LGBT characters appear seldom in the books I've been reading. (In fact, no transgender character shows up at all.) When they do, they usually play minor roles. Other novels reflect what might be called a “gay sensibility,” with some characters not exactly in the closet but not publicly “out” either. Men in For the Pleasure of His Company and Hooper Dooper! provide examples. In contrast, the books on the list below do not just hint at sexual orientation. Leading characters are sometimes worried about it and sometimes not, but the issue is never far from their minds. The list is chronological.
1. The Western Shore by Clarkson Crane. An English professor, one of many characters in this panorama of Berkeley after World War I, seeks fulfilling gay relationships that are also discreet.
2. We Too Are Drifting by Gale Wilhelm. A thirty-year-old engraver finds herself uninspired by her girlfriend, the San Francisco art scene and life in general.
3. Shadows Flying by John Evans. [a.k.a. Love in the Shadows] A young man in San Francisco has an unrequited crush on his roommate, who turns out to have sexual issues of his own.
4. Trio by Dorothy Baker. The relationship between a Berkeley professor and her graduate assistant is threatened when an attractive young man comes to work briefly in their apartment.
5. Strange Passions by Florence Stonebraker [a.k.a. Sinful Desires and Who Knows Love]. A young woman, staying in Laguna Beach for the summer, strikes up a friendship with an uncloseted lesbian.
The first four books have substantial library holdings and shouldn’t be difficult to find. They also have at least a dozen copies for sale at internet booksellers (but be sure to search for Shadows Flying under its paperback title, Love in the Shadows). Strange Passions, despite its three editions, is more of a problem. Only a few copies are available on line, and library copies are unlikely to circulate.