The Stonewall Inn Riots, a series of protests following police raids on a queer bar in New York City that are widely considered the igniting spark for the modern LGBT rights movement, took place on June 28-29, 1969. Ever since then, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks in the United States have taken the month of June as a symbolic time to demonstrate pride in their sexual and gender minority identities.
This year, 45 years later, President Barack Obama has again declared June LGBT Pride Month, recognizing the importance for LGBTQ people to celebrate themselves and the political struggles their communities have been involved in. In order to show off our own pride, the UGL would like to recommend some items from our collection that display some LGBTQ pride and history.
by Martin Duberman
If you’re interested in going back to the beginning, Martin Duberman’s Stonewall is an important look—even 20 years on—at the watershed nature of the events at Stonewall through the eyes of six very different people. His history captures the conflicting and varied responses to the Stonewall events and draws a messy picture of the events leading up to Stonewall that made the riots such a historic event.
edited by Tommi Avicolli Mecca
Smash the Church, Smash the State takes a look at the political climate immediately following Stonewall by investigating the early years of the Gay Liberation Front, a anti-assimilationist activist group—the first to use the word “gay” in its name—that worked alongside (and sometimes against) other radical movements of the 1970s. Written by former GLF members, this book provides insight into a turbulent and fabulous movement whose work laid the foundation for contemporary LGBTQ politics.
by Sean Strub
Moving forward in time, another historically significant event in the history of queer people in the United States was the AIDS crisis of the late 80s and early 90s. Sean Strub’s memoir, Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, documents one slice of that time and what it meant for the gay community. As the founder of POZ magazine and the first openly HIV-positive candidate for the US legislature, Strub’s insight into the critical need for AIDS-related protections and research and his work with ACT UP paints an important picture of this era.
by Janet Mock
For a contemporary look at one aspect of LGBTQ pride, check out Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More. Mock was born to Black and Native Hawaiian parents in a working class neighborhood of Honolulu, and is now a respected writer and advocate for trans rights, creating #girlslikeus, an online movement for transwomen living visibly. Mock’s memoir traces her life from a childhood in Hawai‘i through her career in New York City, and it highlights the need for mainstream LGBTQ movements to center the experiences of trans women of color to continue to fight oppression both within and outside of LGBTQ communities.
There’s lots more Pride to be found in the stacks of the UGL and in Champaign-Urbana more widely. If you’re looking to celebrate this month, check out the UP Center’s Reel It UP! LGBT film festival, with showings every Tuesday in June at the Champaign Art Theater. Or, if you won’t be back on campus until school starts, Champaign-Urbana Pride will be on Saturday, September 6 in downtown Champaign. We encourage you to celebrate along with us by checking out some of these resources and events…Happy Pride!
Special thanks to guest blogger Tad Andracki!