What could be better at the lending library during June than celebrating Pride month with another Quarterly Book Dump? This month we are pleased to bring you a variety of books on LGBTQ+ history, as well as an assortment of memoirs. These twelve new acquisitions will give you a wealth of both story and history to explore. We’ve loosely divided the books into categories to make it easier to sift through.
We have always been here and we always will be!
WWII Germany and Beyond: Interested in what life was like for LGBTQ+ people in Germany around the time of World War Two? These books will give you a glimpse:
Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington is written for a teen audience but contains information for anyone. This book discusses how Germany went from a more liberal, accepting-of-queer-people country to the effects of Nazi policies. If you’re interested in the story behind why the pink triangle is a symbol of gay rights, this book will show you how that came to be.
An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin by Gad Beck is an autobiography written in an honest, readable voice. Beck’s easy acceptance of himself and matter-of-fact manner of describing situations ripe with violence and hatred provides an intimate and moving look at this haunting chapter of German history.
States of Liberation: Gay Men between Dictatorship and Democracy in Cold War Germany by Samuel Clowes Huneke is a historical text bringing together both documentation and conversations with survivors to describe the history of gay men in East and West Germany after World War Two.
The AIDS Crisis: Ready to read about a tough, yet monumental recent historical event? These books have you covered:
Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 by Sarah Schulman is an amazingly thorough book about activism by one of the most prominent voices for justice during the AIDS crisis and beyond. If you’re looking to see how the ACT UP organization went about creating real change, this is the book for you.
Never Silent: ACT UP and My Life in Activism by Peter Staley is another book on activism during the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. With much more of a personal feel, this one follows the author through his work and life, mixing in moments of humor, passion, grief, and love.
Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is a collection of writing from a variety of authors offering up a perspective rarely examined—that of the generation coming up during the AIDS epidemic itself. These pieces explore trauma and hope, attempting to show a way forward.
Memoir: While many of the previous books are memoir or have a memoir component, we wanted to add a few clear memoir texts this month as well. From graphic memoir to the origin of the trans flag, these books are fascinating and satisfying.
Trans: A Memoir by Juliet Jacques follows the journey of a woman becoming herself. Originally a series of posts for The Guardian, Jacques expanded the work into a full book detailing her struggles, triumphs, feelings, and experiences. Ending on an interview, this memoir takes you on a candid journey.
More Than Just a Flag by Monica F. Helms is written by the woman who created the trans flag. Moving through her time in the military and beyond, she recounts her journey to discovering and accepting her true self and working to create a symbol for herself and others.
High-Risk Homosexual by Edgar Gomez follows the author as he comes of age as a gay, Latinx man. From messy family relationships to finding queer spaces everywhere he goes, the work mixes vulnerability and a quick wit to comment on power dynamics across gender, sexuality, race, and class.
Kimiko Does Cancer: A Graphic Memoir by Kimiko Tobimatsu takes you through the time in Kimiko’s life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Further complicated by her young age, queerness, and that she’s a mixed-race woman, Kimiko’s story is resonant and intimate and beautifully captured in art and text.
General History: Looking to learn a little but not go in depth? Want to read something fascinating? These last books may be for you.
Bad Gays: A Homosexual History by Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller is a book based on a podcast featuring queer historical villains. Just what that means is complicated by the authors, but they find value in exploring how history’s baddies and failures can inform modern audiences not just on the presence of queer people throughout history, but expose them to the often complex and imperfect ways that people have coped with their identities and the hatred and violence threatening them because of it.
We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown contains a wealth of information. The book has a robust collection of photographs and information from throughout the queer liberation movement, from Stonewall to marches to legislation and all the juicy activism in between.