Pride month is a time of celebration, a time for taking joy in our gender and sexual diversity, but it is also a time of history and remembrance. We are only able to openly take pride in ourselves because of all the very literal blood, sweat and tears put in by our forebears. All too often, those forebears are white washed, and we primarily hear the stories of cis and white gay men and lesbians, when the queer liberation movement as we know it began on the backs of trans and gender nonconforming (GNC) people of color, particularly trans women.
There are so many ways to explore the experiences and contributions of trans and GNC folks, and especially those of color, to queer rights and Pride. Many of those ways go beyond the traditional library catalog, or rather, a pandemic-era library catalog, either because they are dynamic websites and blogs rather than books, or because they are videos either not available for streaming, or not available for streaming through library platforms. However, with just a little extra work, an entire world of creative, impassioned activists and queer figures opens up, both from history and those doing great work today! That world is well worth exploring and understanding, and you can kick off your exploration with these great resources.
If you’d like to read about trans and queer history, why not start by checking out the books and articles below:
Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity, by C. Riley Snorton
This book explores the intersectionality of gender and racial identity in history.
Histories of the Transgender Child
This text explores the lives of trans and gender nonconforming children historically, with an emphasis on intersectionality and the ways that race and racism play into gender issues.
The Stonewall Reader
This comprehensive history of Stonewall forefronts primary documents and the voices of queer people of color, including many mentioned in other parts of this resource collection. The original audio recordings of many instrumental figures in the queer rights movement make this an especially revealing and powerful work.
Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray by Rosalind Rosenberg
This biography profiles Pauli Murray, a civil rights activist, one of the earliest advocates for an intersectional approach to struggling against the worlds’ “isms”, and someone who today might very well have lived as a trans man, but who was denied hormone treatments as a child.
Sir Lady Java
This article profiles Sir Lady Java, a performer in the late 60s and 70s who campaigned against an anti-crossdressing regulation in Los Angeles called Rule No. 9
This article profiles Miss Major, who has been instrumental in the queer and trans rights movement since the Stonewall era, and is still active today.
Tracey “Africa” Norman
This article explores Tracey “Africa” Norman, who was the first black trans model that we know of, and who had her face on boxes of Clairol in the 70s, far before she publicly came out as trans.
This article profiles Stormé DeLarverie, an instrumental figure in the Stonewall uprising and long time queer activist.
The House of Xtravaganza
This full website is dedicated to the history of the House of Xtravaganza, one of the most influential houses from the queer NY ballroom movement that began in the 80s.
If you’re interested in the writing and activism of current trans creators and activists of color, check out the blogs, websites, and books below:
Janet Mock is powerhouse creator, the author of two memoirs shown below, a television writer and director, and a tireless activist. Read her essays, listen to her podcast, and keep up with what she’s doing now on her blog.
Imara Jones is a black trans woman and an incisive sociocultural and economic analyst who writes and creates podcasts and videos on a wide range of topics, always with a primary focus on separating right from wrong.
This is the blog of Monica Roberts, who is, in her own words, a “proud unapologetic Black trans woman speaking truth to power and discussing the world around her since 2006.”
This is the no-longer updated website of trans activist and creator Reina Gosset, who now goes by Tourmaline and is the creative force behind the short film Happy Birthday Marsha, linked below in the video section. While this blog is no longer updated and she primarily uses Tourmaline Productions as her online home base, the archives of this blog are filled with insightful essays and historical profiles and documents, such as this early 70s interview with Marsha P. Johnson during her time leading STAR , the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, one of the earliest grassroots nonprofit organizations dedicated to the welfare of queer, trans, and gender nonconforming folks struggling on the streets.
Elle Hearns is a speaker, organizer, and strategist, and a co-founding member of the Black Lives Matter movement. Explore her work on her website.
Kylar W. Broadus, Esq.
Kylar W. Broadus Esq. is a black trans man and a lawyer, activist, professor, author, and public speaker. To check out what he’s doing now and explore his past work, check out his website.
Tiq Milan is a public speaker, model, activist, and content creator. Check out his work and what he’s doing now at his website.
Transgender Gender-variant and Intersex Justice Project
The TGI Project is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to, in its own words, “forge[ing] a culture of resistance and resilience to strengthen us for the fight against human rights abuses, imprisonment, police violence, racism, poverty, and societal pressures.”
Trans Women of Color Collective
This organization is dedicated, in its own words, to “uplifting the narratives, leadership, and lived experiences of trans people of color – While building towards the collective liberation of all oppressed people.” Check out their work at their website.
Check out this poem by black trans poet, activist, and politician Andrea Jenkins. If you’d like to read about her election to the Minneapolis city council several years ago, check out this article.
If you enjoy watching as much as or more than reading, take a look at these videos and documentaries. Some of them are viewable free-of-charge, while others require you to pay to view them, but if you are able to do so, consider supporting the creators and stories that help form the backbone of the queer community.
Still Black, a Portrait of Black Trans Men
A 2008 documentary film about black trans men
A 2016 documentary created by Jac Gares, Laverne Cox, and Cece McDonald chronicling MCDonald’s experience with the criminal justice system after defending herself against a hate crime attack.
Treasure: From Tragedy to Trans Justice, Mapping a Detroit Story
A 2015 documentary that tells the story of Shelly “Treasure” Hillard, who was part of a vibrant and supportive trans community, but who died violently in a 2011 hate crime.
Pay it No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson
This free hour-long documentary profiles Marsha P. Johnson.
Happy Birthday Marsha
This short film explores the life of Marsha P. Johnson and her contributions to Stonewall and the queer rights movement.
This website showcases the work of Reina Gosset, the creative force behind Happy Birthday Marsha, and other films highlighting queer and trans stories.
A fiction web series that follows the lives of two trans women as they explore new love.
Paris is Burning
A seminal 1990 documentary that explores the ballroom scene of the 1980s, which was a source of pride, found family, and creative expression for trans and gender nonconforming black and latinx folks in New York City. If you’ve ever wondered where “throwing shade” or voguing on the dance floor came from, let this powerful film illuminate an often-overlooked piece of history.
Pose is a full-length fiction web series exploring the New York ballroom scene of the late 80s. In many ways, it is a fictional tribute to and the spiritual offspring of Paris is Burning. You can also find it on Netflix.
A Stormė Life
This short video profiles Stormė Delarverie, a drag performer and activist often credited with throwing the first punch at Stonewall.
Making Gay History: Marsha P. Johnson & Randy Wicker
This is a podcast episode rather than a video, but it profiles the contributions of Marsha P. Johnson, as well as those of Randy Wicker, to the Pride movement.