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Detroit Writer’s Novel to be Made into TV Series 

by Mandy Shunnarah

A person of dark skin tone with buzzed hair and a short beard, wearing a light grey pullover, is seated and gestures with his hands as he talks to a seated audience. There is a table beside them with a couple of books.
Photo Credit: Aaron Foley
Aaron Foley, author of Boys Come First, at an event for his book, Boys Come First.

Aaron Foley’s novel, “Boys Come First,” will be made into a TV series by Amazon Studios. It’s a win for indie authors, the Black LGBTQIA+ community and the Midwest at large.


Aaron Foley loves his city. From his first two books, works of nonfiction titled How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass and The Detroit Neighborhood Guidebook to his debut novel, Boys Come First, which is set in Detroit, Foley is passionate about his hometown.  

Soon, even more people will see the city through Foley’s eyes thanks to Amazon Studios making a TV adaptation of the novel. He teased the news on Twitter with, “So, about that need for more Black gay shows…” 

Not only is Boys Come First a love letter to the city but also to the gay Black community within it. The novel follows three gay, millennial Black men as they navigate love, friendship and gentrification in a changing Detroit. Publishers Weekly said, “Foley’s love for his city and his engaging characters shines through, and his novel is funny, naughty, and comforting.”  

A person of dark skin tone with a mustache, wearing black-rimmed glasses and a green hat. They are wearing a yellow t-shirt and looking at the camera while holding up a book titled 'Boys Come First.' The book has an illustrated cover with three dark skin people smiling and embracing.
Aaron Foley, author of Boys Come First, holding up a copy of his book which was released in 2021.

In 2022, the novel became the first work of fiction published by the regional indie press Belt Publishing and quickly captured the attention of readers nationally. This recognition led Primetime Emmy Award-winner Chuck Hayward—who has previously worked on shows like WandaVision, Ted Lasso and Dear White People—to executive produce and write the pilot episode for Amazon Studios once rights were purchased.

“I grew up on ‘Martin’ and ‘Sister, Sister,’ and of course, we have ‘BMF’ [‘Black Mafia Family’] now, so I’m just as excited about having the chance to add to the Detroit TV library,” Foley told the Detroit Free Press. “And I couldn’t have imagined that in a current environment that is unfriendly to queer literature that this story could be amplified this way.”

The unfriendliness toward queer literature that Foley referenced has been well documented. The American Library Association released data on banned and challenged books from 2022. They stated, “A record 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted for censorship in 2021. Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.”

Since Foley is both Black and gay, having Boys Come First be so well received in the literary world so much that the novel is being made into a TV series is cause for celebration.


  • Headshot of a smiling person of light skin tone and short brown hair slicked to the side, wearing earrings and a necklace with gold accents, and a tan shirt under a black blazer with two small pins in the shape of an airplane and a book.

    Contributing Writer

    Mandy Shunnarah (they/them) is an Alabama-born, Palestinian-American writer who calls Columbus, Ohio, home. Their essays, poetry, and short stories have been published in The New York Times, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, The Columbus Anthology from Belt Publishing, and more. Their first book, Midwest Shreds: Skating Through America’s Heartland, is forthcoming from Belt. Read more at mandyshunnarah.com.

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