What does your celebration look like this month? If you said “reading and critically thinking between spontaneous dance parties,” oh boy are we on the same page! In the last post, we talked about how racism and injustice are connected to Pride, along with how to learn to be anti-racist. When we look at the 50th anniversary of Pride on the Library of Congress website, we can look at how Pride (as it looks today) started, with what is now called the Stonewall Uprising. In 1969, it was illegal in NY to serve alcohol to gay people, and police used that legality as an excuse to raid gay bars and assault the LGBTQ patrons (unjust laws sounding familiar to anyone else?). After continued police brutality, members of the LGBTQ community organized against the injustice (also familiar, yes?). Two prominent figures you may have heard about are Marsha P. Johnson (a Black trans woman) and Sylvia Rivera (a Latina trans woman). We owe them a lot! As a queer white person, I can see how I benefit daily from the hard work of LGBTQ people of color, so I want to know more about my community’s history. Since we know that anti-racism is inherent to learning queer history, reading books is a great first step.
The next step is to engage in “critical self-reflection,” according to Dr. Nicole Cooke, a Black librarian. This step involves discomfort. Discomfort will happen when we listen to marginalized voices and when we think about how we benefit from racism. Remember we’re in a marathon, not a sprint. Take each article/book you use as a tool and sit with it. Let’s use me as an example. I need to look at Dr. Cooke’s Anti-racism Resources for All Ages, and pick one. Then I read it. Then I think about it. I can think about how I might not have previously believed the experiences of Black people, Indigenous people and people of color. I can think about how phrases I use casually have a history of being used to control and hurt them (I said #9 a lot when I returned to the building and saw my coworkers for the first time in months). Or maybe I think about how I didn’t speak up when my colleague make an offensive comment — or how I did speak up but it only made me feel better and didn’t help* my colleague learn about being anti-racist.
For Pride month, I can also pick a title by a queer Black author and read it like I’m preparing for book club…which I am! For Queer Tales Book Club, we’re reading Tee Franklin’s Bingo Love, which is spectacular and emotional and has amazing art and is about experiences beyond my own. But instead of just offering compliments about the book and the author, I can engage in a more meaningful way by asking discussion questions about the material within the context of 2020. We’re talking about it this Sunday at 4pm over Zoom, so I hope you join us. (In person meetings will resume as soon as we survive the pandemic!)
The previous Pride list was of fiction books, so here are some nonfiction books. I made these lists during quarantine where the only access to books was to purchase them (no thanks) or read them digitally, so please keep that in mind when you look for them in the physical collection. If you want a physical title, my coworker compiled a display of books for Pride on the 2nd floor in Adult Services (my department!), and also there are lists for all ages on the new topic page for Pride on the TADL website.
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin
Care Work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Ordinary girls by Jaquira Díaz
Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Brown White Black by Nishta J. Mehra
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
Nature Poem by Tommy Pico
Death Threat by Vivek Shraya and Ness Lee
Is This How You See Me? by Jaime Hernandez
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen
A Place called No Homeland by Kai Cheng Thom
Bios from Queer Eye hosts: Tan France, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, and no book yet from Bobby Berk.
Now that the library is back to being open to the public, we will be posting twice a month instead of weekly. Don’t see something you’d like to read? We have a digital suggestion box for that.
Till next time,
Pride at 50
Marsha P. Johnson
Publishers Weekly Article by Dr. Nicole Cooke
Anti-racism Resources for All Ages by Dr. Cooke
TADL Topic: Racial Equity
TADL Topic: Pride
Polestar LGBT+ Community Center on Facebook
Up North Pride on Facebook
*When I mean it didn’t help, I mean this specifically as a white person speaking to another white person. Otherwise, we get into tone policing, which is a tool we have learned to use when we don’t like the tone someone uses when they are correcting us. So we can move past the tone of voice and listen to the story of what the person is sharing with us.