June is Pride month, a time to recognize the impact that LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) individuals have had on history, to celebrate their experiences and culture, and to remember those who have been lost due to violence and illness over the years. Perhaps the most well-known celebration is the NYC Pride March – the absolutely massive, exciting, and fantastically colorful event that returns virtually this year – but it’s certainly not the only way to celebrate. A great way to take part is by simply learning more about the history of Pride, and reading books by and about members of the LGBTQ community.
The first NYC Pride March was held in 1970, on the one year anniversary of The Stonewall uprising. On June 28th, 1969, a police raid at the Stonewall Inn (a gay bar in Greenwich Village) incited a riot and series of spontaneous protests and demonstrations. The Stonewall Riot is now largely considered the catalyst of the modern gay rights movement. The library has a number of great books on the subject for all ages, from “This Day in June” by Gayle E. Pitman (Kids), to the photographic history “We Are Everywhere” by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown (Teen and Adult). For more on The Stonewall riots specifically, try “The Stonewall Riots” by Marc Stein, which presents a detailed overview of the moment and the movement through photographs, first-person accounts, court documents, political flyers, and more.
This is also a good time to read books by LGBTQ voices, both past and present. Start with a classic like James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” (1956), a haunting exploration of sexual identity, love, and shame, or “The Price of Salt” (1952), written by Patricia Highsmith under the pseudonym “Claire Morgan”. The latter was more of a cult-classic, and a novel undeniably ahead of its time, which enjoyed a recent resurgence after being adapted into the critically-acclaimed film “Carol” (2015). You may also want to go way, way back and explore the work of Sappho…or, at least, what remains of it. The prolific Greek poet, who inspired such terms as “sapphic” and “lesbian” (she lived on the island of Lesbos), is said to have written 10,000 lines of poetry, though the majority have been lost. Check out “Searching for Sappho” by Philip Freeman for a more information and complete translations of her surviving work.
There are plenty of newer books by LGBTQ authors to explore as well, from fiction to personal memoirs. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle, “Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing” by Lauren Hough and “Broken Horses” by Brandi Carlile are all newish memoirs that give you some insight into the experiences of a few very different members of the LGBTQ community. A couple other brand new books that you won’t want to miss are “Dear Senthuran” by Akwaeke Emezi and “Filthy Animals” by Brandon Taylor.
By Cassie Skobrak, Reference Librarian