Martin Duberman, a historian and National Book Award finalist, presents the definitive account of the infamous 1969 raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York City and the ensuing riots. Stonewall served as a flashpoint in the struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights, and the historic parade that followed in March of 1970 became the root of today’s pride marches. Pride Month itself is a commemoration of Stonewall, and this chronicle of an uprising is illuminating and profound.
He Said, She Said
Gigi Gorgeous’s raucous sense of humor, brilliant storytelling, and bare-it-all candor have made her a transgender icon. In this inspiring memoir, Gigi gives a glimpse into her life from a Canadian teen named Gregory to her transition, and all the heartbreak, milestones, and love in between. Told with Gigi’s trademark humor and warmth, this is a must-read.
We Are Everywhere
We Are Everywhere is a kaleidoscopic, photographic chronicle of the Queer Liberation Movement. Tracing the roots of queer activism from its earliest roots in late 19th-century Europe to the Stonewall Riots and today’s Pride marches, We Are Everywhere combines a meticulously researched narrative with more than 300 carefully curated photos.
The Stonewall Reader
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, The Stonewall Reader is an extraordinary anthology that draws on the archives of the New York Public Library to chronicle the tumultuous fight for LGBTQ rights in the 1960s. Built from firsthand accounts, diaries, and articles in queer magazines and newspapers, The Stonewall Reader charts both the years leading up to the Stonewall riots and the history-changing aftermath.
If you’re tuning in for HBO’s “Gentleman Jack,” be sure to check out the book that inspired the series. Anne Lister would have been an extraordinary character at any time, but her decision to live life on her terms and openly explore her sexuality in the 1800s makes hers a truly remarkable tale. Culled from Lister’s unpublished and only recently decrypted journal entries, Gentleman Jack is a fascinating read.
Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
One-part bildungsroman and one-part literary dive into gender theory, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is razor-sharp, raucous fantasy that you won’t be able to put down. Paul Polydoris has a secret: he’s a shapeshifter who can change his body and gender. He/her trips from Riot Grrl to leather cub in a restless adventure, through a world thrumming with complexity and connection. With their debut novel, Andrea Lawlor has created an intimate and wildly imaginative read.
Dustin Lance Black
Raised in a conservative Mormon household just outside San Antonio, Texas, it should come as no surprise that LGBTQ activist and filmmaker Dustin Lance Black had a complex relationship with his mother. When he came out to her at age 22, she called his sexuality a “sinful choice.” The rift nearly tore their relationship apart, but they persevered and managed to bridge this seemingly insurmountable divide. Mama’s Boy is their story.
With Unbound, sociologist Arlene Stein tells the stories of of four strangers who have traveled to a Florida surgeon to masculinize their chest. She follows Ben, Nadia, Lucas, and Parker over the course of a year, and in that time unearths valuable insights in a young generation of transgender individuals and gender nonconformists challenging the conceptions and traditional notions of gender.
Fifty years after its initial publication, Gore Vidal’s masterful satire remains a whip-smart, ferocious classic. Myra is an instructor of Empathy and Posture at Buck Loner’s Academy of Drama and Modeling. She also has a secret: she was once Myron, and she’s about to turn Hollywood and its heteronormative culture upside down.
When Katie Met Cassidy
Katie Daniels is a recent Kentucky transplant to New York reeling from a recent breakup with her fiancé. She had little idea what to expect when Cassidy Price entered her life—Cassidy was sexy, self-assured, and wearing a men’s suit. When straight-laced Katie finds herself in a lesbian dive bar frequented by Cassidy, unexpected sparks fly, and life may never be the same for either woman.
In this fascinating memoir, actor and LGTBQIA+ advocate Nico Tortorella gives readers a raw and candid look into their life and personal journey. Tortorella spent years grappling with their sense of identity and place, eventually spiraling into addiction and self-destructive behavior. When they began to explore the fluidity of sexuality and gender, Tortorella got clean, found love, and began to embrace what they describe as that space between—a space of love, identity, and acceptance.
Too Much Is Not Enough
Andrew Rannells is best known for his starring turn in Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” and HBO’s “Girls,” and with his memoir, Rannells shares the ups and downs of his own coming of age. Rannells’s tale is the classic story of a Midwestern boy chasing his dream in New York City and taking the chance to reinvent himself from an ambitious but sexually confused teenager to the Broadway leading man he’s always wanted to be.
Set against the glamorous backdrop of the Italian Riviera in the 1950s, Leading Men charts the love story of legendary playwright Tennessee Williams and his longtime partner Frank Merlo. Spanning decades, the story carries readers from the decadent party scene of the Riveria to Merlo’s deathbed in Manhattan, and on to a present-day mystery that ties it all together in a seamless blend of fact and fiction.
The Bold World
Inspired by the journey of her transgender son, Jodie Patterson was forced to rethink her every conception of gender, race, and identity. Realizing that the community she had cultivated her entire life wasn’t wide enough for the needs of her child, Patterson pushed the world around her to grow to meet those needs. The Bold World is an inspiring and affirming story of love, acceptance, and understanding.
Tomorrow Will Be Different
At just 26, Sarah McBride became the first transgender person to speak at a national political convention when she appeared at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. For years, Sarah struggled with her identity and the decision to come out. After making the decision to come out publicly, she found acceptance, success, and ultimately a love that was tragically cut short. Sarah’s story is a moving chronicle of love and loss.
Through a combination of irreverent humor and remarkable insight, Sissy will reshape the way you think about gender and society’s gender-based perceptions. From early days of bullying and being labeled a “sissy” to working his way through Duke University and his hard-fought road to activism, Jacob Tobia’s story is both heart-wrenching and wildly funny, vulnerable and candid.
Eleanor and Hick
Eleanor and Hick is the extraordinary account of the relationship—a love affair, a friendship, mutual support—between First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and political reporter Lorena Hickock. Over the course of 13 years, Hick had her own room in the White House next to the First Lady’s. Their relationship would shape the course of each other’s lives and, in many ways, have a profound effect on the world around them.
The Great Believers
Shifting its narrative between the devastating AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and present day, The Great Believers is a powerful exploration of loss, redemption, and the ways grief impacts our lives. Yale Tishman works at an art gallery in Chicago as the AIDS crisis grips the city. As his friends die one by one, he finds solace in a friendship with a young girl named Fiona, the little sister of a friend lost to AIDS. Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris attempting to track down her estranged daughter, while finally grappling with the lasting impact the AIDS crisis and her brother’s death had on her life.
When James Smale finally manages to sell his novel to an editor—none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis—he’s elated. For her part, Jackie adores James’s candid, autobiographical novel. However, the book’s publication threatens to unravel the already tenuous relationships in James’s life, including with his partner. When Jackie encourages him to return home and discover an authentic ending, a long-held family secret will lead James on a journey he never expected.
The Paying Guests
Set in 1922 London, The Paying Guests centers around Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances. The Wrays agree to take a young couple, Lilian and Leonard Barber, as boarders. They had no way of knowing the profound impact the couple would have on their lives, or the passions they would awaken in Frances. Nor could they have anticipated how far-reaching and devastating the disturbance to their lives would be.
If You Come Softly
This 20th anniversary edition of the classic novel is a perfect read for fans of The Hate U Give. In the lyrical and moving star-crossed-lovers story, Jeremiah feels deeply out of place in his fancy Manhattan prep school. It’s a surprise when he meets Elle. Their attraction is instantaneous, even though he’s Black and she’s Jewish. With the rest of the world—and their very different communities—in their way, will their love be enough?
She Wants It
When their parent came out as transgender, Jill Solloway made the decision to use their voice to change the male-dominated television landscape, and “Transparent” was born. She Wants It charts Jill’s own extraordinary journey from a straight, married mother of two to identifying as queer and non-binary. Filled with the sharp humor and humanity that has defined their television career, She Wants It is a must-read.
Amy Ellis Nutt
This New York Times bestseller from Pulitzer-winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt follows the Maines family and their transgender daughter Nicole’s transition. The Maines adopted identical twins, Jonas and Wyatt, as toddlers. Their confusion and dismay over Wyatt’s insistence that he was a girl nearly tore the family apart. But as they struggled with realigning their conceptions of gender and identity, they slowly healed the fractures and helped Nicole transition.
With Pride Month in full swing, we’re on the precipice of a potentially monumental shift in the way our society understands gender and identity. But it has been a long, dangerous, and often tragic road. While we’re still a long way from where we should be, a necessary conversation on the issues of gender, identity, and sexuality is beginning to take place. Fifty years after the Stonewall Riots, Pride Parades and celebrations are taking place across the country, and a younger generation is pulling us all toward a better understanding of the queer community and the fluidity of gender.
Whether you’re like me—a cishet ally seeking to better understand the LGBTQIA+ community—or if you simply want to celebrate and reflect on far society has come, how much was lost to get here, and how much further we have to go, this list is a great place to start.
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