Queer History & Fun Reads for Pride Month 🌈

Posted on June 1st, 2021 by

ALA Rainbow Book Month Header

Happy Pride Month! Or, at the library, Rainbow Book Month. Pride is celebrated in June each year to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a landmark event in the Gay Liberation Movement, which evolved into today’s LGBTQIA+ rights movements. This post highlights a few materials from the Gustavus Library collection that celebrate queer history, the present, and imagine the future.

If you would like to learn more (for personal research, reading for fun, or coursework), reach out to a librarian or visit the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies LibGuide!

 

Title page of a rare book with SCRB bookmark, which reads "Man Into Woman: An Authentic Record of a Change of Sex, the true story of the miraculous transformation of the Danish painter Einar Wegener (Andreas Sparre). Edited by Neils Hoyer, Translated from the German by H. J. Stenning, INtroduction by Norman Haire, Ch.M., M.B., With 18 Illustrations."

Title page for “Man Into Woman.”

Spine of a rare book titled Man into Woman, Edited by Niels Hoyer

Spine and cover of “Man into Woman”

First Edition of the Biography of Lili Elbe

You may have heard of Lili Elbe as the main character of the 2006 film The Danish Girl, known as one of the earliest recipients of gender reassignment surgery. She was a real person, and the semi-autobiographical account of her transition was published posthumously in 1933 as Man Into Woman: An Authentic Record of a Change of Sex, the true story of the miraculous transformation of the Danish painter Einar Wegener (Andreas Sparre).

Gustavus has a copy of this book in our Special Collections and Rare Books (SCRB) room. If you would like to view this book, just ask a member of library staff about access to the SCRB! This book contains 18 photographs and illustrations including images of Lili throughout her transition and reproductions of paintings by Lili and her wife, Gerda.

Photograph from "Man Into Woman" showing Lili Elbe with a friend. The caption reads, "Einar Wegener (Andreas Sparre) at the time he began to assume the name of Lili, and her friend Claude, Beugency, France, 1928 (Before the operation)."

Photograph of Lili Elbe and a friend in 1928 from “Man Into Woman.”

Photograph from "Man Into Woman" showing Lili Elbe in a garden. The caption reads: "Lili Elbe in the Women's Clinic, Dresden, 1930."

Photograph of Lili Elbe in 1930 from “Man Into Woman.”

In the 1930s there were no standards for how to respectfully refer to transgender people in print, but one of the most interesting aspects of this book is how the text transitions from using he/him pronouns and Lili’s birthname, Einar, to her chosen name of Lili and she/her pronouns as the narrative of her transition progresses. The text almost treats Einar and Lili as entirely different entities. Today,  the accepted standard would be to use a trans person’s chosen name and pronouns even when referring to them before their transition. The approach used in this book leads to some confusing sentences, like the caption of this photograph (left) which uses both names and pronouns to refer to Lili early in her transition. The caption reads: “Einar Wegener (Andreas Sparre) at the time he began to assume the name of Lili, and her friend Claude, Beugency, France, 1928 (Before the operation).”

Accessible Queer History

These books are heavy on the images, personal narratives, and queer figures that were probably left out of your high school history textbook.

Cover for "We Both Laughed in Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan, 1961-1991"

We Both Laughed in Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan, 1961-1991

Lou Sullivan is known as the first transgender man to publicly identify as gay. Selections from his diaries, published here for the first time in 2019, reveal the mundane and the radical in the life of a trans pioneer.

 

Cover for "Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime"

Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime

Alex Espinoza combines historical research and oral history to explore cruising subcultures from Greek antiquity to the present.

 

Cover for "Queer: a Graphic History"

Queer: A Graphic History

Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele break down the history of queer philisophy, including queer theory and feminist theory, along with their precursors like Freud and Kinsey, up to the present and current ideas about gender, sexuality, performativity, and privilege, all in a slim volume in accessible graphic novel format.

 

Cover for "Queer X Design"

Queer X Design: 50 years of signs, symbols, banners, logos, and graphic art of LGBTQ

In this highly visual book, Andrew Campbell walks us through LGBTQ history using graphic design, including underground magazines, shirts and buttons, protest signs, the first pride flag, corporate logos, the AIDS quilt, and many more.

Fun Reads

Add these popular queer fiction books to your summer reading pile!

Cover for Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This very popular New Adult romance follows First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz and his nemesis, British Prince Henry, as they stage a stage a fake friendship for the press to save international relations between their nations.

 

Cover for Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, navigates academia and queerness in a lakeside Midwestern university town.

 

Cover for Cannonball by Kelsey Wroten

Cannonball by Kelsey Wroten

This graphic novel tells the story of an artist struggling with the arrival of adulthood and the Sisyphean task of artistic fulfillment.

 

Cover for Joseph Chapman: My Molly Life by James Lovejoy

Joseph Chapman: My Molly Life by James Lovejoy

This historical fiction romance takes place in 18th century London, and is a 2020 Lamba Literary Award winner.

 

Cover for Grease Bats by Archie Bongiovanni

Grease Bats by Archie Bongiovanni

These slice-of-life comics follow queer and trans characters through capitalism, current events, and dating in Minneapolis. The introduction calls Grease Bats a “spiritual successor” to Allison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For, which follows lesbians in a city that looks a lot like Minneapolis.

 

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