It's Pride Month
As many of you likely already know, June is Pride Month. What you might not know, though, is that the very first "pride" was actually a riot to protest police violence against the gay community. A black trans woman threw a brick and history was made. A lot has changed since then. Same-sex marriage is the law of the land. The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was instituted and repealed. AIDS, a disease that ravaged the gay community and nearly wiped out an entire generation is now a manageable condition.
There have been some amazing advances for gay rights in the last 50 years, but the work is never, ever done, and that's part of the reason for this list. Whether you are straight or gay, trans or cis, a person of color or not, my hope is that reading these books will not only give you a broader understanding of the queer experience as a whole, but that you will also see a little piece of yourself reflected in them. After all, these stories aren't just queer stories. They're stories about hope and loss and fear and pain confusion and love. They're human stories.
We'll keep recommending books all month, so stay tuned for more!
A foundational piece of queer literature. After his girlfriend goes to Spain, an American man falls in love with a bartender (the eponymous "Giovanni") who he meets in a Parisian gay bar. Baldwin tackles bisexuality, masculinity, and the social isolation that comes from being rejected solely based on the person you love.
Carmen Maria Machado explores not only the dynamics of abusive queer relationships (and society's failure to acknowledge them) but the very form of a memoir itself in this incredibly personal and painful recounting of the domestic abuse she faced at the hands of her first girlfriend. While we know the author eventually leaves and goes on to do great things (have you read "Her Body and Other Parties"?), she still questions her own survival in a situation that ends much more tragically for many other women. Hard to read and hard to stop reading.
Two young Polish men bond over a forbidden copy of James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" (see above) during the final decade of communist rule in Poland. They share a summer together at an agricultural camp, but their lives take divergent conflicting paths when the season is over and they must return to their lives. Lovely and lyrical, brutal and heartbreaking, this is a story of first love and so much more.