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Celebrating LGBTQ+ history month through books.

by Matthew Cornford
Celebrating LGBTQ+ history month through books.

Every February, people all around the world come together to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month. This is a time for us to reflect on our past and honour the generations of brave individuals who came before us, from activists to allies, who have made it possible for us to live openly and authentically today. Reading can be an important part of this engagement, allowing us to further understand our history and what it means for our present.

Why Read During LGBTQ+ History Month?

Reading is one of the best ways we can learn more about our history as a community. It allows us to engage with stories that may not have been told before and gives us insight into how we got here today. Reading offers an opportunity to learn more about key figures and events in the development of LGBTQ+ rights in the UK and around the globe. We are able to dive into topics such as political activism, medical advancements, social movements, and cultural changes over time. By reading, we can gain a better understanding of what it means to be a part of this community today.

 Stonewall image

Books That Tell Our Story

There are many books out there on LGBTQ+ history that offer readers an engaging look at different aspects of our past. From biographies about historical figures or activists to comprehensive surveys of laws or policies related to LGBTQ+ rights over time, there is something for everyone when it comes to learning more about our past during this month. Some examples include “PRIDE” by Matthew Todd; “Outrageous” by Paul Baker; “Trans Britain by Christine Burns; or “The Stonewall Reader” by Jason Baumann.

LGBTQ History Month is an important celebration for all members of this community - both those who know their own histories well and those who may be new to exploring them alike! Reading is one way we can engage with these stories and learn more about how far we have come over time - both as individuals and collectively - towards achieving equality for all members of our community worldwide! Let’s take some time this month to remember those who paved the way before us while also looking ahead towards a brighter future ahead!


The Story of the LGBTQ Equality Movement

In June 1969, police raided New York gay bar the Stonewall Inn. Pride charts the events of that night, the days and nights of rioting that followed, the ensuing organization of local members of the community - and the 50 years since in which activists and ordinary people have dedicated their lives to reversing the global position. Pride documents the milestones in the fight for LGBTQ equality, from the victories of early activists to the passing of legislation barring discrimination, and the gradual acceptance of the LGBTQ community in politics, sport, culture and the media.

Rare images and documents cover the seminal moments, events and breakthroughs of the movement, while personal testimonies share the voices of key figures on a broad range of topics. Pride is a unique celebration of LGBTQ culture, an account of the ongoing challenges facing the community, and a testament to the equal rights that have been won for many as a result of the passion and determination of this mass movement. A fully updated edition of Matthew Todd's essential 2019 book, Pride is a celebration and a clarion call.


The Story of Section 28 and Britain's Battle for LGBT Education.
A personal and impassioned history of the infamous Section 28, the 1988 UK law banning the teaching "of the acceptability of homosexuality."

On May 23, 1988, Paul Baker sat down with his family to eat cake on his sixteenth birthday while The Six O'Clock News played in the background. But something was not quite right. There was muffled shouting--"Stop Section 28!"--and a scuffle. The papers would announce: "Beeb Man Sits on Lesbian."

The next day Section 28 passed into UK law, forbidding local authorities from the teaching "of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship." It would send shockwaves through British society: silencing gay pupils and teachers, while galvanizing mass protests and the formation of the LGBTQ+ rights groups OutRage! and Stonewall.

Outrageous! tells its story: the background to the Act, how the press fanned the flames and what politicians said during debates, how protestors fought back to bring about the repeal of the law in the 2000s, and its eventual legacy. Based on detailed research, interviews with key figures--including Ian McKellen, Michael Cashman, and Angela Mason--and personal recollection, Outrageous! is an impassioned, warm, often moving account of unthinkable prejudice enshrined within the law and of the power of community to overcome it.


Our Journey from the Shadows

Over the last five years, transgender people have seemed to burst into the public eye: Time declared 2014 a 'trans tipping point', while American Vogue named 2015 'the year of trans visibility'. From our television screens to the ballot box, transgender people have suddenly become part of the zeitgeist. This apparently overnight emergence, though, is just the latest stage in a long and varied history.

The renown of Paris Lees and Hari Nef has its roots in the efforts of those who struggled for equality before them, but were met with indifference - and often outright hostility - from mainstream society. Trans Britain chronicles this journey in the words of those who were there to witness a marginalised community grow into the visible phenomenon we recognise today: activists, film-makers, broadcasters, parents, an actress, a rock musician and a priest, among many others. Here is everything you always wanted to know about the background of the trans community, but never knew how to ask.


For the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, an anthology chronicling the tumultuous fight for LGBTQ rights in the 1960s and the activists who spearheaded it. June 28, 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising - the most significant event in the gay liberation movement and the catalyst for the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States. Drawing from the New York Public Library's archives, The Stonewall Reader is a collection of first hand accounts, diaries, periodic literature and articles from LGBTQ magazines and newspapers that documented both the years leading up to and the years following the riots. Most importantly, this anthology shines a light on forgotten figures who were pivotal in the movement, such as Lee Brewster, head of the Queens Liberation Front and Ernestine Eckstine, one of the few out, African American, lesbian activists in the 1960s.





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