Boys Come First

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Aaron Foley
May 31, 2022

This hilarious, touching debut novel by Aaron Foley, author of How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass, follows three Black gay millennial men looking for love, friendship, and professional success in the Motor City. 

Suddenly jobless and single after a devastating layoff and a breakup with his cheating ex, advertising copywriter Dominick Gibson flees his life in Hell's Kitchen to try and get back on track in his hometown of Detroit. He’s got one objective — exit the shallow dating pool ASAP and get married by thirty-five — and the deadline’s approaching fast.

Meanwhile, Dom's best friend, Troy Clements, an idealistic teacher who never left Michigan, finds himself at odds with all the men in his life: a troubled boyfriend he's desperate to hold onto, a perpetually dissatisfied father, and his other friend, Remy Patton. Remy, a rags-to-riches real estate agent known as “Mr. Detroit,” has his own problems — namely choosing between making it work with a long-distance lover or settling for a local Mr. Right Now who’s not quite Mr. Right. And when a high-stakes real estate deal threatens to blow up his friendship with Troy, the three men have to figure out how to navigate the pitfalls of friendship and a city that seems to be changing overnight.

Full of unforgettable characters, Boys Come First is about the trials and tribulations of real friendship, but also about the highlights and hiccups —late nights at the wine bar, awkward Grindr hookups, workplace microaggressions, situationships, frenemies, family drama, and of course, the group chat — that define Black, gay, millennial life in today’s Detroit.

Aaron Foley's reporting and writing on Detroit, blackness, and queerness has appeared in This American LifeJalopnik, the Atlantic, CNN, several anthologies, and the PBS NewsHour, where he is currently a senior digital editor. A Detroit native, the city's first appointed chief storyteller, and a former magazine editor, he is the author of How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass and editor of The Detroit Neighborhood Guidebook. He currently lives in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

Cover design by David Wilson.

ISBN: 9781953368256/Paperback/386 pages/May 31 2022. 

Media inquiries: please contact Phoebe Mogharei at 

Praise for Boys Come First

One of The Millions' "most anticipated" books of 2022!


"Uproarious, sharp, sober, biting, bumpy, bruising, hip, and real. Aaron Foley's Boys Come First moves along with a graceful self-assurance, spot-on characterizations, and a genuine assessment of extraordinary, yet mundane plight of Black queer men—how we must navigate the world, protect ourselves from violence and cruelties, construct our own safe spaces, and stitch together community from the strands of chosen family. This book is so brutally honest that it's hard to believe that it's fiction."
Robert Jones, Jr., author of New York Times bestseller The Prophets

"Aaron Foley's fantastic debut is a hilarious and heartfelt story of friendship, family, longing, and lust, wrapped in a beautiful love letter to Detroit. You can't help but root for Millennials Dominick, Remy, and Troy in all their messy magnificence. Fans of Terry McMillan and E. Lynn Harris especially will rejoice at Foley's smart, evocative prose. I devoured this book. And bonus: Reading Boys Come First made this Gen Xer feel just a little bit cooler." —Deesha Philyaw, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

"Imagine the thirtysomething angst of Insecure meeting the queer Black friendships of Noah's Arc intersecting with the dating dilemmas of Waiting to Exhale all rolled up into the dynamics of a gentrified Detroit... and you've got Boys Come First. It's a fun novel that will have you eager to turn every page or scroll to the next screen to find out what's coming next for Dominick, Troy, and Remy." —Frederick Smith, Busy Ain't the Half of It 

"My God, Aaron Foley's Boys Come First is an exhilarating debut! I'm obsessed. Sexy, heartfelt, unapologetically queer, and deliciously funny, this novel about friendship and finding love (in others and for oneself) in rapidly gentrifying Detroit really has it all. An absolute joy." —Chris GonzalezI'm Not Hungry but I Could Eat

"A Sex and the City meets Waiting to Exhale about millennial gay Black men, Boys Come First is full of sharp-edged shade, raunchy sex, boozy good times with ride-or-die friends, hints of love and vulnerability and even a few five-hankie moments toward the end. That it's set in the rapidly gentrifying city of Detroit by someone who knows the city inside-out only adds to the richness. I rarely say this, but once I started it I could not put it down and finished it in two nights. Equal parts sassy and sweet and a completely satisfying, very up-to-the-minute read." —Tim Murphy,  Christodora and Correspondents

"It’s all fun and games with friends Remy, Dominick and Troy until they hit their 30s. As their fraught situationships and sexy entanglements start to reveal hard truths about themselves, the friends must deal with life's hard questions. Foley has written a delicious romp about the game of love. But at its core, Boys Come First is a laugh out loud story about Foley’s first love—the city of Detroit." —Desiree Cooper, Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist and author of Know the Mother

"Boys Come First [is] an account of three Black gay friends in Detroit that upends popular expectations about race, class, gender, sexuality, and masculinity. Foley’s novel evokes Brian Broome in its hilarious and very millennial perspective on what it means to be a 30-something as the first quarter of this century comes to a close, a love letter to gay Michigan, which receives less attention than New York, San Francisco, or Atlanta." —Ed SimonThe Millions