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Memorial Hall Library

Learn more about LGBTQ+ history!

As Pride comes to a close and we commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots on June 28, it's a good time to learn more about the history of LGBTQ+ movements and people! This list addresses various topics in the history of LGBTQ+ movements in the United States: from the lives of 19th-century Black trans people to Stonewall to the AIDS crisis and through Supreme Court victories of recent years.

If you're looking for more LGBTQ+ books check out these additional lists:

Trans-formative Science Fiction and Fantasy
LGBTQ History Makers
All The Colors of the Rainbow: Black LGBTQ Books for Teens
June is LGBTQ Pride Month
LGBTQ+ books for children and tweens
LGBTQ Fiction for Teens
Recent LGBTQ Adult Books
Books by Transgender Women
Transgender Day of Visibility


                                       The Stonewall reader : edited by the New York Public Library
The Stonewall reader : edited by the New York Public Library
by New York Public Library

For the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, an anthology chronicling the tumultuous fight for LGBTQ rights in the 1960s and the activists who spearheaded it, with a foreword by Edmund White. June 28, 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which is considered the most significant event in the gay liberation movement, and the catalyst for the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States. Drawing from the New York Public Library's archives, The Stonewall Reader isa collection of first accounts, diaries, periodic literature, and articles from LGBTQ magazines and newspapers that documented both the years leading up to and the years following the riots. Most importantly the anthology spotlights both iconic activistswho were pivotal in the movement, such as Sylvia Rivera, co-founder of Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR), as well as forgotten figures like Ernestine Eckstein, one of the few out, African American, lesbian activists in the 1960s. The anthology focuses on the events of 1969, the five years before, and the five years after. Jason Baumann, the NYPL coordinator of humanities and LGBTQ collections, has edited and introduced the volume to coincide with the NYPL exhibition he has curated on theStonewall uprising and gay liberation movement of 1969. 

                                       We are everywhere : protest, power, and pride in the history of Queer Liberation
We are everywhere : protest, power, and pride in the history of Queer Liberation
by Matthew Riemer

Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, this essential and empowering introduction to the history of queer liberation traces queer activism from its roots in late-19th-century Europe to the gender warriors leading the charge today.

                                       Stonewall : breaking out in the fight for gay rights
Stonewall : breaking out in the fight for gay rights
by Ann Bausum

The award-winning author of Marching to the Mountaintop presents a history of gay tolerance that traces the progression of civil rights for gay citizens and identifies the prejudices and misconceptions that have criminalized homosexual relationships. 

                                       Modern HERstory : stories of women and nonbinary people rewriting history
Modern HERstory : stories of women and nonbinary people rewriting history
by Blair Imani

An illustrated and informative primer on the progressive social change movements of the last 60 years as told through the stories of 60 diverse female and non-binary leaders in those movements, from the Civil Rights Movement and Stonewall riots through today. Inspiring a radical and inclusive approach to history, Modern HERstory celebrates 60 modern women and non-binary people who have changed the world. From the the civil rights movement and the women's movement to the LGBT rights movement and Black Lives Matter, these trailblazers come from backgrounds and communities that are traditionally overlooked and under-celebrated despite making huge contributions to the social change and progress movements of the last century: not just women, but people of color, queer people, trans people, Muslims, and young people. Authored by rising star activist Blair Imani, Modern HERstory tells the important stories of these leaders and their movements in an easy-to-follow format appropriate for all ages, granting them the visibility and acknowledgment they deserve, and educating readers about the people changing the world right here and right now--and inspiring them to do the same.

                                       Black on both sides : a racial history of trans identity
Black on both sides : a racial history of trans identity
by C. Riley Snorton

The story of Christine Jorgensen, America's first prominent transsexual, famously narrated trans embodiment in the postwar era. Her celebrity, however, has obscured other mid-century trans narratives-ones lived by African Americans such as Lucy Hicks Anderson and James McHarris. Their erasure from trans history masks the profound ways race has figured prominently in the construction and representation of transgender subjects. C. Riley Snorton identifies multiple intersections between blackness and transness from the mid-nineteenth century to present-day anti-black and anti-trans legislation and violence. Drawing on a deep and varied archive of materials-early sexological texts, fugitive slave narratives, Afro-modernist literature, sensationalist journalism, Hollywood films-Snorton attends to how slavery and the production of racialized gender provided the foundations for an understanding of gender as mutable. In tracing the twinned genealogies of blackness and transness, Snorton follows multiple trajectories, from the medical experiments conducted on enslaved black women by J. Marion Sims, the father of American gynecology,to the negation of blackness that makes transnormativity possible. Revealing instances of personal sovereignty among blacks living in the antebellum North that were mapped in terms of cross dressing and canonical black literary works that express black mens access to the female within, he concludes with a reading of the fate of Phillip DeVine, who was murdered alongside Brandon Teena in 1993, a fact omitted from the film Boys Don't Cry out of narrative convenience.

                                       The right side of history : 100 years of LGBTQI activism
The right side of history : 100 years of LGBTQI activism
by Adrian Brooks

Brings together a multitude of voices to trace the hundred-year history of LGBTQI activism in the United States.

                                       The gay revolution : the story of the struggle
The gay revolution : the story of the struggle
by Lillian Faderman

A chronicle of the modern struggle for gay, lesbian, and transgender rights draws on interviews with politicians, military figures, legal activists, and members of the LGBT community to document the cause's struggles since the 1950s. 

                                       Queer, there, and everywhere : 23 people who changed the world
Queer, there, and everywhere : 23 people who changed the world
by Sarah Prager

Profiles notable LGBTQ figures and highlights their contributions to society and their community, including Kristina Vasa, Frida Kahlo, Alan Turing, Glenn Burke, and George Takei.

                                       How to survive a plague : the inside story of how citizens and science tamed AIDS
How to survive a plague : the inside story of how citizens and science tamed AIDS
by David France

A definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, written by the creator of and inspired by the seminal documentary of the same name, also shares the poignant stories of gay activists who resolved to make their life battles purposeful. 

                                       A wild and precious life : a memoir
A wild and precious life : a memoir
by Edie Windsor

The LGBT rights activist and lead plaintiff for the United States v. Windsor Supreme Court case chronicles decades of gay life in New York City while exploring her advocacy role in promoting marriage equality. 

                                       Don't tell me to wait : how the fight for gay rights changed America and transformed Obama's presidency
Don't tell me to wait : how the fight for gay rights changed America and transformed Obama's presidency
by Kerry Eleveld

A award-winning journalist and former reporter for The Advocate tells the dramatic story of the fight for gay rights in America, showing how activists pushed Obama to change his mind, turned the tide of political opinion and ensured that future Democratic presidential nominees would always embrace marriage equality.

                                       Queer : a graphic history
Queer : a graphic history
by Meg John Barker

An exploration of Queer thought and LGBTQ action calls on pop-culture, film, activism, and academia to examine the ideas, people, and events that have shaped queer theory.

                                       A desired past : a short history of same-sex love in America
A desired past : a short history of same-sex love in America
by Leila J. Rupp

A fascinating tour of same-sex love across four centuries of American history begins with European observations of native sexual practices when they arrived on American shores and chronicles a wide array of alternative behaviors.

                                       When Brooklyn was queer
When Brooklyn was queer
by Hugh Ryan

A groundbreaking, never-before-told story of the neighborhood’s colorful and forgotten queer history, from the mid-1850s up to the present day, shows how the formation of the Brooklyn we know today is inextricably linked to the stories of the extraordinary people who created its diverse neighborhoods and cultures.

                                       Sister outsider : essays and speeches
Sister outsider : essays and speeches
by Audre Lorde

Sister Outsider presents essential writings of black poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, an influential voice in 20th century literature. In this varied collection of essays, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, offering a message of struggle but also of hope.