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The 50 Greatest Self-Help Books

Best Self Help Books
























Gay and Lesbian Issues
Self Help Books

Alfred Kinsey shocked the nation with his assertion in The Kinsey Report (1948) that ten per cent of the male population of the United States was homosexual. There is continuing debate over the exactness of that estimate, but since that time millions of gay men and women have begun to live their lives with an openness unimaginable at any previous time in the history of this country. Continue reading Gay and Lesbian Issues article»

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The self help books and DVDs listed below address the complex issues around defining an identity as a gay man or woman; dealing with the process of coming out and claiming a new identity; and the effects on families – parents, siblings, spouses, children – of this new identity. Medical and health concerns are also addressed in many of the volumes.

See also: Intimate Relationships: Relationship Advice; Men's Sexual Health; Women's Sexual Health; Sexuality and Sex Education; Self Esteem and Self Confidence

Best Self Help Books on Gay and Lesbian Issues

Lesbian Couples by Merilee Clunis and Dorsey GreenTen Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort"These are the Gay and Lesbian Issues self help books I recommend most frequently."
David Yarian, Ph.D.






Recommended Self Help Books on Gay and Lesbian Issues

After Stonewall (DVD) by John Scagliotti, directorAfter Stonewall (DVD)
John Scagliotti, director

The companion film to Before Stonewall, this documentary explores gay history in the US from the 1970's through the 1990's. Perhaps the most significan contribution of the film is its mapping of a gay presence within popular media. DVD Release Date: 2005; Studio: First Run Features


Anal Pleasure and Health by Jack MorinAnal Pleasure and Health: A Guide for Men and Women
Jack Morin

An Amazon reader-reviewer writes: “This book is indispensable reading for anybody thinking of exploring anal eroticism in any or all of its forms . . . Morin spends as much time focusing on using fingers, tongues and toys as he does on intercourse and he emphasizes becoming comfortable with your body and finding what (if any) forms of anal stimulation you enjoy.” 2010, Down There Press; 4th Revised edition 


Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul MonetteBecoming a Man: Half a Life Story
Paul Monette

Winner of the National Book Award, this eloquent memoir focuses on Monette’s early family life and education. Two major themes are traced through this story: the pain and anguish of being in the closet and his fear of and fury at AIDS and homophobia. This poetic, political, angry, life-embracing book is an intense record of struggle and salvation. 1993, HarperSanFrancisco


Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance by Richard IsayBecoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance
Richard Isay

This self help book deals with challenges to self-acceptance under many life conditions: adolescence, married with children, HIV infected or living with AIDS, older age and career transitions. A helpful book for those struggling with self-acceptance. 2009, Vintage 


The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community: Before Stonewall (DVD)Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community (DVD)
John Scagliotti, Greta Schiller, directors

This documentary covers the evolution of gay culture in the US from the early 1920's to the Stonewall riot of 1969. Including archival footage and photography, the film features the gay underground of the '20s and '30s, the rise of gay service in the military and workforce during WWII, the persecution of gays by Senator McCarthy, and the growth of the first grassroots political organizations for gay men and lesbians in the '50s. DVD Release Date: May 18, 2004; Studio: First Run Features


The Best Little Boy in the World by John Reid (Andrew Tobias)The Best Little Boy in the World
John Reid (Andrew Tobias)

Tobias was raised in an upper-middle class family and was an all-American boy-next-door type who was good at school, good at sports, respectful of elders, always fulfilling expectations. He relates his anguished attempts to masquerade as normal. This is a classic self help account of growing up gay in America, first published in 1973 under the pseudonym John Reid and updated with a new introduction by Tobias, a well-known author of financial self help books. 1993, Ballantine Books


The Celluloid Closet (DVD)The Celluloid Closet (DVD)
Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, directors

Lilly Tomlin narrates this superb documentary about Hollywood's treatment of homosexual characters in the 20th century. There are clips from more than 100 mainstream features making a persuasive case for patterns of sexual mythology in Hollywood. The film includes great interviews with screen writers, film makers, actors, and others. DVD Release Date: May 29, 2001; Studio: Sony Pictures


Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality by John BoswellChristianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century
John Boswell

This highly acclaimed study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the Christian west challenges received opinion and our own preconceptions about the Church’s past relationship to its gay members among whom were priests, bishops and canonized saints. A ground-breaking work. 1981, University of Chicago Press


Coming Out of Shame: Transforming Gay and Lesbian lives by Gershen Kaufman and Lev RaphaelComing Out of Shame: Transforming Gay and Lesbian Lives
Gershen Kaufman and Lev Raphael

The authors examine how internalized shame and fear impact self-esteem, identity and intimacy in the life experiences of lesbians and gay men. They propose a “re-parenting” imagery approach to diminish shame in individuals in relationships. 1997, Main Street Books


For Lesbian Parents by Suzanne Johnson, Elizabeth O'ConnorFor Lesbian Parents: Your guide to Helping Your Family Grow Up Happy, Healthy, and Proud
Suzanne M. Johnson, Elizabeth O'Connor

The authors, both developmental psychologists, are co-parenting two daughters. Their self help book offers help on explaining lesbianism to children and explores what lesbian parents can do to help children explain their family situation to their peers. The book also addresses the complexity of dealing with the attitudes of the outside world, including relatives, school, and doctors or mental health specialists. 2001, The Guilford Press


The Invention of Heterosexuality by Jonathan katzThe Invention of Heterosexuality
Jonathan Katz

Katz argues that heterosexuality is a social construct rather than a natural and unambiguous given. He contends that heterosexuality as the universal normative ideal was invented by men like Freud and Krafft-Ebing. Prior to the late nineteenth century the social universe was not polarized into “hetero” and “homo.” This provocative work challenges rigid notions of gender identity. 2007, University Of Chicago Press


Is It a Choice? Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay & Lesbian People by Eric MarcusIs It a Choice? Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay & Lesbian People
Eric Marcus

If you find that your child, student or friend is lesbian, bisexual or gay, this is the first self help book you should turn to for those basic questions you might have. It will help you get over that first speed bump and you will have a much clearer idea about what homosexuality really is--a normal expression of a human being's sexuality. It is never too late to learn to leave your prejudices behind. This book is a special life-saver for students who are discovering their sexual identities. 2005, HarperOne


Lesbian Couples by Merilee Clunis and Dorsey GreenLesbian Couples: A Guide to Creating Healthy Relationships
Merilee Clunis and Dorsey Green

For lesbians (as for all couples) achieving and sustaining intimacy remains a challenge. From mind-reading and making assumptions to conflict and disillusionment, this self help book examines the strengths and weakness, flagging potential problem areas and offering real-life examples and solutions to the challenges lesbian couples experience. 2005, Seal Press


The Lesbian Couples Guide by Judith mcDanielThe Lesbian Couples Guide
Judith McDaniel

A complete self help guide to lesbian relationships that explores both the practical and emotional dimensions of being a lesbian couple in today’s society. Nine representative couples are followed with attention to becoming couples, living together, sexuality, parenting and power issues. 1995, Perennial Currents


Lesbian Love Companion by Marny HallLesbian Love Companion: How to Survive Everything from Heartthrob to Heartbreak
Marny Hall

Solid advice on relationships, self awareness and self esteem. Many readers find liberating Hall’s explanation that sequential relationships are common, and do not represent a failure at life and love. An encouraging and affirming book. 1998, HarperSanFrancisco


Living Two Lives by Joanne FleisherLiving Two Lives: Married to a Man and In Love with a Woman
Joanne Fleisher

In 1979, author Fleisher was married, a mother of two - and fell in love with a female friend. Everything changed. Now a licensed clinical social worker, she brings her wealth of insight to this guide to help married wormen navigate the stages of coming out: initial feelings of same sex attraction, telling husbands and children, managing a roller coaster of emotions, developing a support system, dating, and, finally, moving into a new chapter of life. 2005, Alyson Books


Mom, Dad, I'm Gay by Ritch Savin-WilliamsMom, Dad, I'm Gay: How Families Negotiate Coming Out
Ritch Savin-Williams

As mainstream America becomes more aware of the non-heterosexual community, gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual teenagers are revealing their sexual identities to their parents at a younger age than ever before. Drawing from over one hundred and fifty original interviews with teens, Dr. Savin-Williams separates fact from fiction in this survey of coming-out experiences. He offers advice on how parents can help to negotiate the coming-out process and learn to support their child’s emerging sexual identity. 2001, American Psychological Association


My Own Country: A Doctor's Story by Abraham VergheseMy Own Country: A Doctor's Story
Abraham Verghese

Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, the town of Johnson City saw its first AIDS patient in August, 1985. Working in Johnson City was Abraham Verghese, a young Indian doctor specializing in infectious diseases who became, by necessity, the local AIDS expert. He writes of his experience with conservative mountain families who welcomed home their gay sons who had contracted the disease and had come home to die. The book, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle award, is an uplifting portrait of the challenges and triumphs of love and families. 1995, Vintage


The Other side of the Closet by Amity BuxtonThe Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families
Amity Buxton

In two million marriages, one spouse is gay, lesbian or bisexual. Having a spouse or parent disclose his or her same sex attraction can be a shattering experience fraught with pain, confusion, anger, and loss of self-esteem. Buxton offers constructive coping strategies that spouses and children have used to resolve problems of sexual damage, family breakdown, deception, and homophobia. 1994, Wiley


Out of the Past: the Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Rights in America (DVD)Out of the Past: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Rights in America (DVD)
Jeffrey Dupre, director

This solid documentary on the gay community is part history lesson, including profiles of obscure gay and lesbian historical figures, and part smart reporting, covering the story of a young lesbian's attempts to form a Gay-Straight-Alliance club in Salt Lake City. The film is a dialogue between past and present, and an emotionally textured treatise on alienation and marginalization. DVD Release Date: April 26, 2005; Studio: Allumination


Outing Yourself: How to Come Out as Lesbian or Gay by Michelangelo SignorileOuting Yourself: How to Come Out as Lesbian or Gay to your Family, Friends and Coworkers
Michelangelo Signorile

This fourteen-step program, complete with exercises, meditation notes and anger checks, and the accounts of the coming-out experiences of other lesbians and gay men shows how to successfully handle this life changing process. “The stress of coming out will never be as hard on you as the stress of staying in was.” (from the book) 1996, Fireside


Out on Holy Ground: Meditations on Gay Men's Spirituality by donald BoisvertOut on Holy Ground: Meditations on Gay Men's Spirituality
Donald Boisvert

A pioneering look at gay men’s spirituality. 2000, Pilgrim Press

 



Overcoming Heterosexism and Homophobia by James Sears and Walter WilliamsOvercoming Heterosexism and Homophobia
James Sears and Walter Williams

This self help book provides strategies that can be adopted by educators, counselors, community activists and leaders and those working in the lesbian and gay community. Role-playing exercises, suggestions for beginning a dialogue, and methods of coming out effectively to family members and co-workers are included. 1997, Columbia University Press


Queer Blues: The Lesbian and Gay Guide to Overcoming Depression by Kimeron HardinQueer Blues: The Lesbian and Gay Guide to Overcoming Depression
Kimeron N. Hardin

Queer Blues is a groundbreaking self help book for any gay or lesbian person who struggles with depression. This book really is gay specific -- the authors are a gay man and a lesbian who work as psychotherapists in San Francisco. They address the impact of internal as well as external homophobia, paying particular attention to negative and homophobic self-talk. The book includes many case studies which cover a variety of life stages and circumstances, and there is frank discussion of the different kinds of medications used in treating depression. 2001, New Harbinger


Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae BrownRubyfruit Jungle
Rita Mae Brown

Bawdy and moving, Rubyfruit Jungle is about growing up lesbian in America and living happily ever after. 1983, Bantam

 



Sex and Spirit: Exploring Gay Men's Spirituality by Robert BarzanSex and Spirit: Exploring Gay Men's Spirituality
Robert Barzan

This self help book is an exciting and provocative collection of essays highlighting a variety of approaches to spirituality. Essays address a twelfth century monastic community based on man-to-man love; the shamanic foundation of the Wizard of Oz; Zen as a tradition compatibile with gay male spirituality; and healthy sexuality and how it brings healing to the whole person. 1985, White Crane Press


Southern Comfort (DVD)Southern Comfort (DVD)
Kate Davis, director

This award-winning film was a breakout hit and winner at nearly 20 major film festivals including the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. This remarkable documentary chronicles the last year of Robert Eads' life, a female-to-male transsexual dying of cancer. The film's title comes from an annual gathering that Robert describes as "the cotillion of the trans community, the coming-out party" - an event part convention, part high school prom. DVD Release Date: March 25, 2003; Studio: New Video Group


10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Find Real Love by Joe Kort10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Find Real Love
Joe Kort

This book tells you not only what to look for in Mr. Right, but how to become Mr. Right. It is not just about finding him, it is what you do after you find him. This new self help book is a practical guide to set gay men on the path to true love today. 2012, Magnus Books



Ten Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe KortTen Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives
Joe Kort

Openly gay therapist, Joe Kort, provides ten powerful and positive steps gay men can take to overcome self-defeating behavior patterns. Some of the steps include Take Charge of Your Life; Affirm Yourself by Coming Out; Graduate from Delayed Adolescence; and Maintain Rewarding Relationships. This self help book offers time-tested practical decisions gay men can make in their search for emotional, sexual and personal fulfillment.  2003, Alyson Publications


The Times of Harvey Milk (DVD)The Times of Harvey Milk (DVD)
Rob Epstein, director

This emotionally compelling documentary charts the political rise and brutal slaying of the first openly gay city official in the Uniited State, Harvey Milk. The Times of Harvey Milk captures not only Milk himself, but also the political and social landscape in which these events took place. DVD Release Date: June 8, 2004; Studio: New Yorker Video


The Whole Lesbian Sex Book by Felice NewmanThe Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide for All of Us
Felice Newman s

Newman,  the publisher at Cleis Press since 1980, covers oral, manual, anal, and insertive-vaginal techniques with loving care. She includes a whole chapter on breast play, addresses safety repeatedly and thoroughly, and discusses transgender and bisexual orientations, SM, group sex, masturbation, and sex toys--all while acknowledging that some women prefer monogamy, some polygamy. Even though this self help book is aimed at lesbians, it's extremely suitable for heterosexual women (to enhance their own eroticism) and men (to tell them what turns women on). 2004, Cleis Press


Gay and Lesbian Issues Self Help Resources