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Pride Month Book Reports—Part 2

By Amy Deppe:


Pride Month is still in full swing, and as we honor, celebrate, and recognize the LGBTQIA+ community, we are excited to bring you the second installment of these "Book Reports" showcasing that amazing, resilient community.


As with Part 1, these entries highlight works that helped me through my early (and continuing) journey of self-discovery and hopefully can offer others the same—or at the very least opportunities to see themselves reflected in literature and media.


So please enjoy this next set and stay tuned for the final Part 3 coming soon!


Happy Pride!

 


Pride Book Report #11


Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals by Saidiya Hartman


Hartman dug into historical documents to construct the histories of Black women and girls in Philadelphia and New York as they built lives [coming] out of the South at the beginning of the twentieth century. Some of these women and girls were queer. The House of Detention looms large in this book, but reform schools are also featured in many of these histories.


I loved this book because it gave me a view of the unwritten history that we need to hold up. America’s past and present are shaped by women and gender-nonconforming people, as well as men, and by people of color in addition to the white people who are commonly written about. We need to see a fuller picture of history presented to us during our K–12 history classes!



Pride Book Report #12


Flamer by Mike Curato


We bought this book recently because we saw a local news story about outrage at an area school board meeting over it. Well, let's buy it! So glad I did! This is a graphic novel that tells the story of one summer at Boy Scout camp when the main character develops a crush on his tent-mate and realizes that he is gay. Some Boy Scouts at the camp are homophobic and bully the main character, but there are some who quietly support and try to befriend him.


In this story, we see the homophobia of the institution and a boy’s journey of self-discovery. It is not an easy journey, as many of the LGBTQIA+ community will recognize, but it ends well.



Pride Book Report #13


The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel


This comic strip, that has been collected into books, ran in the local alternative paper while I was in San Antonio. Reading it semi-regularly made the characters a part of my coming out/coming of age story.


When Bechdel published Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, our book club read it together. It was a view into the early, formative life of an artist who we cherished. That’s not what this is about, though.


The characters of DTWOF represent chosen family on the page in a way that I had never seen before. These people care fiercely for one another. They grow together. They protest together. They witness history. I revisit this book in times when I need connection to my younger self and reminders of how amazing the queer community is. It was one of the books I reached for when I was recovering from my lumpectomy and dealing with radiation.



Pride Book Report #14


In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco


This is one of the picture books that we found about a two-mom family. Our children were 7 and 9 by the time this was published, and we were reading picture books as well as chapter books together. It's a bit longer, quite wordy, and beautifully illustrated. I love Patricia Polacco’s picture books!


This one is special and makes me cry every time! She tells the story of a family of three adopted children and two moms. Their life is full of love! There is a bit of homophobia, but there is always homophobia in real life. Polacco has it happen in a very real way, and the children and family are surrounded by love and supportive friends. We see scenes from their childhood and get a view of this family’s life together. It is beautiful.



Pride Book Report #15


Love Is Love: a comic book anthology to benefit the survivors of the Orlando Pulse shooting (edited by Marc Andreyko)


The Pulse shooting in 2016 shook me to my core. Gay clubs and bars are sometimes the ONLY safe space that LGBTQIA+ people have to gather, explore their culture, and be freely themselves. As a baby queer, walking into Petticoat Junction for the first time, going to "Family Night" at Tycoon Flats for the first time, took my breath away. Seeing so many people like me in the same place! Not being expected to be straight! Watching couples freely touch, hold hands, kiss, and dance! Safety! So when I saw on the news that someone had come into a gay club and killed people, I was shook!


Buying this book was a way for me to feel connected to community. The pages are filled with art and stories about Pulse, about love, about the heartbreak we were feeling, but also messages of hope and survival.



Pride Book Report #16


Stitching a Revolution: The Making of an Activist by Cleve Jones and Jeff Dawson


Cleve Jones is one of those activists who seems to pop up in a lot of places. This book is a memoir about how the AIDS quilt came to be and the impact that it had. In the 1990s and into the early 2000s, the AIDS epidemic loomed large in my mind. In reality, it had ravaged the community since the 1980s and been ignored politically because, well, you know. . . .


This book is a special history of creative activism and love of community. The AIDS quilt made immense pain and loss palpable to the nation and, I believe, forced our government to acknowledge the epidemic. We have made great strides in the fight to destigmatize people living with HIV, and the search for a cure continues.



Pride Book Report #17


Queer as All Get Out: 10 People Who’ve Inspired Me by Shelby Criswell


This is a graphic novel where the author inserts themself occasionally, so we get a flavor of them as well as the people they are profiling. For me, it was a bit nostalgic because they are based in San Antonio, where Jimmie Sue and I met and built our family. I think San Antonio is the coolest town in Texas. 🙂


Some of these 10 people I knew of, and some were new to me. I always love a good historical queer! The pages are filled with beautiful art and facts about the lives of amazing ancestors! People I have heard of like Pauli Murray and Rosetta Tharpe alongside some new people (for me) such as Willmer "Little Ax" Broadnax and Mary Jones. Weaved between each story is a bit of reflection from Criswell about how knowing about queer ancestors has enhanced their life.



Pride Book Report #18


Last Night at the Telegraph Club and A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo


These books take place within the same family—two generations apart. The main characters maybe met each other at a family event when the Aria from A Scatter of Light was young. The journey and existence of Lily from Last Night at the Telegraph Club paved the way (or was maybe the cold planer that came through and removed the old asphalt to make way for the new) for Aria, making her coming out easier. The connective relationship between these two books kept me going back to my LGBTQIA+ ancestors and elders. How times have changed! How these people forged a path for me and younger generations to glide through life! It is thanks to them that children are able to live their truth younger and younger.


In the first book, we meet Lily, who is 17 in 1954. She is Chinese American in San Francisco during the Red Scare. Situated in history, we see her discover her first love. There were places in this book where I recognized how I felt at that stage of baby queer growth. This book moved me greatly. In the second book, Aria is just out of high school in 2013. We see her stumbling to find herself, learning about her family, learning about the queer community. These books are definitely standalone, only just touching at the narrative edges. As I reflect on them, I keep coming back to the grand picture that Lo paints of connectivity across generations, of the continual roadwork that LGBTQIA+ ancestors do for us and that we do for our future.



Pride Book Report #19


Patience & Sarah by Isabel Miller


Historical fiction published the year of Stonewall! In this book, two frontier lady lovers strike out on their own and forge a life together. After some time passes, one of them begins presenting as a man. It ends with death, discovery, and sadness (as so many of the older LGBTQIA+ stories do). Still, I am very fond of this book!


I grew up watching Gunsmoke, Little House on the Prairie, Bonanza, and The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. I'm sure that is why I picked up this book about gay frontier life; I got to read about people making their way on the land and not have to change the characters in my mind. I didn’t have to imagine that it was a queer partnership because it was clearly laid out for me. Some of the work of being an LGBTQIA+ person consuming media is having to change the genders of characters in order to relate better. When the entirety of media caters to not you, it can be work to enjoy art. Reading a genre that you like, where you are represented, brings the joy back into consuming media.



Pride Book Report #20


The books of Banana Yoshimoto


[At the time this was originally published, it] is our anniversary! Nineteen years of support and love and life-building! We have been reading together for roughly 23 years. When I met Jimmie Sue, she talked about two authors who were very important to her:


The first is Banana Yoshimoto, a Japanese author who tells stories of women. Her favorite of Yoshimoto’s books, which we seem to have lost in our many moves, is Kitchen. It is a beautiful story of loss and finding comfort. It is the first time that I saw a transfeminine person represented in a book. I remember Yoshimoto’s writing as beautiful and captivating.


Happy Pride!


 

Amy Deppe is an Early Childhood Professional, happily married to the love of her life, with two grown children and one furbaby. She loves the outdoors and spends her free time hiking, biking, exploring in the kitchen, and reading.

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