Celebrate Pride: The Importance of LGBTQ History

Photo: Matt Kane
Photo: Matt Kane

Learning more about the history of the LGBTQ movement is a goal of mine. I came out to my friends and immediate family last year, and I feel as though I need to make up for lost time. I’ve added dozens of books to my to-read pile, like This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of ColorHold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS and Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America. Learning where I come from and to whom I owe my respect and gratitude is important to my self-acceptance and growth as a queer person. This Pride series continues with stories and interviews surrounding LGBTQ history in the United States.

1. The Events at Stonewall Inn, June 1969.

We celebrate Pride in June because of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The Advocate dug into its archives and now shares its 1969 coverage of June 28 and 29: “Police Raid on N.Y. Club Sets off First Gay Riot.” “Full Moon Over the Stonewall” at the Village Voice is Howard Smith’s column about being barricaded inside the Inn with police. Mey Rude interviews Miss Major at Autostraddle about the whitewashing of that historic night in the movie Stonewall.

2. “28 People on the Lesbian-Culture Artifacts that Changed their Lives.” (Vulture, November 2015)

The music of Team Dresch. The children’s book Harriet the Spy. Star Trek. These are only a few pieces of cultural ephemera  that influenced the queer women included this roundup, who’ve gone on to produce influential media of their own.

3. “The Case of Thomas/Thomasine Hall: Intersex and Genderfluid Identity in the Colonial Period.” (L.C. Thompson, The Toast, May 2016)

Through the lens of an American Colonial-era court case, L.C. Thompson challenges the idea that sex is a fixed binary–instead proposing sex can be fluid, like gender.

4. “The More Noise, the More They Listen.” (Los Angeles Review of Books, September 2015)

Historian John-Manuel Andriote interviews AIDS activist and acclaimed writer Larry Kramer.

“We’re more visible and accepted. But that should encourage us to create rather than relax…I want every gay person to be aware of our history — whether or not I’ve fictionalized it. A people deserves a history. You should know your history. I want gay history taught in schools. And they don’t teach it.”

5. “The History of Lesbian Bars.” (Nicole Pasulka, Broadly, August 2015)

Women who love women have always sought places to express themselves and their desires, in spite of the all-too-real possibility of legal repercussions. Nicole Pasulka takes the reader to apartment parties in Prohibition-era Harlem, saloons, sex-positive queer clubs and working-class lesbian bars, taking into consideration the effects of race and class on these spaces.