Raise your hand if you’re going to Pride this year! 2020 has been voted off the island. More importantly, we missed Pride. As we strut our stuff under the sun, let’s not forget why we have the parades in the first place. The queers, drag queens, and trans women—especially the folx of color—who fought back against police violence. The fight for LGBTQ rights has never stopped since the Stonewall uprisings. Whether it’s the fight for self-acceptance and self-expression, for the right to marry, for the right to use the bathroom aligned with your gender identity, for affordable access to HIV medication, for the abolition of violent and oppressive systems, there’s always a fight. And the fight has always been intersectional. That’s this year’s theme for NYC Pride. It’s also the theme that runs through all the books we’re recommending this month. Get your queer on!
The goal of ace liberation is simply the goal of true sexual and romantic freedom for everyone. A society that is welcoming to aces can never be compatible with rape culture; with misogyny, racism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia; with current hierarchies of romance and friendship; and with contractual notions of consent. It is a society that respects choice and highlights the pleasure that can be found everywhere in our lives. I believe that all this is possible.
The Ballroom community is unabashedly radical in its awareness of the ability to use identity as creatively as a makeup brush, whilst liberated from the gravity of greater social norms and the consequences of defying them: some so heavy—like transphobia—that they could be fatal. This is only one of many paradoxes Ballroom as a subculture so gorgeously embodies. And for over a century, it has advanced a concept that the mainstream is still grappling with: that all things can be many things at once.
—Ricky Tucker (forthcoming this December!)
We both sensed that we had always needed a book like At the Broken Places, which digs into the muddy middle where we disagreed on so much, and we always knew we wanted to return to a loving, more empathetic space for each other. The majority of families with transgender children exist in this more conflicted space. Now, finally, I have mustered the emotional strength to share with them our real story.
There is incredible trepidation that comes with moving away from your starting place toward something else. It is exciting; it is horrifying. It is this form of “trans” that not only moved me but also moved the others in my life, away, away, away, to a place where we had no reliable guides and no right words. For my mom and me, this book represents our best efforts, our worst shortcomings, and our frequent misunderstandings.
The worst part about trying to date women is that I don’t have my mother’s warnings. There is no indicator if I am doing it right or wrong. And so, my queer friends and the spoken-word artists in New York are my teachers, and they know the formula. Sleep with your friend, sleep with her friend. Break up and get back together again. Write her a poem, show her the piers, pretend you want less than you do. One-night stands, one-night nothing. You’ll see her at Henrietta’s again and again.
If homophobia and transphobia are costly, then we can and must make changes that will reduce those costs and more fully include LGBT people in our economies and societies. . . . Over time, more and more people around the world are being asked to make a choice about LGBT issues, whether in their votes for antigay politicians, their acceptance of family members, or their hiring decisions. They need to know the consequences of their decisions for us all, including for LGBT people.
—M. V. Lee Badgett
I knew it then—when we first found our eyes,
in our eyes, and everything around us—even
the din and smoke of the city—disappeared,
leaving us alone as if we were the only two
men in the world, two mirrors face-to-face:
my reflection in yours, yours in mine, infinite.
I knew since I knew you—but we couldn’t.
—Richard Blanco, from “Until We Could”
I believe that if we take her work seriously, we must talk about sexuality. I take the careful preservation of Lorraine’s writings in which she explored and expressed her sexuality seriously. Though her romantic relationships remain, for me, somewhat opaque, it is unquestionable that her desire for women and her love of women was meaningful as part of her politics, her intellectual life, and her aesthetics, as well as her spirit. I could not possibly write a portrait of her as an artist without it.
I don’t call myself a woman, and I know I’m not a man. That’s the part that upsets the pope—he’s worried that talk like that—not male, not female—will shatter the natural order of men and women. I look forward to the day it does.
For LGBTQ people—and especially youth and people just coming out—it’s not as easy to find out our true history. It’s not taught in schools; it’s not on postage stamps; the statues and monuments are only now beginning to appear. Many famous Americans have been LGBTQ, yet when their names appear in textbooks or histories, their sexuality is never discussed. Their love lives—and sex lives—are never mentioned. If we are erased from the history books, then how can we ever know who we are? This absence, this erasure, denies us the right and the ability to use our history as a guide, to feel pride in the heroism and accomplishments of the LGBTQ people who came before us.
—Michael Bronski, adapted by Richie Chevat
Most historical accounts of the LGBTQ movement have focused on activism directed at government actors, with the aim of explaining how the movement sought either to end discrimination by the government itself or to persuade public officials to prohibit privatesector discrimination. But it is not possible to have a complete and accurate picture of what the American LGBTQ rights movement has been able to achieve since the Stonewall riots without understanding how and why the movement targeted large corporations as a means to advance LGBTQ civil rights.
—Carlos A. Ball
This burning curiosity about other boys, I figured, would pass . . . . Whatever it was, I didn’t know what to do with it, and I told myself that the feelings would all fade away. The dashikis and clumsy Afrocentric rhetoric would disguise the desire, distract me from it, or maybe erase it altogether.
Verbal and physical attacks on Black lesbian feminists may seem surprising to some, as if they belong to a less enlightened era, but they are predictable in times of our high activity and visibility. Regardless of the risk, however, we Black queer and trans women have been on the front lines of anti-police and Black liberation organizing in the United States. We have been there after Black men and boys have been slain by police officers and vigilantes. We have shown up, even when masses have not, after a Black woman, girl, or trans, or queer, or gender-nonconforming person has been killed. And we will continue to show up. What we choose to support and oppose defines our politics.
—Charlene A. Carruthers
Would you recognize someone as transgender if that person didn’t tell you? Most people think they would. But they would be wrong. Many transgender people live “stealth,” at least to the general public, telling only those they are close to about their identities. For centuries, long before hormone therapies or gender-reassignment surgeries, there were people whose cross-gendered lives were not known until their deaths. Today, thousands of transgender Americans go about their lives with few people knowing that they are transgender.
—Laura Erickson-Schroth and Laura A Jacobs