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28 Queer History Books To Read During LGBTQ+ History Month

It's #LGBTHistoryMonth here in the UK, so what better time to crack open a book and read up on some queer history? From essays about how queer media shaped the world, to section 28, the aids epidemic and even the history of poppers, it's time to add some non-fiction to your TBR and get reading.

Book: The End of Innocence: Britain In The Time Of AIDS

Author: Simon Garfield

About: HIV & the AIDS epidemic during 1980s/90s Britain.

How does a country control a virus that is killing increasing numbers of people? How does a government contain an epidemic spread by sex, drug use and blood products? And how does a population react when told that everyone is at risk from infection?

Book: Outrageous!: The Story of Section 28 and Britain’s Battle for LGBT Education

Author: Paul Baker

About: Section 28, LGBTQ+ education, OutRage! and Stonewall.

Outrageous! tells the full story: the background to the Act, how the press fanned the flames and what politicians said during debates, how protestors fought back to bring about the repeal of the law in the 2000s, and its eventual legacy.

Book: Bad Gays: A Homosexual History

Authors: Huw Lemmey & Ben Miller

About: Queer villains and evil twinks.

From the Emperor Hadrian to notorious gangster Ronnie Kray, Bad Gays excavate the buried history of queer lives. This includes fascist thugs, famous artists, austere puritans and debauched bon viveurs, Imperialists, G-men and architects. Together these amazing life stories expand and challenge the mainstream assumptions of sexual identity.

Book: The Art of Drag

Author: Jake Hall

About: Kabuki theatre, Shakespeare, Stonewall and drag history.

Take a peek into the cultural phenomenon that is Drag, in this lusciously illustrated guide to the history of the phenomenon, from ancient theatre to the queens of RuPaul's Drag Race.

Book: All The Things She Said: Everything I Know About Modern Lesbian and Bi Culture

Author: Daisy Jones

About: Lesbian and bisexual culture in 21st century.

Lesbian and bi culture is ever-changing and here, journalist Daisy Jones unpicks outdated stereotypes and shows how, over the past few years, the style and shared language of queer women has slowly infiltrated the mainstream.

Book: The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice

Author: Shon Faye

About: An exploration of what it means to be trans in a transphobic society.

Despite making up less than one percent of the country's population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarized 'debate' which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals a simple fact: that we are having the wrong conversation, a conversation in which trans people themselves are reduced to a talking point and denied a meaningful voice.

Book: The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler

Author: Chris Bryant

About: A group of gay and bisexual British Conservative MPs who fought to defeat Hitler in the 1930s.

We like to think we know the story of how Britain went to war with Germany in 1939, but there is one chapter that has never been told. In the early 1930s, a group of young, queer British MPs visited Berlin on a series of trips that would change the course of the Second World War.

Book: Loving: A Photographic History Of Men In Love, 1850s - 1950s

Author: Hugh Nini & Neal Treadwell

About: A collection of photographs depicting love between M/M couples in a time where being gay was illegal.

Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love, 1850-1950 portrays the history of romantic love between men in hundreds of moving and tender vernacular photographs taken between the years 1850 and 1950. This visual narrative of astonishing sensitivity brings to light an until-now-unpublished collection of hundreds of snapshots, portraits, and group photos taken in the most varied of contexts, both private and public.

Book: No Modernism Without Lesbians

Author: Diana Souhaim

About: Lesbians, modernism and early 1900s Paris.

The extraordinary story of how a singular group of women in a pivotal time and place fostered the birth of the Modernist movement. Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Natalie Barney, and Gertrude Stein. A trailblazing publisher; a patron of artists; a society hostess; a groundbreaking writer. They were all women who loved women. They rejected the patriarchy and made lives of their own forming a community around them in Paris.

Book: Our Work Is Everywhere: An Illustrated Oral History of Queer and Trans Resistance

Author: Syan Rose

About: An illustrated oral history of queer & trans resistance.

In their own words, queer and trans organizers, artists, healers, comrades, and leaders speak honestly and authentically about their own experiences with power, love, pain, and magic to create a textured and nuanced portrait of queer and trans realities in America. The many themes include Black femme mental health, Pacific Islander authorship, fat queer performance art, disability and healthcare practice, sex worker activism, and much more. Accompanying the narratives are Rose's startling and sinuous images that brings these leaders' words to visual life.

Book: Deep Sniff: A History of Poppers and Queer Futures

Author: Adam Zmith

About: Poppers, their history and their use in society, art, medicine and culture.

This is the intriguing story of how poppers wafted out of the lab and into gay bars, corner shops, bedrooms and porn supercuts. Blending historical research with wry observation, Adam Zmith explores the cultural forces and improbable connections behind the power of poppers. What emerges is not just a history of pub raids, viral panics and pecs the size of dinner plates.

Book: Queer London: A Guide to the City's LGBTQ+ Past and Present

Author: Alim Kheraj

About: London's vibrant LGBTQ+ scene and its history.

Queer London is a timely and accessible introduction to the city through a LGBTQ+ lens, and will appeal to anyone with an interest in London's thriving queer landscape. Celebrating the diversity and innovation of queer individuals in London, both historically and today, Queer London features a range of bars, clubs, shops, Pride events, charities, community organisations, saunas and sex shops that cater to the LGBTQ community.

Book: And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic

Author: Randy Shilts

About: Politics, people and the AIDS epidemic in America up to 1985.

Randy Shilts was the first openly gay journalist dealing with gay issues for the San Francisco Chronicle. In 1981, the year when AIDS came to international attention, he quickly devoted himself to reporting on the developing epidemic, one which devastated his community and eventually took his life as well.

Book: Bi: The Hidden Culture, History and Science of Bisexuality

Author: Dr Julia Shaw

About: History, politics and visibility in relation to bisexuality.

Bi: The Hidden Culture, History and Science of Bisexuality explores all that we know about the world's largest sexual minority. From the hunt for a bi gene, to the relationship between bisexuality and consensual non-monogamy, to asylum seekers who need to prove their bisexuality in a court of law, there is more to explore than most have ever realised.

Book: David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music

Author: Darryl W. Bullock

About: LGBTQ+ music and musicians in the last century.

From Sia to Elton John, Dusty Springfield to Little Richard, LGBT voices have changed the course of modern music. But in a world before they gained understanding and a place in the mainstream, how did the queer musicians of yesteryear fight to build foundations for those who came after? Darryl W. Bullock reveals the inspiring and often heartbreaking stories of internationally renowned stars, as well as lesser-known names, who have led the revolution from all corners of the globe.

Book: Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution

Edited by: Lian Warfield, Walter Crasshole & Yony Leyser

About: An oral history of the Queercore movement from the people who lived it.

The movement that defied both the music underground and the LGBT mainstream community - queercore. Through exclusive interviews with protagonists like Bruce LaBruce, G.B. Jones, Jayne County, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, film director and author John Waters, Lynn Breedlove of Tribe 8, Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division, and many more, Queercore traces the history of a scene originally 'fabricated' in the bedrooms and coffee shops of Toronto and San Francisco by a few young, queer punks to its emergence as a relevant and real revolution.

Book: Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows

Author: Christine Burns

About: Trans history, rights and activism in Britain since the the 1930s.

From our television screens to the ballot box, over the past decade transgender people have suddenly become part of the zeitgeist. This apparent overnight emergence, though, is just the latest stage in a long and varied history... Trans Britain chronicles this journey in the words of those who were there to witness a marginalised community grow into the visible phenomenon we recognise today: activists, film-makers, broadcasters, parents, an actress, a rock musician and a priest, among many others.

Book: United Queerdom: From the Legends of the Gay Liberation Front to the Queers of Tomorrow

Author: Dan Glass

About: Queer activism and the Gay Liberation Front in the UK.

Throughout the 1970s the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) initiated an anarchic campaign that permanently changed the face of Britain. Inspired by the Stonewall uprisings in the US, the GLF demanded a 'Absolute Freedom For All' worldwide. Yet half a century on, injustice is rife and LGBT+ inequality remains.

Although many people believe queers are now free and should behave, assimilate and become palatable - Dan Glass shows that the fight is far from over. United Queerdom evocatively captures over five decades of LGBT+ culture and protest from the GLF to 2020s.

Book: Fabulosa!: The Story of Polari, Britain's Secret Gay Language

Author: Paul Baker

About: The history of Polari and the people who used it.

Polari is a language that was used chiefly by gay men in the first half of the twentieth century. It offered its speakers a degree of public camouflage and a means of identification. Paul Baker recounts the story of Polari with skill, humour and tenderness. He traces its historical origins and describes its linguistic nuts and bolts, explores the ways and the environments in which it was spoken, explains the reasons for its decline and tells of its unlikely re‐emergence in the twenty‐first century.

Book: The Stonewall Reader

Edited by: The New York Public Library

About: A collection of first-hand accounts, diary entries and articles focusing on the Stonewall Riots.

June 28, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. This 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.

Book: Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime

Author: Alex Espinoza

About: The history of cruising and the political/cultural forces behind it.

Combining historical research and oral history with his own personal experience, author Alex Espinoza examines the political and cultural forces behind this radical pastime. From Greek antiquity to the notorious Molly houses of 18th century England, the raucous 1970s to the algorithms of Grindr, Oscar Wilde to George Michael, cruising remains at once a reclamation of public space and the creation of its own unique locale―one in which men of all races and classes interact, even in the shadow of repressive governments.

Book: Playing Gay in the Golden Age of British TV

Author: Stephen Bourne

About: A non-exhaustive look at gay male representation on British television.

Playing Gay in the Golden Age of British TV looks at gay male representation on and off the small screen - from the programmes that hinted at homoeroticism to Mary Whitehouse's Clean Up TV campaign, and The Naked Civil Servant to the birth of Channel 4 as an exciting 'alternative' television channel. Here, acclaimed social historian Stephen Bourne tells the story of the innovation, experimentation, back-tracking and bravery that led British television to help change society for the better.

Book: Female Husbands: A Trans History

Author: Jen Manion

About: The history of female husbands across the UK and US in the 18th and 19th Century.

Long before people identified as transgender or lesbian, there were female husbands and the women who loved them. Female husbands - people assigned female who transed gender, lived as men, and married women - were true queer pioneers. Moving deftly from the colonial era to just before the First World War, Jen Manion uncovers the riveting and very personal stories of ordinary people who lived as men despite tremendous risk, danger, violence, and threat of punishment.

Book: Queer X Design: 50 Years of Signs, Symbols, Banners, Logos, and Graphic Art of LGBTQ

Author: Andy Campbell

About: LGBTQ+ design, symbols, logos, and graphic art over the past 50 years.

QUEER X DESIGN is an empowering, uplifting, and colorful celebration of the hundreds of graphics, symbols, flags and iconic posters that have stood for the powerful and ever-evolving LGBTQ movement over the last five-plus decades. The book includes work like Gilbert Baker's original rainbow flag, ACT-UP's Silence = Death poster, the AIDS quilt, and Keith Haring's "Heritage of Pride" logo, as well as the original Lavender Menace t-shirt design so much more.

Book: A Little Gay History Of Wales

Author: Daryl Leeworthy

About: Welsh LGBT life and politics from the Middle Ages to the present

A Little Gay History of Wales tells the compelling story of Welsh LGBT life from the Middle Ages to the present day. Drawing on a rich array of archival sources from across Britain, together with oral testimony and material culture, this pioneering study is the first to examine the experiences of ordinary LGBT men and women, and how they embarked on coming out, coming together and changing the world.

Book: Queer Footprints: A Guide to Uncovering London's Fierce History

Author: Dan Glass

About: The modern guide to London's LGBTQ+ history and community.

Follow in the footprints of veteran activists, such as those who marched in London's first Pride parade in 1972 or witnessed the 1999 bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho. Accompanied by a chorus of voices of both iconic and unsung legends of the movement, readers can walk through parts of East, West, South and North London, dipping into beautifully illustrated maps and extraordinary tales of LGBTQIA+ solidarity, protest and pride.

Book: Before We Were Trans: A New History of Gender

Author: Kit Heyam

About: The global history of gender nonconformity from antiquity to the present.

Before We Were Trans is a new and different story of gender, that seeks not to be comprehensive or definitive, but - by blending culture, feminism and politics - to widen the scope of what we think of as trans history by telling the stories of people across the globe whose experience of gender has been transgressive, or not characterised by stability or binary categories.

Transporting us from Renaissance Venice to seventeenth-century Angola, from Edo Japan to North America, the stories this book tells leave questions and resist conclusions.

Book: Hi Honey, I'm Homo!: Sitcoms, Specials, and the Queering of American Culture

Author: Matt Baume

About: Queerness in American sitcoms, TV specials and series and its impact on American culture

From flamboyant relatives on Bewitched to closely-guarded secrets on All in the Family, from network-censor fights over Soap to behind-the-scenes activism on the set of The Golden Girls, from Ellen's culture clash to Modern Family's primetime power-couple, Hi Honey, I'm Homo! is the story not only of how subversive queer comedy transformed the American sitcom, from its inception through today, but how our favourite sitcoms transformed, and continue to transform, America.

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