How and where did you access it?
My father had recommended Lady Chatterley's Lover to me (I would be around 12/13 at the time).
How did it make you feel?
If I was looking at a book that resonated with me as a person in their early teens, it would be Lady Chatterley's Lover.
You may wonder why?!
Well, at that age hormones were running around like mad, so I was wanking a lot!!
When I read it, the sex scenes stood out. They were perfect wanking material. However, I was excited by the description of being fucked, not fucking and I quickly discovered fingers and candles. Somehow, I must have picked up on Lawrence's bisexuality and fantasy/knowledge of being penetrated deeply ..'the plunger going deeper and deeper' is what I remember. So, for me, the book was formative and helpful.
Of course, apart from there not being many gay books available, it was great cover, it being a book that described heterosexual sex. It sort of fooled me too, in a way.
If I were choosing a book from my early GLF days, it would be Giovanni's Room and other novels by James Baldwin. It really was a lifesaver being introduced to his novels and positive portrayals. They are so beautifully-written too, so passionate.
I was lucky enough to meet James Baldwin in the mid-1980's. One of the students I taught at Charlton Boys School, Fred D'Aguiar, won the Malcolm X Award for his first volume of poetry: Mama Dot. We had become good friends by then and he invited me to the ceremony. He made it clear that it wasn't just that he was receiving the Award, but there was another surprise for me! It was wonderful to actually meet and thank him for what his work had meant to me.
Fred knew my passion for JB's books, as I had taught Another Country at CBSchool.
You'll find some of Fred's poetry/novels in the library. Apart from being a student of mine, he also wrote about being taught by an openly gay teacher, in School's Out (London Gay Teachers' Group). His first play was High Life (unpublished), which was based in Pepys Estate, Deptford and featured a gay relationship. It was performed at the Albany Empire.