18 Classics of LGBTQ Literature

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Dancer from the Dance cover (Image via Bantam)

13. Dancer from the Dance

Dancer from the Dance is another relatively early novel in this list. It was published in 1978, after the events of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, but before that AIDS panic that would plague the U.S. gay community starting in the 1980s. It is poised at a unique moment in gay history, somewhere between the beginnings of social and cultural acceptance and the fearfulness and doubt of plague.

The novel was one of the first to depict the gay nightlife on Fire Island, a summer community on Long Island. There, many urban men felt free to experiment with their sexuality, along with drug use and extended partying.

Dancer from the Dance follows two characters: Anthony Malone and Andrew Sutherland. Malone is a young man from the midwest who has left behind a conventional life in order to explore his sexuality in 1970s New York. Sutherland, who is variously described as a drug addict, drag queen, and socialite, is already an integral part of the scene. A large portion of the novel centers on Sutherland’s efforts to “marry” the preternaturally beautiful Malone to a millionaire.

The book is known for its lyrical, rich prose by author Andrew Holleran. Its title comes from the last line of “Among the School Children”, a poem by William Butler Yeats: “O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,/ Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?/ O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,/ How can we know the dancer from the dance?”