Ten Books to Set the Stage for Pride Month
The journey to where the LGBTQ+ is today is often forgotten, but these books tell the stories of the people past and present who make the community what it is today.
When Brooklyn was Queer by Hugh Ryan
Unknown to many, Brooklyn has been the longtime home to one of the largest queer communities in the US. Through his writing, Ryan paints a vivid picture of the often-forgotten LGBTQ+communities in the 1850s-World War II and the present. Creating a timeline through both the celebrated and forgotten members of the city, he uses personal stories from diaries, pictures, interviews, and letters, to bring to life the communities that offered sanctuary and revolution to LGBTQ+ members throughout history. He celebrates the livelihoods of the overlooked and oppressed and speaks to how they grew Brooklyn into how it is known today.
The Men with the Pink Triangle by Heinz Heger
Often forgotten victims of the Holocaust were the 10,000-15,000 gay men killed in the Holocaust. Pre-WWII, a thriving gay and lesbian community was growing in Europe. Many know the historic book burnings of the Nazis, but few know that they caused the destruction of some of the largest collections of LGBTQ+ writing and research of its time, with the inclusion of gay and trans people in the Holocaust. Perhaps the most famous survivor’s account, however, details the pain and resilience of the victims of the Holocaust, and Heger’s personal survival journey through it.
Transgender History Susan Stryker 2nd edition
Even in LGBTQ+ circles, trans history is often the least-known topic, in part because of the active suppression of it. In Transgender History Susan Stryker cultivates a living, comprehensive history of the people who fought for much of the equality in America now, with her chronology post-WWII. Through vivid research and storytelling, Stryker documents the communities and movements that created the LGBTQ+ community that exists today.
Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans
In a deeply intimate self-portrait, Jasmine Man’s latest poetry collection documents what it means to be a Black American queer woman growing up and finding her place in the world. In her book, Mans takes her readers through coming of age, trauma, religion, healing, loss, and love. Along with personal experiences, Mans pays homage to the women, ancestors, and activists that came before her and shaped her existence in her world today. Through this powerful collection, Mans seeks an understanding of all of the parts that make her who she is.
And the Band Played On - Randy Shilts
Though it may not traditionally be considered a document of LGBTQ+ history, And the Band Played On is essential reading for any community member or ally. Shilts constructs one of the best looks at the AIDS epidemic that claimed the lives of millions and took near an entire generation of LGBTQ+ members with it. In this powerful and gutwrenching investigation, Shilts holds no punches as he dives into how the epidemic spread, was covered up and weaponized against LGBTQ+ people, and since has been systematically erased from history. An instant success upon its publishing, Shilt’s powerful piece is cited as a catalyst for a shift in the way the disease was addressed in the United States after his powerful investigation.
Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities; The making of the homosexual minority in the United States, 1940-1970 by John D’emelio
John D’amelio takes an important look at the people and culture that brought the LGBTQ+ community to what it is today. As D’emelio notes, the community didn’t begin with Stonewall, and neither did the oppression that brought it about. Through this extremely in-depth look of sexuality from the 1940s-1970s, D’emelio chronicles the unification of LGBTQ+people into one community, and documents the rise in homophobia that pushed them to it. With the first edition published in 1983, the book has become a notable piece of LGBTQ+ history in itself.
We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib
In her deeply honest memoir, Samra Habib tells the story of her journeys from Pakistan to Canada and everywhere in between, and how her experiences in place and culture shaped her understanding of her own queer Muslim self. Habib’s words wrap her reader up into the sensations of her world, and takes them along the joys and heartbreaks of being an outlier in your culture and creating your own places of belonging.
Gay American History by Johnathan Ned Katz
Similar to We Have Always Been Here, Katz’s chronology of gay American history in the late 20th century was considered groundbreaking upon its publishing and has become another staple of LGBTQ+ historical reading. Spanning the 1500s-1970s, no work documents the arrival of the first Europeans to the Americas to the time of its publishing as well as this piece. Through this work, Katz details the oppression LGBTQ+ faced since the founding of America and the survival, resilience, and legacy, of the community.
How Sex Changed, A History of Transsexuality in the United States by Joanne Meyerowitz
In this in-depth investigative writing, Joanna Meyerowitz walks through the cultural, medical, and social history of trans people. Through it, she tells the story of how society has defined sex, gender, and medicine that exist now, and the understanding surrounding them. Starting with early 20th century experiments to the latest advancements today, Meyerowitz collects a wide variety of perspectives as she constructs her writing around the testimonials of trans people, medical and legal experts, and activists who partook in the evolution, creating a timeless, personal testimonial.
Queer Intentions – A (Personal) Journey Through LGBTQ+ Culture by Amelia Abraham
LGBTQ+ Identity Politics Journalist and Writer Saceyann Chin goes beyond the current state of American LGBTQ+ progress and looks at LGBTQ+ acceptance around the world. Her sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking writing documents her own queer identity through the lens of her pursuit of LGBTQ+ identity around the world. Queer Intentions gives a grounding look at the variety of LGBTQ+ experiences around the world today for both community members and allies alike.