A Trans Man Walks into a Gay Bar

Harry Nicholas
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

A memoir about a trans man coming out as gay and how he navigates dating life in London may seem niche. After all, the author himself points out that he was compelled to write this book because he couldn’t find any of its kind on the shelves­­. And yet, not even halfway through I found myself telling everyone who would listen “you have to read this book, it’s so damn good.”

On second thought, though, it’s not at all surprising; finding your feet after a big breakup, understanding who you are in your twenties, your relationship with your own body, craving and seeking love…. these are struggles practically everyone can relate to. And Harry Nicholas confronts these questions in the best possible way: with candour, conviction, and a lot of much-needed humour.

Make no mistake, however; Nicholas isn’t interested in presenting a diluted version of queer life for cis and/or straight audiences. Queer sex, body image issues, shame, how expensive hookup culture can get, the joys and tribulations of dating apps, dysphoria and euphoria, swimming in the Hampstead Heath Pond, exploring the world of gay saunas—the good, the bad, the complicated—all of it he discusses openly on the page.

In doing so, he provides an intimate account of living as a trans person today. Although Nicholas makes it a point to note that his is only one story amongst many, he effectively uses his personal narrative to shed light on challenges specific to the queer and trans community, as well as struggles all too familiar to most people who have been young and single in the city.

The writing is truly special, too; most of the time, the book reads like a close friend recounting his triumphs and tribulations over boozy brunch. Others, crucially, it offers incisive analysis on the most pressing questions for trans people today. The result is one of the funniest, warmest, thought-provoking memoirs I’ve ever read. Highly recommend!

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