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Penn Libraries News

June Featured Books and DVDs: Pride (2022)

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Happy Pride Month, University of Pennsylvania community! Summer break is the perfect time to explore and celebrate the many identities and experiences that are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Penn’s LGBT Center will be kicking off their Pride activities with a Queer Dance Class on Friday, June 3 , and will be hosting special events throughout the month. In the meantime, LGBT Center staff provided the Penn Libraries with the following recommendations, each of which offers an an inspiring and enriching reading or watching experience. 

The entire collection of featured books and DVDs can be found on the first floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center.  

Note: The descriptions below are collected from publishers and edited for brevity and clarity.  

Books 

Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place 

When Neema Avashia tells people where she’s from, their response is nearly always a disbelieving “There are Indian people in West Virginia?” Another Appalachia examines both the roots and the resonance of Avashia’s identity as a queer desi Appalachian woman, while encouraging readers to envision more complex versions of both Appalachia and the nation as a whole. 

LGBT Center review: Intimate essays capturing a non-white/male/cisgender/heterosexual experience of a place and identities that are still too frequently stereotyped and misunderstood. 

Female Husbands: A Trans History 

Long before people identified as transgender or lesbian, there were female husbands - people assigned female who lived as men and married women. Female Husbands weaves the story of their lives as queer pioneers in relation to broader social, economic, and political developments while also exploring how attitudes toward female husbands shifted in relation to transformations in gender politics and women's rights. 

LGBT Center review: Be enthralled by stories of people assigned female who lived as men and married women, while also learning about US and UK gender(ed) history before the early 20th century, when women’s rights and changing gender mores nullified the construct of female husbands. 

LGBTQ Social Movements 

This book provides an accessible introduction to mainstream LGBTQ movements in the US, illustrating the many forms that LGBTQ activism has taken since the mid-20th century. It explores how marginalized people and communities have used a wide range of political and cultural tools to demand and create change. 

LGBT Center review: Well written review of the US LGBT movement focusing on 1) liberation versus assimilation, 2) legal change, 3) popular culture and the arts, 4) social movement overlap, and 5) privilege in movement organizing. 

Trans Studies: The Challenge to Hetero/Homo Normativities 

This interdisciplinary essay collection brings together leading experts in this burgeoning field and offers insights about how transgender activism and research might transform scholarship and public policy. Taking an intersectional approach, this theoretically sophisticated book deeply grounded in real-world concerns bridges the gaps between activism and academia by offering examples of cutting-edge activism, research, and pedagogy. 

LGBT Center review: Essay collection focusing on lived concerns through theory, which connects activism and academia in an approachable way. 

Queer Public History: Essays on Scholarly Activism 

This essay collection charts the evolution of queer historical interventions in the academic sphere and explores the development of publicly-oriented queer historical scholarship. A manifesto for renewed partnerships between academic and community-based historians, strengthened linkages between queer public history and LGBT scholarly activism, and increased public support for historical research on gender and sexuality, this anthology reconsiders and reimagines the past, present, and future of queer public history. 

LGBT Center review: Collection of historian Marc Stein’s essays from the 1980s until today, stressing the important link between community and academic historians. 

DVDs 

Making Sweet Tea 

This documentary chronicles the journey of southern-born, Black gay researcher and performer E. Patrick Johnson as he travels home to North Carolina to come to terms with his past, and to Georgia, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. to reconnect with several Black gay men he interviewed for his book, Sweet Tea. Johnson transformed that book into several staged plays over the course of a decade, and the film combines footage from his past performances of the men with documentary moments from their lives a decade after the book's publication. 

LGBT Center review: Engrossing documentary about a Black gay academic/artist going back home to the South where he faces both his past and the lives of the Black gay men whose stories he studies and performs.  

Pariah 

The path to living as one’s authentic self is paved with trials and tribulations in this coming-of-age tale. Pariah follows Brooklyn teenager Alike, who is navigating the emotional minefields of first love and heartache and the disapproval of her family as she expresses her gender and sexual identities within a system that does not make space for them. 

LGBT Center review: A coming-of-age tale not seen on screen before 2011. Follow a queer Black teen’s journey of embracing her gender expression and sexual identity, even as some of those close to her do not. 

Una Mujer Fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) 

With the sudden loss of her lover Orlando, Marina, a trans woman, confronts his family and society to show them she is strong and fantastic. In Spanish with English subtitles. 

LGBT Center review: Chilean film about a transgender singer whose older boyfriend dies and the aftermath of bigotry she faces while trying to mourn him. 

Welcome to Chechnya 

This film shadows a group of activists who risk unimaginable peril to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ pogrom raging in a repressive, closed Russian republic. The director uses a remarkable approach to anonymity to expose this atrocity and to tell the story of an extraordinary group of people confronting evil. 

LGBT Center review: One of the best investigative documentaries of this century, it follows LGBTQ+ activists who rescued survivors of torture from the Chechen gay purges. 

Ammonite 

In 1840s England, a wealthy visitor entrusts fossil hunter Mary with the care of his wife Charlotte. Proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, Mary initially clashes with her unwelcome guest, but despite the distance between their social class and personalities, an intense bond begins to develop, compelling the two women to determine the true nature of their relationship. 

LGBT Center review: Not your typical “nerdy lesbian meets woman married to a man and they fall for each other” period piece.