Beyond Pride Month: LGBTQIA+ History in Its Own Words

Tessa Staff Image

So you’ve perused our Pride Month displays, pored over our booklists, explored our LGBTQIA+ Staff Picks, maybe taken part in our June Virtual Book Club with a selection by a nonbinary author. Just like any of the big monthly celebrations – Black History month, Women’s History month, etc. – Pride month should be a starting point for exploration and interest rather than a self-contained celebration.

While the big social media networks continue to be criticized for being unsafe for LGBTQIA+ users, and of shadowbanning LGBTQIA+ accounts, that is all the more reason to seek out the content that LGBTQIA+ creators produce. Here are my suggestions for putting more queer history into your feed and your daily life, along with connections to our collection.

Podcast:

The Log Books

This podcast, currently with two seasons, explores the log books of Switchboard, a helpline for LGBTQIA+ individuals in the UK that began in 1974. The hosts, who volunteer at Switchboard, bring out themes from the entries in the log books, and often find the original volunteers to narrate their own stories and interactions with the people who called in for help, support and advice. Each episode is fairly short and as a whole the podcast is a compelling look into recent history, and begs reflection on queer life today. It also illuminates British gay history, which is not so often explored as here in the USA.

At CLP, you can watch Queerama: A Century of Gay Right and Desires on Film directed by Daisy Asquith, a documentary of queer British cinema, and read “Queer City: Gay London From the Romans to the Present Day” by Peter Ackroyd. More suggestions on this topic can be found in this blog post from Penguin Random House: “How books are revealing a new queer history of the UK.”

Instagram Accounts: 

The AIDS Memorial 

Photo of a smiling man in uniform from the AIDS Memorial Instagram account
Source for photo: The AIDS Memorial on Instagram

 

The spread of AIDS had a profound effect on the gay community and resulted in even more hate and fear directed towards gay people, as well as the added stigma of the disease. It’s hard to quantify the impact so many deaths had, and the Instagram account of The National AIDS Memorial is a heartbreaking and loving reminder of the incalculable loss. It features personal stories and pictures of the victims of AIDS (and sometimes the survivors!). This is the same organization that maintains the AIDS quilt, another powerful physical reminder of the human loss of the disease – Historic Pittsburgh has a photo of when the Quilt visited Pittsburgh in 1987.

To read more about the AIDS epidemic, check out “Let the Record Show: a Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993” by Sarah Schulman, or the classic “And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic” by Randy Shilts.

Two local organizations still working to help those with HIV/AIDS are Allies Pittsburgh and AIDS Free Pittsburgh.

Alok Vaid-Menon 

Alok Vaid-Menon is a poet and artist, and advocate for the trans and nonbinary community. Their Instagram is the place to find, among other things, their book reviews and recommendations, concisely presented in slide format. The account is truly a place of beauty, kindness and learning, and a must-follow.

The cover for the book, "Beyond the Gender Binary" by Alok Vaid-Menon

They have also written a book, “Beyond the Gender Binary,” which is available through the Library. And if you’ve already watched “Paris Is Burning” or just finished “Pose,” and want to see more of the historic roots of Trans life, watch the 1968 documentary “The Queen” directed by Frank Simon – a look into a Drag Pageant where the winner seems to be fixed.

Locally, SisTers Pittsburgh is the organization doing the work to support and uplift QTBIPOC people in our community through housing, advocacy and more. This year they hosted a Virtual Pride, and have big plans for next year. True T Pittsburgh, another organization, celebrates queer people of color with creative events and activism.

LGBT History 

A photo of a group of young Black men from the LGBT History Instagram account
Source for photo: LGBT History on Instagram

 

Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown are the couple behind Queer History, the website, and the Instagram account LGBT History – a treasure trove of photographs documenting the history of queer people. This Instagram account draws out details and stories of all parts of the queer community and honors them.

In fact, it inspired a physical book: “We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation,” that can be checked out from your local library!

Read this article from Public Source to see what a local blogger is doing to preserve the stories of LGBTQIA+ elders in Pittsburgh, and why it is important.

Archival Collection: 

ONE Archives 

The ONE Archives supports the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California (USC) Libraries, the largest repository of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) materials in the world. Their collection can be explored through the USC Digital Library.

To read more about LGBTQIA+ history through interviews and archival materials, check out “Pride: The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement: A Photographic Journey” by Christopher Measom, or “The Stonewall Reader,” edited by the New York Public Library.

Locally, take a look at the work of Harrison Apple to preserve Pittsburgh’s Queer History, and delve into this guide to gay magazines and publications in decades past, put together by the University of Pittsburgh Libraries.

For more suggestions for library materials illuminating the histories and stories of LGBTQIA+ people, I’ve put together a Staff Picks to go along with this blog.

You can sign up for a free library card here. If you are new to our eResources, check out these tutorial videos on how to get started. If you have any additional questions, you can contact a librarian through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also call us at 412.622.3114 or email us at info@carnegielibrary.org.

Rainbow LGBTQIA Pride PGHREADS banner

Read Proud: Explore LGBTQIA+ Booklists

Learn More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *