Pride is here, a glorious month devoted to the LGBTQ+ community. It's a celebratory stretch, for certain, but also an important reminder to self-educate about important movements, whether you're actively part of them or supporting them as allies.
One of the best ways to absorb and respect a movement is by taking in its historical arc. We've come a long way, but the journey has really just begun. A great way to refuel the momentum of progress is by taking in how much evolution has already taken place. Like so many important pushes for freedom by unfairly marginalized communities in this country — the Black community, the AAPI community, the disabled community, women, and more — the fight for LGBTQ+ rights has involved key figures, moments, and triumphs. That Pride history guides the next steps of the movement and is imperative to understand going forward.
Yes, clank your glasses in the name of equal rights for all. March at gatherings and fund the related causes, if you're able. But remember to educate yourself as well. Here is some worthwhile literature to enlighten you on all things LBGTQ+ history, which is valuable for both the scholar and novice (and everybody in between). It's by no means a complete list, but a great way to further your knowledge and contextual understanding as we celebrate Pride in 2022.
Queer: A Collection of Writing from Ancient Times to Yesterday
This historical compilation, assembled by Frank Wynne, looks at the queer experience through the lens of poets and writers over the ages. It’s a fantastic reminder of how coming out has been a part of humanity since the beginning and doing so is not only beautiful, but it can make for gorgeous prose.
The Gay Revolution
The full title of this book is The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle and for good reason. The journey has been arduous, with lives lost, awful laws enacted, and people persecuted. This book is comprehensive and full of firsthand accounts from prominent figures in the revolution, starting from the 1950s on.
The Lavender Scare
This book covers the particularly dark and clandestine period during the Cold War in which communists and homosexuals were essentially treated as enemies of the state. The award-winning book takes a deep dive into it all, pulling from formerly classified documents to paint the sobering picture. It’s a haunting reminder of federal policy that badly needed reform.
Black on Both Sides
Not to be confused with the great Mos Def album of the same name, this C. Riley Snorton book chronicles the history of the Black trans community. It takes a detailed look at the slave era and trans culture at the time, so often punished or ignored. While things have changed in the last 150 years, it’s hard not to draw comparisons between the anti-trans ways of yesteryear and those of today.
Real Queer America
Daring and brutally American, this book examines queer life in red states, places notoriously hostile toward marginalized communities. It’s the work of an author who went from being a Mormon woman to marrying a fellow woman. It’s an eye-opening road trip for the ages and a surprisingly hopeful one, pointing out the many positive tales that unfold in unexpected corners of our country.
The Stonewall Reader
A list like this has to have at least one book that focuses on Stonewall. While the New York uprising wasn’t necessarily the first of its kind (there were others way back, not to mention similar ones like the Black Cat that predated this), it’s hugely important and has become a symbol of the movement at large. This book, edited by the New York Public Library, gives you a vivid picture of not only the event itself, but how it built over the years as well as its immediate aftermath.
Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution
An important read amid anti-trans legislation that continues to rear its ugly head in this country, this book offers a healthy synopsis of the movement from the Baby Boom era forward. It’s by no means a comprehensive book but it does highlight the major talking points nicely, illustrating the trajectory of the trans movement and the battles still being waged.
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