Each June, the Penn Libraries joins the Library of Congress and many other organizations to celebrate Pride Month, initially established in this month to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. Pride Month is a great time to recognize the many contributions that LGBTQ+ individuals have made to society. Penn’s librarians have curated a variety of stories and informational materials for the exploration and celebration of LGBTQ+ identities. You can also find great queer reading suggestions at the Penn LGBT Center Library.
You can find the selections highlighted below, and many more, on display on the first floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, next to New Books.
Note: The descriptions below are collected from publishers and edited for brevity and clarity.
Experimental Love: Poetry by Cheryl Clarke
Cheryl Clarke is perhaps the pre-eminent African-American lesbian poet writing today. With a heady command of language and the ability to work in a variety of forms, she continues her thematic explorations of love objects and death subjects. Today, Clarke is the director of the Office of Diverse Community Affairs and Lesbian-Gay Concerns at Rutgers University. Learn more about her through the Academy of American Poets. This book is part of the Penn Libraries’ Joanna Banks Collection of African American Books.
Gender Euphoria: Stories of Joy from Trans, Non-binary and Intersex Writers edited by Laura Kate
Gender euphoria: a powerful feeling of happiness experienced as a result of moving away from one’s birth-assigned gender. In this groundbreaking anthology, 19 transgender, non-binary, agender, gender-fluid, and intersex writers share their experiences of gender euphoria: an agender dominatrix being called “Daddy,” an Arab trans man getting his first tattoos, a trans woman embracing her inner fighter. What they have in common are their feelings of elation, pride, confidence, freedom, and ecstasy as a direct result of coming out as non-cisgender, and how coming to terms with their gender has brought unimaginable joy into their lives.
Black Masculinity and Hip-hop Music: Black Gay Men Who Rap by Xinling Li
This book offers an interdisciplinary study of hip-hop music written and performed by rappers who happen to be out gay Black men. It examines the storytelling mechanisms of gay-themed lyrics, and how these form protests and become enabling tools for (Black) gay men to discuss issues such as living on the downlow and HIV/AIDS. The book makes a strong case that it is possible for individuals (like gay rappers) to perform masculinity against masculinity, and to open up a new way of striving for gender equality.
Documenting Rebellions: A Study of Four Lesbian and Gay Archives in Queer Times by Rebecka Taves Sheffield
This book is the result of a five-year project that began in 2012 and builds on the author’s own experience working with lesbian and gay archives. Documenting Rebellions is a study of four archives that were constituted with a common desire to preserve the memory and evidence of lesbian and gay people: The Lesbian Herstory Archives (New York), The ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives (Los Angeles), the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives (West Hollywood), and the ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives (Toronto). Using a narrative approach that draws from first-person accounts and archival research, each chapter tells a story about how these organizations came to exist, who has supported them over time, and how they have survived for more than 40 years.
Sporting Gender: The History, Science, and Stories of Transgender and Intersex Athletes by Joanna Harper
Sporting Gender provides an in-depth examination of why gender diverse athletes are so controversial, delving into the history of these athletes and their personal stories as well as explaining the science behind their gender diversity — and how that should be used when evaluating sports performance — in a highly accessible manner. Harper’s perspective is both broad in scope and yet detailed enough to grasp the nuances that are central in understanding the controversies over intersex and transgender athletes. Featuring personal investigations from the author, who has had first-person access to some of the most significant recent developments in this complex arena, this book provides fascinating insight into sex, gender, and sports.
Kena and Ziki live very different lives in Nairobi. Kena works in her father's shop and awaits the start of nursing school, while Ziki passes the days hanging out with her friends and making up dance routines. Their paths cross when their fathers run against each other for seats in the County Assembly, and they find themselves drawn to each other. Soon their interest grows to affection and the girls find ways to love each other despite the ever-watching gaze of the neighborhood.
The Children’s Hour
In this provocatively daring 1961 film starring Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn, longtime friends Martha and Karen run a boarding school for girls. When an unruly child, Mary, is punished for lying, she concocts a story that Karen and Martha are having a lesbian relationship. When the story spreads, parents withdraw their children from the school and the women sue for libel. The story's tragic ending is a demonstration of common tropes associated with queer characters.
The Celluloid Closet
Narrated by Lily Tomlin, this documentary serves up a dazzling hundred-year history of gay men and women on the silver screen. The film highlights the historical contexts that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people have occupied in cinema history, and shows the evolution of the entertainment industry's role in shaping perceptions of LGBT figures. Prominent actors who portrayed queer characters — including Shirley MacLaine from The Children’s Hour, referenced above — share their personal experiences and memories.
It's Christmas Eve in Tinseltown and transgender sex worker Sin-Dee is back on the block. Upon hearing that her boyfriend hasn't been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, Sin-Dee and her best friend, Alexandra embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles.
Sam and Tusker, partners of 20 years, are traveling across England in their old camper van visiting friends, family, and places from their past. Following a life-changing diagnosis, their time together has become more important than ever until secret plans test their love like never before. The 2021 film stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci.