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Celebrating the History of the Stonewall Riots

A graphic with a pride flag clipart in the center and the text "6 Queer History Books for the 55th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots." The covers of the six books are on the graphic. The books are: And Then I Danced by Mark Segal, Transgender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg; Whipping Girl by Julia Serano; Queer Budapest by Anita Kurimay; Bi Any Other Name edited by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu; and The Stonewall Reader edited by the New York Public Library.

June 28th 2024 was the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, a turning point event often seen as the birth of the modern gay rights movement. To celebrate, we’ve assembled a short list of our favorite non-fiction books about queer activism – plus two websites that are good resources as well! The contributors to this list are Kelas, Meera S., E. C., Tris Lawrence, and three anonymous contributors.

And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality by Mark Segal

On December 11, 1973, Mark Segal disrupted a live broadcast of the CBS Evening News when he sat on the desk directly between the camera and news anchor Walter Cronkite, yelling, “Gays protest CBS prejudice ” He was wrestled to the studio floor by the stagehands on live national television, thus ending LGBT invisibility. But this one victory left many more battles to fight, and creativity was required to find a way to challenge stereotypes surrounding the LGBT community. Mark Segal’s job, as he saw it, was to show the nation who gay people are: our sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers.

Because of activists like Mark Segal, whose life work is dramatically detailed in this poignant and important memoir, today there are openly LGBT people working in the White House and throughout corporate America. An entire community of gay world citizens is now finding the voice that they need to become visible.


Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano

A provocative manifesto, Whipping Girl tells the powerful story of Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist. Serano shares her experiences and observations—both pre- and post-transition—to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole.

Serano’s well-honed arguments stem from her ability to bridge the gap between the often-disparate biological and social perspectives on gender. She exposes how deep-rooted the cultural belief is that femininity is frivolous, weak, and passive, and how this “feminine” weakness exists only to attract and appease male desire.

In addition to debunking popular misconceptions about transsexuality, Serano makes the case that today’s feminists and transgender activist must work to embrace and empower femininity—in all of its wondrous forms.


Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman by Leslie Feinberg

In this fascinating, personal journey hrough history, Leslie Feinberg uncovers persuasive evidence that there have always been people who crossed the cultural boundaries of gender. Transgender Warriors is an eye-opening jaunt through the history of gender expression and a powerful testament to the rebellious spirit.


Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka’ahumanu

In this groundbreaking anthology, more than seventy women and men from all walks of life describe their lives as bisexuals in prose, poetry, art, and essays


Queer Budapest, 1873–1961 by Anita Kurimay

By the dawn of the twentieth century, Budapest was a burgeoning cosmopolitan metropolis. Known at the time as the “Pearl of the Danube,” it boasted some of Europe’s most innovative architectural and cultural achievements, and its growing middle class was committed to advancing the city’s liberal politics and making it an intellectual and commercial crossroads between East and West. In addition, as historian Anita Kurimay reveals, fin-de-si cle Budapest was also famous for its boisterous public sexual culture, including a robust gay subculture. Queer Budapest is the riveting story of nonnormative sexualities in Hungary as they were understood, experienced, and policed between the birth of the capital as a unified metropolis in 1873 and the decriminalization of male homosexual acts in 1961.

Kurimay explores how and why a series of illiberal Hungarian regimes came to regulate but also tolerate and protect queer life. She also explains how the precarious coexistence between the illiberal state and queer community ended abruptly at the close of World War II. A stunning reappraisal of sexuality’s political implications, Queer Budapest recuperates queer communities as an integral part of Hungary’s–and Europe’s–modern incarnation.


The Stonewall Reader by New York Public Library

June 28, 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which is considered the most significant event in the gay liberation movement, and the catalyst for the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States. Drawing from the New York Public Library’s archives, The Stonewall Reader is a collection of first accounts, diaries, periodic literature, and articles from LGBTQ magazines and newspapers that documented both the years leading up to and the years following the riots. Most importantly the anthology spotlights both iconic activists who were pivotal in the movement, such as Sylvia Rivera, co-founder of Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR), as well as forgotten figures like Ernestine Eckstein, one of the few out, African American, lesbian activists in the 1960s. The anthology focuses on the events of 1969, the five years before, and the five years after. Jason Baumann, the NYPL coordinator of humanities and LGBTQ collections, has edited and introduced the volume to coincide with the NYPL exhibition he has curated on the Stonewall uprising and gay liberation movement of 1969.


Bonus – Two Great Websites:

Stonewall National Museum Archives & Library

Making Queer History


View this list, and our other queer non-fiction book recs, as a shelf on Goodreads!

See a book you need to own? Buy it through our affiliate shop on Bookshop.org!

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