10 Famous Works of Literature With Queer Subtexts

Yesterday at Salon, Caleb Crain, author of the highly praised novel Necessary Errors, talked a bit about being a gay novelist and the effects non-heterosexual subject matter has on the chances for a novel’s publication. In response to a question about needing a “gay canon” of literature, Crain said, “The straight canon is very gay… I don’t read somebody because they’re a gay writer. I read them because they’re a good writer.” It’s true that it seems silly and reductive to insist on setting gay writers apart from their straight cohort (although doing so can help raise awareness that they do, in fact, exist), especially since there’s enough queer subtext in popular literature already. Just have a look at these ten obvious examples. 

harry potter

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Yes, we all know that J. K. Rowling waited conveniently until the publication of her most recent book to reveal, perhaps too enthusiastically, that Albus Dumbledore was gay. I never bought it, considering there was no textual evidence for it. But plenty of other queer conspiracy theorists have read into many other aspects of the books’ details. For example: Harry literally comes out of the closet in which he lives when he’s 11 and learns that he can make magic things happen.