Call to Arms: Modern LGBTQ+ Fiction of the Second World War

Written by Heloise Mezen (ed.)
Review by Viviane Crystal

Thirteen authors write about living in the LGBTQ world in England, Europe, Asia, South America and elsewhere during the 1940s, when these preferences, risky but undeniable, were clearly illegal. Add to the yearning to live normal lives the circumstances of WWII. Their acceptance of their sexual identity provides them with stability, though this is denied by heterosexuals, except for some uniquely understanding individuals.

Megan Reddaway’s “The Man Who Loved Pigs” is the story of a passionate man who is just as passionate in his startling, unassuming role as a possible spy. “We Live Without a Future” by Julie Bozza recounts the last days of Virginia Woolf, in which she treasures and questions her relationship with her lover and husband, dispassionately thinking she needs to free them both. In R. A. Padmos’s “A Life to Live,” a lover fears breaking his partner’s “soul of glass” more than flying an aircraft that will rain down death on innumerable war victims. “The Town of Titipu” by Adam Fitzroy adds a comic element as soldiers put on the play “The Mikado,” allowing their creativity to enliven a classic tale with a different twist. Sandra Lindsey’s “Between Friends” makes a significant statement about all these relationships: “… desire and lust are easy to understand and easy to answer. Love requires more care.”

While Europe and England are the focus of many of these stories, Russian and Japanese participation spotlight the different motives of enemies that affect the temporary and permanent bonds of soldiers and citizens. Articles and laws in the 1950s depict the horrific purges carried out on the LGBTQ community. An interesting, unified but fragmented, and memorably inspiring body of historical fiction.