What to Read and Watch for LGBT History Month

By Lucy Fisher

Every October since 1994, LGBT History month is celebrated.  Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history.  He rallied with other teachers and community leaders and the month of October was selected because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as National Coming Out Day, also occur.  In 2006, Equality Forum assumed responsibility for providing content for LGBT month.  

Roesch Library’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee is celebrating LGBT History Month by highlighting a number of resources available in the library’s collection.  Retired Bishop Gene Robinson is widely known as the first priest in an openly gay relationship to be consecrated as a bishop in a major Christian denomination.  Bishop Robinson wrote God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage in which he makes a respectful argument for gay marriage using theology and reasoned secular thought.  Bishop Robinson says, “Because in the end, God believes in love!”  

Divisive topics such as gay rights are often the center of political campaigns and Amy Stone’s Gay Rights at the Ballot Box explores the evolution of gay rights and the law.  Stone says, “Social movements and ballot measure campaigns are interrelated - the growth of one often leads to the growth of the other.”  Urvashi Vaid’s Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class, and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics dives into many common controversies, rhetoric and questions that social change movements often face.  Vaid’s book is optimistic yet challenges advocates for LGBT rights to look beyond equity and suggests more substantive politics may produce more meaningful change for a larger number of people.

Roesch Library has a variety of resources available through the online database Kanopy Streaming.  T’ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s takes viewers on a revolutionary ride through the working-class vision of blues with Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter and Gladys Bentley.  Long before Hollywood presented society with the image of a rebel, these women were breaking taboos during 1910s and 1920s.  These blues women presented themselves as strong feminists who lived hard lives and were unapologetic about their choices of clothes, recreation and partners.  

Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria takes a look at the confrontation between transgender women and men who fought police in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district three years before the riot at the Stonewall Inn bar in New York City.  Often overlooked in favor of the more famous Stonewall Inn riot, this documentary highlights the early attempts at activism and explores the culture and mood of the Tenderloin district before and after the cafeteria riot.  

Roesch Library offers more resources in print and online that highlight important events and thinkers in the LGBT civil rights movement.  To learn more, search the library’s online catalog or stop by the 2nd floor bulletin board in Roesch Library.  To learn more about the history of LGBT month, visit the LGBT History Month website.         

- Lucy Fisher, Course Reserves Specialist

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