The crowd-sourced LGBTQI Book Saved My Life! campaign, released in conjunction with this year's Lambda Literary Awards, asked people to consider books that made them feel reflected, helped them “own up to be[ing] a queer artist” or through difficult emotions, expanded their mind regarding sex and gender, and “meant so much ... that it eased the pain of living and working outside the ‘mainsteam,’ in a world where not only our books but our lives are shelved separately from everyone else’s.”
In response, participants filmed themselves and posted on social media about books ranging from self-help, to literary fiction, to poetry, to romance. Many are authors themselves, and recount how words they’ve written have helped others come out or escape harm.
“There were characters in a book who were living a life I wanted to live,” Alison Moon, author of lesbian werewolf series Tales of the Pack, recalls. “It saved my life.” A reader of queer Mexican fiction recounts how “After this world … was opened up for me, I searched everywhere” until she found a community. Others echo her wide-eyed sense of seeing a new universe open before them within the pages of a book, and of feeling truly seen or understood for the first time in their lives.
Still others recount hiding in books to comfort themselves in oppressive situations. Books “showed me the closet kills,” recounts one reader, while another recalls reading about gay life “in secret desperation” while still married. One man describes finding the strength to leave an abusive relationship after relating to accounts of abused lesbian women in Kerry Lobel’s Naming the Violence.
One author recalls how being saved by Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy inspired her to write a book that could save someone else’s life. The video, which pulses with emotional music and memories, offers such inspiration to all future writers of LGBT literature. Watch it below.