by Gianfranco Lentini
With another incredible Pride month behind us, we hold these truths to be self-evident:
1. Pride began as — and will always be – a riot.
2. Our fight for equity has always been — and continues to be — carried by diverse, queer, and marginalized trailblazers from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
3. Our queer history was never — and never could be — contained to a single month.
Despite the ever-prevalent forces of homophobia, prejudice, and erasure that continue to challenge these statements, we know better. Just like we know, as queer people, that our power lies in numbers and knowledge. The more of us who understand where we’ve come from, the more united we stand for a truly inclusive tomorrow.
In the books below — written by just a few of the revolutionary activists, archivists, and historians documenting our LGBTQ+ fight — is a wealth of stories to inspire, educate, and empower us to keep pushing forward. Because sometimes, the best way to make history is by reading history.
by Toshio Meronek and Miss Major
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a Black, queer, transgender veteran in every sense of the word, having survived Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, Attica Prison, the Stonewall Riots, and the HIV/AIDS crisis. In Miss Major Speaks, the incredible details of a legendary life lived become a roadmap for navigating the challenges still faced today by queer and trans youth on the path to liberation. And as Miss Major reminds us, the fight for freedom can and must be affirmed, regardless of those who would erase history.
by Martin Duberman
On June 28, 1969, the patrons of New York’s legendary Stonewall Inn, for the first time, fought back during a routine police raid. As a result, the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in America changed forever. Over fifty years later, renowned historian and activist Martin Duberman has captured the full story of this pivotal moment in history — and the people who helped shape it — in a riveting narrative that will forever be known as the definitive account of the Stonewall Riots.
by Sarah Schulman
Twenty years in the making, Sarah Schulman's Lambda Literary Award-winning Let the Record Show is the most comprehensive political history ever assembled of ACT UP and American AIDS activism. Based on more than two hundred interviews with ACT UP members, this exploration and reassessment brings to light just how one coalition worked to create a livable future for generations of people across the world.
by Hugh Ryan
The Women’s House of Detention — the landmark prison in New York City’s Greenwich Village which ushered in the modern era of women’s imprisonment from 1929 to 1974 — has largely been forgotten. But now, historian Hugh Ryan has reconstructed the prison walls in his Stonewall Book Award-winning account to uncover the history of the tens of thousands of women, transgender men, and gender-nonconforming people who inhabited its crowded cells.
by C. Riley Snorton
Many mid-century trans narratives in postwar era America have been lost to time — especially if those narratives were anything but white. In C. Riley Snorton’s Lambda Literary Award-winning Black on Both Sides, they examine this erasure from trans history, focusing especially on the profound ways race has figured prominently in the construction and representation of transgender subjects.
by Kit Heyam
From Renaissance Venice to early America, trans historian and activist Kit Heyam offers a new, radically inclusive trans history that accounts for the complex realities of the lives of trans people often overlooked from antiquity to the present. In Before We Were Trans, looking to the past may just be the answer to revealing what glorious trans futures await us.
by Lillian Faderman
The battle for gay, lesbian, and trans civil rights has been going on for decades, and it’s nowhere near over. That’s why award-winning activist, scholar, and novelist Lillian Faderman dedicated countless hours to interviewing more than 150 politicians, military figures, and members of the entire LGBTQ+ community — to capture as much of this ever-evolving story as possible in The Gay Revolution.
by Eric Cervini
In 1957, Frank Kameny — a rising astronomer working for the U.S. Defense Department in Hawaii — was fired by the Pentagon for being a homosexual. But unlike many others fired before and after him, Kameny fought back. A finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History, Eric Cervini’s The Deviant’s War is the secret history of the fight for gay rights that began a generation before Stonewall.
Editor’s Note: Book descriptions courtesy of publishers, all edited for concision.