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LGBTQ History Books You Need for Pride

5 minute read

From the Stonewall Riots to Marriage Equality

LGBTQ history is long and full of pain, struggle, success, and pride. It was once a crime to be gay. But people fought back. They fought to be out, to be themselves, and to love who they love.

Did you know that Pride parades were once protests? The celebrations we have today were once a celebration in protest. Knowing the history behind Pride is an important part of celebrating it.

Learning the history of any important event might seem hard. Where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together a roundup of LGBTQ history books to help you celebrate pride.

The Stonewall Reader, by New York Public Libary

The Stonewall Reader

2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which is one of the most important events in LGBTQ history. The Stonewall Reader is a collection of stories, diary entries, and news articles leading up to, during, and shortly after those riots. What makes this book unique is that everything is sourced from the New York Public Library. So, we can get a first-hand account of what happened.

Knowing what happened during the Stonewall riots is important. But remembering the leaders of the movement is essential. This collection shines a light on many of the forgotten leaders of the movement, such as Sylvia Rivera, the co-founder of STAR, and Ernestine Eckstein, a Black lesbian activist of the 1960s.

Queer: A Graphic History, by Meg John Barker and Julia Scheele

Queer: A Graphic History, by Meg John Barker and Julia Scheele

Topics like identity politics and queer theory can be a bit intimidating. Don’t worry, this book will help you jump right in. Queer: A Graphic History is a graphic novel that covers everything from pop-culture and film to the people and events that shaped what we know “queer,” and how these ideas have changed over the years. 

Meg John Barker and Julia Scheele guide readers through questions about sex, gender, and sexuality using their fun images and art. It is a great read that will keep you turning the page. This is a perfect place to start learning about LGBTQ+ history and its culture. 

Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution, by David Carter

Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution, by David Carter

Considered THE book on the Stonewall riots, Stonewall helps bring to life the event that sparked the gay revolution back in 1969. The riots were such an important part of the LGBTQ+ movement, they have become the stuff of legends. However, after interviews, research, and even the unsealing of public files, David Carter was able to bring the Stonewall riots to life.

Originally published in 2004, this book is the source material for the PBS American Experience documentary Stonewall Uprising. So, if you want to know more about how the riots changed history, this is where to start.

We Are Everywhere, by Matthew Reimer and Leighton Brown

We Are Everywhere, by Matthew Reimer and Leighton Brown

Combining written history and striking images, We Are Everywhere is a unique look into LGBTQ history. This is a true photographic history of queer liberation by the people behind the Instagram @lgbt_history. This book spans queer history and queer activism all the way back to late-nineteenth-century Europe. From there, the story showcases the decades leading up to the Stonewall Riots and beyond, up to the gender activists of today. 

This is one of the few LGBTQ history books that show us history in full-on living color. More importantly, We Are Everywhere challenges assumptions made about LGBTQ history, by showcasing the activists who started it all. 

The Gay Revolution, by Lillian Faderman

The Gay Revolution, by Lillian Faderman

Focusing on interviews from politicians, military figures, and members of the LGTQ community, this book encompasses the complex history of the gay revolution. A lot of books focus on the 1969 Stonewall Riots, but this book takes a look at history as a whole. It starts with the obscene realities that the LGBTQ community suffered before the revolution. From there the book talks about LGBTQ activism in the 70s and the AIDS crisis in the 80s. Finally, it ends with the fight for marriage equality in the 2000s.

Lillian Faderman is a scholar of lesbian history and literature, who wants to paint a unique and complete portrait of LGBTQ history. This book is one of the best books on the subject.

Transgender History, by Susan Stryker

Transgender History, by Susan Stryker

Did you know there were transexual and transvestite communities post-WWII? Or about the transexual phenomenon in the late 60s and 70s? If you want to know more about transgender history, then this is a perfect read. Starting with the mid-twentieth century Transgender History takes a chronological look at the writings and events that lead to transgender rights today.

Each section of the book contains informational sidebars. These highlight important texts, quotes, and biographies of important historical figures. It’s this feature that makes this book stand out.

Before you head out to celebrate Pride this year, pick up a few history books. We get to celebrate, but that wasn’t always the case. So, let’s respect those who fought for our right to be who we are. Remember your history. Celebrate your present.

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Featured Photo Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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Writer, editor, and proud nerd. Co-host of Wit Beyond Measure, a Jane Austen podcast. A reader of books, binger of Netflix, and knitter of scarves. Her cat is probably yelling at her right now.