Celebrating Pride Month offers us the opportunity to reflect, to love, and to protest. This year, queer folks around the country mobilized and protested, carrying signs calling for the end of ICE and separating families at the border, anti-gun violence, Black Lives Matter, anti-police presence, and President Donald Trump’s impeachment. I take pride in the increasingly mainstream intersectionality of the LGBTQIA+ movement. For me, the energy of Pride motivates the intense volunteer work I do year-round. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of need, but Pride reminds me that there’s a whole community of LGBTQIA+ folks and allies who have my back. Below is just a sample of the excellent stories and interviews I read throughout June.
1. “I Found God at Queer Summer Camp.” (Jeanna Kadlec, Narratively, June 2018)
This essay stunned me from its first paragraph, and it inspired me to create this reading list. Jeanna Kadlec does a brilliant job explaining the layers of trauma ex-fundamentalist Christians grapple with daily, but her essay is shot through with joy, wonder, and hope. As my Southern, Christian college professor would say, I commend it to you. If you’d like to learn more about A-Camp after reading Kadlec’s essay, there’s a delightful roundtable of counselors and campers sharing their experiences.
2. “What It Means to be Trans & at the Beach in America.” (Lia Clay, Refinery29, July 2017)
I rejoiced in these beautiful photos and the accompanying meditations about cis allyship, the inadequacy of safe spaces, body positivity versus dysphoria, and establishing conscientious boundaries. This is the first summer I’ve thought seriously about what I’d like to wear and how I’d like to be perceived at the beach. Last summer, I bought a pair of robin’s-egg blue swim trunks, but never wore them. I’m still not sure what to wear on top. A bikini with a t-shirt over it? A binder? Maybe I’ll wear something else entirely, something that hasn’t been invented yet. May these photos inspire you to have your freest summer ever and wear whatever fills you with comfort and confidence. Check out “14 Photos of New York’s Queer Beach During Pride” from Them, if your heart craves even more queer joy.
3. & 4. “I Detransitioned. But Not Because I Wasn’t Trans.” and “Why is the Media So Worried About the Parents of Trans Kids?” (The Atlantic, June 2018)
Skip the The Atlantic’s misguided attempt at a timely cover story and read Robyn Kanner and Thomas Page McBee’s thoughtful responses instead. Hire trans people to report and write trans stories, please.
5. “Journalist Jenna Wortham on Cultivating Community for Queer People of Color.” (Taryn Finley, Huffington Post, June 2018)
Jenna Wortham is a force of nature, a podcast host and tech reporter who balances creating brilliant work with enforcing her own boundaries and self-care. Interviewer Taryn Finley describes Wortham’s work “as a salve for the marginalized.”
6. “Heteronormativity is the Ultimate Karaoke: An Interview with Chelsey Johnson.” (Leni Zumas, Tin House, March 2018)
Chelsey Johnson is the author of one of my favorite books, Stray City. It’s a novel about Andrea Morales, a young queer woman living in ’90s Portland grappling with an unexpected pregnancy and shifting definitions of family and community. It’s a book imbued with warmth, one I wish I could read again for the first time. In this interview with Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks, Johnson discusses “counter[ing[ the canonical coming-out story,” shopping for vinyl, her inner queer-theory critics, and how “the story of a straight white man fucking up” became Stray City.
7. “Meet Me at Cuties: The Queer-Owned L.A. Coffee Bar that Puts Community First.” (Molly Adams, Autostraddle, May 2018)
In this delightful interview, Iris Bainum-Houle and Virginia Bauman, founders of Cuties, discuss implementing and enforcing community guidelines in a queer-owned retail space, the day-to-day maintenance of a small business, and their advice for opening a business of your own. As a human who doesn’t drink, I treasure queer-owned gathering spaces that don’t make alcohol a priority, and I look forward to visiting Cuties next time I’m out west. (Related: I would absolutely pull a Stephanie and try to convince my friends to reenact The Planet of The L-Word at my local cafe.)
A Longreads-centric Pride Month Reading List:
- Making Peace with Selective Reduction, Amber Leventry
- The Power in Knowing: Black Women, HIV, and the Power of Safe Sex, Minda Honey
- The Unforgettable Edie Windsor, Danielle Tcholakian
- Sober Gay Man Seeks…What, Exactly, He’s No Longer Sure, Larry Ruhl (in collaboration with TMI Project)
- The Roaring Girls of Queer London, Peter Ackroyd (an excerpt from ‘Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day’)
- A San Francisco Story, Leah Rose
- The Ladies Who Were Famous for Wanting to Be Left Alone, Patricia Hampl (excerpt adapted from ‘The Art of the Wasted Day’)