that network, which I watch all the time — do you watch “Game of Thrones”? You’d love it! So many women get raped and die, all the time. Don’t watch “Veep.” A lady is in charge and it will confuse you.
Here’s the outfit I wore today when we pitched a network. I just want you to have a visual reference so you can imagine the horror the execs must have felt when this living nightmare rolled in their door. I took this photo to show my sister-in-law that I wore the sparkly gold shoes she picked out for me as a fat monster bridesmaid in her wedding. Everyone at the wedding thought I was a fat golem built of clay to save the Jews of Prague. “But no!” I said. “I am a human girl! Look at my sparkly shoes!” “Go save the Jews, Fat Golem,” they said. Later we all did the Twist.
In 2015 I published my third book, a novel for adults called “DC Trip”, and then I got hired to adapt it as a feature film. I’m working with Adaptive Studios and Gunpowder and Sky and with Bona Fide Productions. You should Google them! Have you seen Nebraska? How about Little Miss Sunshine? How about Little Children? I know, me neither. I don’t have time to watch movies because I’m so busy being too big in my body. But they made those movies and a bunch more. I don’t know why they let me in the door to pitch them. How did I even fit?! But I did. The doors in Culver City must be extra wide LOLOLOL! Oh, we do have fun.
Anyway, I just handed in the screenplay and it was not stained with butter, but that’s because I sent in a pdf and a Final Draft file. I’m sure if it had been a paper copy it probably would’ve been drenched in fat. I worked really hard on it. I tried to do my best, typing with my Vienna sausage fingers, which I am constantly tempted to eat.
Oh! Now during this time I began to think about weight. Not mine! I saw how women were criticized on the Internet and elsewhere for gaining weight. This intrigued me. I didn’t feel fat or unlovable. Should I? Hmm. I considered this and decided instead to make fantastic art instead, because I’m amazing at it.
In 2015 I wrote a short film about what it would be like to be judged for being so big. It is called The Focus Group. It’s really good and we got lots of critical praise for it. We were even in the New York Magazine Approval Matrix!!!! In the good quadrant!!! Would you like to see it? I’m in it! My friend Heather Fink directed it, and 50% of our kickass team from pre-production to post-production was ladies! Here’s another wild stat that I only figured out after the fact when a film festival asked me to submit demographic info: 40% of that team was comprised of people of color. What? I know, it’s upsetting, don’t think about it.
You can see me at my highest weight ever! Grab popcorn and hold onto your seat because you might throw up at my body LOL!!!! Or you might jerk off to it, which lots of people do and I know this because they email me.
The jerking off wasn’t what I was aiming for. I can only hope THEY were aiming into a cup, am I right? Cumming is messy when you hate yourself! I know you know all about that, right? I’m preaching to the choir over here! LLOLOLOLOOOOLLLLOOOLLL.
My fourth book came out in 2016 around the same time as the short film. It’s called “Real Artists Have Day Jobs” and in it, I actually told the story about the guy who hit me. I told some other stories too. You should read it! It’s really funny and good. Here are some things people said about it, which I now realize they probably only said out of pity.
“Honest, funny and completely devoid of bullshit. You might not want to hear what’s in this book, but you probably need to.” — Patton Oswalt
“Sara’s book is an incredible tour de force. If I could repeatedly hit my head so I could give myself a touch of memory loss so that I would be able to read this again for the first time, I would.” — Megan Amram
“Sara captures the chaos, horror, and joy of a life pursuit of creativity.” — Jim Gaffigan
“Sara Benincasa is a great wit, a great woman, and a great writer.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
“Inspiring self-help guidance on just about everything: sex, love, self-esteem, even flossing…It’s hard to imagine an actual self-help book could be more inspirational…Benincasa’s wisdom and humor will reverberate for days to come.” — Library Journal
“Hilarious…refreshingly frank…Benincasa provides solid tips for relationships, health, wellness, and employment…Raunchy and unabashedly unapologetic, this is useful, take-no-prisoners humor.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Sara Benincasa is brilliant on Twitter, in her comedy and on the printed page, and her latest, Real Artists Have Day Jobs, won’t fail to make you laugh. It might make you tear up a little bit too… she’s smart, heartfelt, relatable and just plain funny.” — New York Daily News
Now as for my fifth book, that’s a funny little joke book called Tim Kaine is Your Nice Dad. It became an instant Amazon bestseller in the political humor category when I published it after I spent four hours writing it.
And I’m working on a sixth book! It comes out next year.
During this whole fatty fatsy fatterino time people kept hitting on me, wanting to fuck me in my fat (but very tight!) pussy and, obviously, my asshole, which for me is a no-fly zone but I respect its power. People kept on asking to be my friend, hiring me to do stuff, inviting me places, asking me to work on stuff with them, hugging me and looking after me when I was sad and checking me on my bullshit when I did something stupid. They’d tell me they loved me no matter what. They meant it, too. And I share your astonishment at this. I really do.
Maybe they were all kidding. Maybe it was like in “She’s All That” when Rachael Leigh Cook goes, “Am I a bet? AM I A FUCKING BET?” And Freddie Prinze Jr. is all, “Noooooooo” and she’s like, “Back to glasses and a ponytail for me, buddy!” and then she blows a foghorn or something in Paul Walker’s ear. Which makes me sad because he’s gone, and also because Vin Diesel and The Rock are allegedly fighting on the set of Fast and Furious Eleventeen, have you heard about this? It keeps me up at night, my love handles undulating with sorrow. I keen. I wail. There’s a lot of ululation.
Now here is the part you’ll like. I got out of a series of deeply unhealthy relationships and I started taking care of myself, not because I wanted to fit into a tiny bikini, but because I don’t want a case of the ol’ Type Twosies which, as I mentioned before, runs in my family. Scary, right? So I cook for myself more now and I eat in moderation and I lost ten pounds last month!
I won’t tell you how much I weigh because I used to say the numbers in interviews and I found it made some girls sad because they were the same weight or a higher weight and they felt like they were comparing themselves to me. But here are other numbers: Five foot two and three quarters (my height in inches) 36G (my dick in inches and a randomly assigned letter). Did that give you a boner? I thought so! Just don’t think about how much I still weigh, or your boner will invert itself and go into your pelvis, meaning you will have gone and fucked yourself. I would hate for you to go fuck yourself, sir.
I don’t conflate weight with health. I’m just telling you that I in particular need to be cautious about carrying around extra weight because I’ve seen what happens in my own family when we aren’t careful. My grandmother lost two legs to Type II Diabetes. It was devastating. Then there are issues with heart disease and all kinds of unsavory stuff I’d like to avoid as best I can for as long as I can. But you’ve got to lose weight the right way. Liposuction is really unhealthy and can be dangerous for your body. So I’ve chosen the slower route of lifestyle change. But it’s steady and I’m doing very well. Lots of kale! (Kale isn’t fattening, BTW. That was a joke I made earlier. LOL I’m soooo silly!)
So there you go. That’s the first part of my answer to your question about why I gained all that weight. The second part is shorter. I will put it in bold for ease of reading.
I gained all that weight because I was so busy working and growing as a person, a writer, an actor, a comedian, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a lover, an activist (hi Emily’s List and Humanity for Hillary and Los Angeles LGBT Center!), a thinker, and a cook (ironic, right?!?) that I didn’t have time to pursue what I really, really want to do: spend my precious spare moments making anonymous comments on the blogs of successful, beautiful, hardworking women in a failed attempt to undermine them in order to give me some sense of power as I marinate in my own inadequacy, stuck in the knowledge that no one will ever pay me to write my poorly-crafted thoughts down on paper, to be translated into book or film or television form, and that beyond money (which of course doesn’t lend my thoughts any inherent value) or any degree of fame (which is pointless and wholly unnecessary to a happy and fulfilling existence) no one will ever really want to hear what I have to say at all, because I am essentially worthless and of no value to the world at large. That’s what I really want to do.
Got any tips?
And lest you think I took a ton of time out of my day to write this response: I took 10 minutes. I’m really fast at writing. I’m also great at it. I will forget about this after I hit “publish.” But will you forget about it? Can you? I don’t know. Now picture me whispering in your ear very, very softly: I don’t actually care.
And in summary, that’s why I gained so much weight.
Thank you for asking!
[All the kitchen photos are by Iconic Pinups. Dress: Matrushka Construction by Laura Howe. Hair color: Alejandra Gaytan of Jonathan and George in Beverly Hills, CA. Haircut: Sabina Yannone. Nails: Paradise Nails in Silverlake, Los Angeles, CA. Tiny cleaver by my buddy Jared at Artifact Metalworks of Pittsburgh, PA (very glad I randomly had it in my purse that day). Shot on location in Glassell Park, Los Angeles, CA. I had no idea when I goofed around that these outtakes would be so relevant to a piece of “fan mail,” but the Lord works in very mysterious ways.]
Fuel the Fire by Krista and Becca Ritchie (dual POV where one of the main characters doesn’t believe in labels (one of the main issues of this book is how society needs to label him), but his sexuality would be the closest to pansexuality. He has had m/m relationships prior the relationship with the other main character (a woman). Note that this is the third book in the Calloway Sisters series (eight in the Addicted series). Fuel the Fire is the second book where this person’s POV is featured, Kiss the Sky is the first one. If you want to read Fuel the Fire, it is highly, highly recommended that you read at least Kiss the Sky and Hothouse Flower first, because they’re continuous novels and should be read in order.) *
The Heart of Aces by Sarah Sinnaeve (Eleven short stories about asexuals and the different types of relationships they have.)
*New Adult (or Adult) books which may not be suitable for younger readers. Bolded titles are yet to be released.
We hope you find some great books to read from these! Happy reading!
This is for the anon who had doubts about the hetero-ness of TRC! If you’re looking for an explicitly LGBT book, here you go!
These books are 100% super actually gay:
The Song of Achilles
big shocker here! It’s about Patroclus and Achilles and their love from childhood to Troy
The Captive Prince trilogy
This one is an adult series, not YA, but still great Prince Damianos is captured and sent as a pleasure slave to Prince Laurent in a neighboring kingdom. Damen can’t let Laurent know who he is or he’ll be killed, and Laurent needs to navigate the complicated court politics with his uncle (who is King Regent until Laurent is fit to take over the crown). It’s fantasy gay fun, what’s not to love??
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
This is a really great coming of age tale of two young Mexican American boys in the 1980s who are close friends and grow even closer as they grow up.
Beauty Queens (by Libba Bray)
Lord of the Flies only with beauty queens! There are all kinds of girls here: gay and straight and bi, cis and trans, different races and body types and skills, one of the girls is deaf. It’s so diverse! Basically, a plane crash lands on an island and the girls have to work together to survive!
Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda
Two gay email pen-pals are hopelessly in love but don’t know each others’ identity. Simon has to figure out who his mysterious love is while navigating high school as the only out gay boy.
The 5 Stages of Andrew Brawley
Andrew’s parents have died and now he lives in a hospital, not ready to face the outside world. He gets a job in the cafeteria, hangs out in the ER, and sleeps in an abandoned wing. He has friends in the children’s ward and he reads to another teen boy who he quickly starts falling for.
Great (by Sara Benincasa)
It’s the Great Gatsby but with lesbians. If you’re looking for a happy lesbian story, this is not it.
Ash (by Malinda Lo)
A retelling of Cinderella where Ash is actually bisexual, never falls for the prince, and has to choose between an elf prince and the mysterious huntress.
The Dark Wife
It’s the story of Hades and Persephone, only Hades is a woman and not as bad as you think.
Proxy series (by Alex London)
Based off of The Whipping Boy, Syd is a poor proxy who gets money by being the the whipping boy for a spoiled rich kid named Knox. This is set in a dystopian future and is a really wild ride. The poor people of this society are kept down by the proxy system, and Syd decides that something should be done about that.
Fanart (by Sarah Tregay)
This is about Jamie who’s in love with his best friend, but doesn’t want to ruin the friendship. The girls in his art class decide to draw fanart of him and Mason, which eventually helps Jamie tell Mason what he’s been so scared to say. (This one is a little iffy for me bc people are outed against their will, so beware of that)
Archangel Academy by Michael Griffo
This series is basically gay Twilight set in an English boarding school. There are water vampires and swim teams and Michael and Ronan are hopelessly in love. Very sappy!
Rafe is sick of being the only out gay kid in school so he transfers to a boarding school in another state. There, he pretends to be straight so that he doesn’t have to deal with the stereotypes and attention that comes with being out. However, he learns that forcing himself to be someone he’s not just to fit in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There really isn’t much of a romance in this, it deals more with gay identity.
I also have resources for books with queer male protagonists if you want them. Here are three that I think are necessary for everyone to read because they’re amazing:
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz.
Note: Once again, this is the point where all of you lovelies start sending in suggestions for literature featuring queer women protagonists, especially queer women of color. I am so far beyond open to your suggestions, please please please send them in. Thank you.