June is LGBT Pride Month! To celebrate, we’ve put together a selection of books written by and about LGBT individuals. Learn about some individual experiences within the LGBT community – in their own words.
“Let’s stop ‘tolerating’ or ‘accepting’ difference, as if we’re so much better for not being different. Instead, let’s celebrate difference, because in this world it takes a lot of guts to be different and to act differently.” – Kate Bornstein
“I didn’t really become a political person until I realized I was a lesbian. I was just this oblivious, middle-class white kid who didn’t understand the structures of power or oppression or anything. My very existence became politicized for me, and that’s what enabled me to see all these things.”
Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist, memoirist and is the author of the best-selling graphic-novel-memoir, Fun Home, which was adapted into a Broadway musical. The graphic focuses on Bechdel’s relationship with her father; she reflects on how her father’s closed-off and closeted life ultimately led to his suicide, while her open life as a lesbian allowed her a very different path of authenticity and happiness. Bechdel wrote a follow-up sequel in 2012, Are You My Mother, which focuses on her relationship with her mother through interwoven themes of psychoanalysis and literary works such as Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. Since winning the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2014, Bechdel is working on a forthcoming memoir, The Secret to Superhuman Strength.
Staceyann Chin is a slam poet, journalist and author of the memoir The Other Side of Paradise. Her memoir chronicles growing up in Jamaica, coming out as a lesbian in the face of prejudice and eventually following her move to Brooklyn, fighting to live a genuine life and finding her voice along the way.
“Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.”
Harvey Milk was an American politician and the first openly gay elected official in California. In 1978, while serving as city supervisor in San Francisco, Milk fought to successfully pass a gay rights ordinance. During his first year in office, Milk was assassinated by a former colleague. He left a lasting legacy as a visionary figure in LGBT history and the ongoing fights for both acceptance and equality.
You can learn more about Harvey Milk through: the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk; Milk’s mentee, Cleve Jones has a memoir, When We Rise: My Life in the Movement that highlights the impact of Milk in his own life and the larger gay liberation movement; the feature film Milk; and the brand-new children’s book Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag.
Jazz Jennings is a teenage LGBT rights activist, YouTuber and star of the reality series, I Am Jazz. She has written about her experiences growing up as a young transgender woman in both a children’s book I Am Jazz and a full-length memoir, Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen. Jazz is outspoken about her journey growing up and fighting to be herself.
Hannah Hart is a popular YouTuber and comedian, as well as author of the semi-cookbook My Drunk Kitchen: a Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with your Gut. Most recently, she released a memoir, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded. In all of her works, Hart focuses themes of friendship, personal growth, practicing “reckless optimism” – and following your heart.
“The struggle for true openness and intimacy is a lifelong struggle for all of us, gay and straight alike. And besides, a difficult life brings you to the core of yourself, where you learn what justice is and how it has to be fought for.”
Paul Monette was an acclaimed author and activist. In his memoir, Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, Monette shares his journey alongside his longtime partner, Roger, who struggled with and deteriorated from AIDS. His memoirs offer illuminating and heartbreaking realities of his life as a gay man in America throughout the AIDS epidemic and gay liberation movement. Monette’s insight and superb writing enhances his story within its larger cultural context.
“I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you.”
Janet Mock is a writer, TV host, and transgender rights activist. She wrote a memoir of her journeys as a public figure and transgender woman, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More, as well as Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me. Her books capture struggle, growth and joy throughout her life experiences.
Explore our catalog of films and books for every age, and learn more about LGBT history. Visit your local library to check out a few items and learn more about cultural diversity as we celebrate Pride Month this June.