LGBT History Month isn’t until October but Pride, celebrated each June in commemoration of 1969’s Stonewall Riots, is an equally good time to read up on the history of LGBTQ life in the United States. Scholars have recently turned their attention to recovering the stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer people that were hidden in plain sight– disguised by euphemism, buried in family stories, or simply waiting for someone to bother looking.
The four books on this list will, I hope, provide an entry point to this rich body of literature. If you’re looking for even more books on LGBTQ history and culture, check out our past post on Book Riot or the Lambda Literary‘s list of non-fiction books nominated for the Lammys.
There’s also an incredible #OrlandoSyllabus growing on Twitter (and in a public Google doc). That document, managed by Jamie Berrout, Venus Selenite, Oliver Bendorf, and Lydia Willoughby, centers the history and experiences of QTPOC. All the books here are on the #OrlandoSyllabus but that document includes many, many more suggestions (as this goes to press, it’s 79 pages and still growing).
Performing Queer Latinidad: Dance, Sexuality, Politics by Ramon H. Rivera-Servera, a scholar of performance studies at Northwestern University, explores the ways that performance, especially dance, created a public culture of gay, lesbian, and queer Latinx identity. Rivera-Servera explains that dance and performance is explicitly political even while it is celebratory and joyous. He studies the ways that sexual and gender identity intersect with class and ethnic identities inside dance clubs. More than perhaps any other book, Performing Queer Latinidad speaks directly to the reasons that the attack on Pulse’s “Latin Night” has extra levels of meaning. This is also a fairly accessible book that folks new to performance studies, LGBTQ history, or Latinx studies will find approachable. Plus, it won (or was nominated for) a ton of awards from folks working in dance studies, anthropology, and LGBTQ studies. Perhaps most notably, it won the 2013 Lambda Award in LGBTQ studies.
This collection of thirteen essays covers topics like classism and racism within the gay community, how black gay men are presented in pornography, and the author’s own search for his identity. More personal and lyrical than an academic history text, What Color is Your Hoodie is a good introduction to important questions about sexuality, race, and personal identity in the early 21st century.
Please share your favorite books on LGBTQ history in the comments or to the #OrlandoSyllabus!