Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, writer... the world's greatest genius did it all without a university education, denied to him as a lowerclass bastard. At twenty-four he was twice arrested for sodomy, in April and June, after which he became increasingly secretive about his affairs with men, including a young falconer named Bernardo di Simone, according to Michael White. His notebooks cover 5,000 pages and foretell inventions or discoveries to come centuries later: bicycles, calculators, military tanks, helicopters, hang gliders, the double hull, solar power, and plate tectonics. Other drawings are erotica, including an erect angel (qui) based on his tempestuous boyfriend, a hellcat named Salai, to whom he bequeathed the Mona Lisa.
Henry James, four centuries later and 400 times more repressed, wrote some of the world's finest fiction. His gayest works are the novel The Bostonians (excluded from his collected works due to its queerness) and the long short story The Pupil. Undiminished even in the age of txtng, he is the subject of Colm Toibin's IMPAC Dublin winner The Master and the reigning spirit of Alan Hollinghurst's Booker winner The Line of Beauty. Exactly one year ago, the Pulitzer judges named as a finalist Michael Gorra's superb Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece [Kindle], which was also a NBCC nominee and a best book of the year at The New Yorker, WSJ, the Guardian, and The Millions.
You deserve it. Get George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes (my favorite, after the jump) or see him in front of the camera in When We Were Three: Travel Albums of George Platt Lynes, Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescot 1925-1935. He is the basis for the photographer in Donald Windham's novel Tanaquil.
Always a favorite recommender on Thebes queer lit poll, Peter Gadol studied with Seamus Heaney and Helen Vendler at Harvard from which he graduated magna cum laude. Four years later Crown published his first novel, Coyote (1990), followed by The Mystery Roast (1993), Closer to the Sun (1996), a PEN West prize nominee The Long Rain [Kindle] (1997), Light at Dusk (2000), and the Lammy-nominated Silver Lake [Kindle] about two gay architects and their dangerous overnight guest. Fifty today, Peter is working on American Modern, a novel about 20th century design.
Rick Whitaker's audacious new fiction An Honest Ghost [Kindle] is a Publishing Triangle nominee, a Lammy finalist, an ALA Over the Rainbow book, and a TLS book of the year. Previously he wrote a memoir about his experiences as a hustler, Assuming the Position, and a book about reading gay American writing, The First Time I Met Frank O'Hara. I wish he would write about his experiences as an adoptive single dad -- not easy, given his published history as a sex worker -- though of course I respect any privacy decisions in not writing about family.