Tag Archives: LGBTQIA+

Reading Recommendations: Chosen Family

By Brenna Wheeler

It’s December, and that means holiday season. This time of the year can come with so many different feelings and experiences. As the fall and winter holidays arrive, many LGBTQIA+ members of our community are returning home to families who either don’t know or don’t accept aspects of their identities. Others may not even have that option. For many in this community, chosen family provides the acceptance their biological families may not. With this in mind, the DAC blog has put together a reading list with LGBTQIA+ authors and characters to keep you company during this season and share their own experiences with family, love, and acceptance.

I just need a novel to read

  1. Image of Book Cover for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz“Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.”
  2. Juliet takes a breath by Gabby Rivera
    • “Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole ‘Puerto Rican lesbian’ thing.”
  3. Nevada by Imogen Binnie
    • “Nevada is the darkly comedic story of Maria Griffiths a young trans woman living in New York City and trying to stay true to her punk values while working retail. When she finds out her girlfriend has lied to her, the world she thought she’d carefully built for herself begins to unravel, and Maria sets out on a journey that will most certainly change her forever.”
  4. Image of book cover: Confessions of a maskConfessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima
    • “Confessions of a Mask tells the story of Kochan, an adolescent boy tormented by his burgeoning attraction to men: he wants to be ‘normal.’ To hide his homosexuality, he courts a woman, Sonoko, but this exacerbates his feelings for men. As news of the War reaches Tokyo, Kochan considers the fate of Japan and his place within its deeply rooted propriety.”
  5. Witchmark by C.L. Polk
    • “Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.”
  6. Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
    • “Based on a true story plucked from Highsmith’s own life, Price of Salt tells the riveting drama of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose routine is forever shattered by a gorgeous epiphany–the appearance of Carol Aird, a customer who comes in to buy her daughter a Christmas toy. They fall in love and set out across the United States, ensnared by society’s confines and the imminent disapproval of others, yet propelled by their infatuation.”
  7. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
    • “This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.”
  8. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
    • “Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.”Image of book cover: Heiresses of Russ 2016
  9. Heiresses of Russ: The year’s best lesbian speculative fiction.
    • “Heiresses of Russ offers readers in one volume the best lesbian-themed tales of the fantastical, weird and otherworldly, published during the prior year.”
  10. Meanwhile, elsewhere: Science fiction and fantasy from transgender writers edited by Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett
    • “The #1 post-reality generation device approved for home use This manual will prepare you to travel from multiverse to multiverse. No experience is required. Choose from twenty-five preset post-realities. Rejoice at obstacles unquestionably bested and conflicts efficiently resolved.”
  11. Transcendent: the year’s best transgender speculative fiction
  12. Transcendent 2 : the year’s best transgender speculative fiction
    • “This anthology will be a welcome read for those who are ready to transcend gender through the lens of science fiction, fantasy, and other works of imaginative fiction.”

…but with fewer words.

  1. America: the life and times of America Chavez, Volume 1Image of book cover: America Volume 2
  2. America: Fast and fuertona, Volume 2 by Gabby Rivera
    • “In Marvel’s first series centered on an LGBTQIA+ Latinx character, America Chavez is kicking her way through dimensions, battling cults, viruses, and other aliens threatening Earth, all while attending her first college courses.”
  3. Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay
    • “You know them now as the Midnight Angels, but in this story they are just Ayo and Aneka, young women recruited to become Dora Milaje, an elite task force trained to protect the crown of Wakanda at all costs. Their first assignment will be to protect Queen Shuri… but what happens when your nation needs your hearts and minds, but you already gave them to each other?”
  4. Bingo Love by Tee Franklin
    • “When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.”
  5. Image of book cover: HeathenHeathen, Volume 1 by Natasha Alterici
    • “Aydis is a viking, a warrior, an outcast, and a self-proclaimed heathen. Aydis is friend to the talking horse Saga, rescuer of the immortal Valkyrie Brynhild, and battler of demons and fantastic monsters. Aydis is a woman. Born into a time of warfare, suffering, and subjugation of women, she is on a mission to end the oppressive reign of the god-king Odin.”
  6. Art & queer culture by Catherine Lord & Richard Meyer.
    • “Art & Queer Culture is a comprehensive and definitive survey of artworks that have constructed, contested, or otherwise responded to alternative forms of sexuality. Rather than focusing exclusively on artists who self-identify as gay or lesbian, Art & Queer Culture instead traces the shifting possibilities and constraints of sexual identity that have provided visual artists with a rich creative resource over the last 130 years – and it does so in an accessible, authoritative voice, and with a wealth of rarely-seen imagery.”

Actually, some poetry really sounds good right now

  1. Image of book cover: NepantlaNepantla: an anthology for queer poets of color edited by Christopher Soto
    • “The first major literary anthology for queer poets of color in the United StatesIn 2014, Christopher Soto and Lambda Literary Foundation founded the online journal Nepantla, with the mission to nurture, celebrate, and preserve diversity within the queer poetry community, including contributions as diverse in style and form, as the experiences of QPOC in the United States.”
  2. The collected poems of Audre Lorde
    • “Collected here for the first time are more than three hundred poems from one of this country’s major and most influential poets, representing the complete oeuvre of Audre Lorde’s poetry. Included here are Lorde’s early, previously unavailable works: The First Cities, The New York Head Shop and Museum, Cables to Rage, and From a Land Where Other People Live.”
  3. When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz – Digital Copy; Physical Copy
    • “This debut collection is a fast-paced tour of Mojave life and family narrative: A sister fights for or against a brother on meth, and everyone from Antigone, Houdini, Huitzilopochtli, and Jesus is invoked and invited to hash it out. These darkly humorous poems illuminate far corners of the heart, revealing teeth, tails, and more than a few dreams.”
  4. Image of book cover: Night Sky with Exit WoundsNight sky with exit wounds by Ocean Vuong
    • “A haunting debut that is simultaneously dreamlike and visceral, vulnerable and redemptive, and risks the painful rewards of emotional honesty.”
  5. Cuicacalli / House of song by Ire’ne Lara Silva
    • “Part song, part grito, part wail, part lullaby, and part hymn, Cuicacalli / House of Song is a multi-vocal exploration of time, place, and history. Song lives within and without the poet’s physical and spiritual experience of body, of desire, of art, of loss, and of grief on an individual and communal level. Cuicacalli / House of Song sings survival, sings indigeneity, sings some part of the tattered world back together.”

I want a memoir or biography of LGBTQIA+ people!

  1. Image of book cover: Looking for LorraineLooking for Lorraine: the radiant and radical life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry
    • “Lorraine Hansberry, who died at thirty-four, was by all accounts a force of nature. Although best-known for her work A Raisin in the Sun, her short life was full of extraordinary experiences and achievements, and she had an unflinching commitment to social justice, which brought her under FBI surveillance when she was barely in her twenties.” -Amazon Summary
  2. Mama’s boy: a story from our Americas by Dustin Lance Black
    • “Black shares a candid, powerfully resonant memoir about growing up in a military, Mormon household outside San Antonio, Texas. His mother had contracted polio as a small girl, endured leg braces and iron lungs, and was repeatedly told that she could never have children or live a normal life. While Black struggled to come to terms with his sexuality, she remained his source of strength and his guiding light, and years later stood by his side when he helped bring the historic gay marriage case to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
  3. What drowns the flowers in your mouth: a memoir of brotherhood by Rigoberto Gonzalez
    • “Burdened by poverty, illiteracy, and vulnerability as Mexican immigrants to California’s Coachella Valley, three generations of González men turn to vices or withdraw into depression. As brothers Rigoberto and Alex grow to manhood, they are haunted by the traumas of their mother’s early death, their lonely youth, their father’s desertion, and their grandfather’s invective.”
  4. At the broken places: a mother and trans son pick up the pieces by Mary Collins and Donald Collins
    • “In this collaborative memoir, a parent and a transgender son recount wrestling with their differences as Donald Collins undertook medical-treatment options to better align his body with his gender identity. As a parent, Mary Collins didn’t agree with her trans son’s decision to physically alter his body, although she supported his right to realize himself as a person.”
  5. Image of book cover: MarblesMarbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by  Ellen Forney
    • “Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Ellen Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic but terrified that medications would cause her to lose her creativity and livelihood, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability without losing herself or her passion.”
  6. Nîtisânak by Lindsay Nixon
    • “Using a form of generative refusal towards western writing practices, the text works with the idea of kinship that derives from the author’s Plains Cree and other kinship teachings. It also examines how queer kin were some of their first experiences of reciprocal relationality and care.”
  7. Spit and Passion by Cristy C. Road
    • “At twelve years old, Cristy C. Road is struggling to balance tradition in a Cuban Catholic family with her newfound queer identity, and begins a chronic obsession with the punk band Green Day. In this stunning graphic biography, Road renders the clash between her rich inner world of fantasy and the numbing suburban conformity she is surrounded by. “

…or essays about their experiences

  1. Image of book cover: Cuentamelo¡Cuéntamelo! testimonios de inmigrantes latinos LGBT/Cuéntamelo! oral histories by LGBT Latino immigrants by Juliana Delgado Lopera; editado por/edited by Shadia Savo and Santiago Acosta; ilustrado por/illustrations by Laura Cerón Melo
    • “¡Cuéntamelo! Contains the oral history of nine different LGBTQIA+ Latinx immigrants and their experiences.”
  2. Reflections on female and trans* masculinities and other queer crossings edited by Nina Kane and Jude Woods
    • “The book presents many voices exploring themes of female and trans* masculinities, gender equality, and the lives, work and activism of LGBT*IQ artists and thinkers. It includes discussion of arts-making, cultural materials, diverse identities, contemporary queer politics, and social histories, and travels across time telling gender-crossing stories of creative resistance.”
  3. Nobody passes: rejecting the rules of gender and conformity edited by Mattilda, a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore – Physical Copy; Digital Copy
    • Nobody Passes explores and critiques the various systems of power seen (or not seen) in the act of “passing.” In a pass/fail situation, standards for acceptance may vary, but somebody always gets trampled on. This anthology seeks to eliminate the pressure to pass and thereby unearth the delicious and devastating opportunities for transformation that might create.”
  4. Image of book cover: I am your sister I am your sister: collected and unpublished writings of Audre Lorde edited by Rudolph P. Byrd, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Beverly Guy-Sheftall
    • “Audre Lorde was not only a famous black poet; she was also one of the most important radical black feminists of the past half century. I Am Your Sister collects her non-fiction prose from 1976 to 1990, and it is the first volume to provide a full picture of Lorde’s political work (as opposed to her aesthetic work). The essays cover an impressive variety of topics: sexuality, race, gender, culture, class, parenting, disease, resistance, and power – both within the United States and across the African diaspora.”
  5. Affirmative acts: political essays by June Jordan
    • “Piercingly intuitive, eloquent, and caustic, Affirmative Acts is an address to the social, economic, racial, and political conflicts that mar the otherwise beautiful human experience. In this new collection of political essays, Jordan explores the confusion of an America in the grip of pseudo-multiculturalism and political intolerance.” -Google Books
  6. Black Lesbian in White America by Anita Cornwell
    • “Anita Cornwell (b.1923) is an American lesbian feminist author. Her writings in this book are the first collection of essays by an African-American lesbian. It also includes her interview with Audre Lorde, also a black lesbian.” -Amazon

Honestly, I just want to watch Queer Eye, but I won’t have access to Netflix for a while

  1. Image of book cover: Queer EyeQueer eye: love yourself, love your life by Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk & Karamo Brown
    • “At a cultural moment when we are all craving people to admire, Queer Eye offers hope and acceptance. After you get to know the Fab Five, together they will guide you through five practical chapters that go beyond their designated areas of expertise (food & wine, fashion, grooming, home decor, and culture), touching on topics like wellness, entertaining, and defining your personal brand, and complete with bite-sized Hip Tips for your everyday quandaries. Above all else, Queer Eye aims to help you create a happy and healthy life, rooted in self-love and authenticity.”
  2. Karamo: my story of embracing purpose, healing, and hope by Karamo Brown with Jancee Dunn
    • “An insightful, candid, and inspiring memoir from Karamo Brown–Queer Eye’s beloved culture expert–as he shares his story for the first time, exploring how the challenges in his own life have allowed him to forever transform the lives of those in need.”
  3. Over the top: a raw journey to self-love by Jonathan Van Ness
    • “Over the Top uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-love and acceptance that Jonathan is today. In this revelatory, raw, and rambunctious memoir, Jonathan shares never-before-told secrets and reveals sides of himself that the public has never seen.”
  4. Image of book cover: Naturally TanNaturally Tan by Tan France with Caroline Donofrio
    • “In this memoir, France illuminates his winding journey of coming of age, finding his voice (and style!), and marrying the love of his life – a Mormon cowboy from Salt Lake City. He shares the lessons he’s learned about being a successful businessman, a devoted spouse, and the importance of self-acceptance.”
  5. Queer eye for the straight guy: the fab 5’s guide to looking better, cooking better, dressing better, behaving better, and living better by Ted Allen, et al.
    • “Imagine this: Five eminently stylish and hilariously witty gay men — authoritative experts in food and wine, grooming, decorating, fashion, and culture — invade your life, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and, in the course of a day, make you better dressed, better groomed, better mannered, and a better cook, living in a better home.”
Public Domain images of Eleanor Roosevelt

The Life and Legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt

By Elle Covington and Brenna Wheeler

This week, we’re celebrating the life and legacy of the rabble rousing and possibly queer human rights activist and First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. She was an outspoken and controversial figure during her life, making many interesting friends and powerful enemies, including J. Edgar Hoover, and thus the FBI. She has the distinction of having one of the largest files in the FBI’s collection.

The sheer amount accomplished during her 78 years can and does fill volumes, and though we can’t do the full breadth or depth of it justice here, we highly recommend the linked resources to get a taste of the fascinating life of this fearless person.

October 11 marks the 135th anniversary of her birth, and it feels especially appropriate this year to revisit her words and reflect on the legacy that continues through the ongoing struggle for equality for all people, including those she considered her chosen family.

Early Years

Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884 in New York City to Anna Rebecca Hall and Elliot Roosevelt, brother of future president Theodore Roosevelt. She was raised by her maternal grandmother, Mary Livingston Ludlow after the death of both of her parents by the time Roosevelt was 9.

In 1905, at the age of 20, Eleanor Roosevelt married her fifth cousin, once removed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. During the early years of their marriage, she became increasingly politically and socially active, while her husband started his own political climb.

Image of the Cover of The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

White House Years

In 1933, FDR was inaugurated as the 32nd president of the United States and Eleanor Roosevelt became an explosive and influential first lady. Two days after the inauguration, Roosevelt became the 1st First Lady to hold her own press conferences. The idea was suggested to her by Associated Press reporter Lorena Hickok, who Roosevelt would go on to have long and likely intimate relationship.

Attendance at these press conferences was restricted to women reporters only, beginning the Women’s Press Corps for the White House. This forced many newspapers to hire women reporters—often the first women they’d ever hired for these positions—so that they’d be able to cover the press conferences.

Roosevelt also began writing a regular newspaper column, entitled “My Day,” and worked as a radio commentator to the chagrin of many in the White House. On December 7, 1941, Roosevelt gave a radio address on the attack at Pearl Harbor before FDR’s address to the nation.

During World War II, Roosevelt continued to be a voice for human rights. She wrote and spoke out harshly against Hitler and Mussolini and even openly criticized and argued against her husband’s policy of Japanese internment in the US. She lobbied for day care centers and wage equity for women entering the work force, and convinced FDR to create a Committee on Fair Employment Practices to ban employment discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity.

Image of Book Cover of No Ordinary Time
No Ordinary Time

Post-White House Years

FDR died in April 1945 while still in office, ending Roosevelt’s time as First Lady after 12 years in the position. However, this did not conclude her influence or humanitarian drive. No longer constrained by the political restraints of the white house, she immediately joined the NAACP Board of Directors and the Congress on Racial Equality Board. Then, in December, President Truman appointed Roosevelt to serve as the only woman delegate to the new United Nations General Assembly.

In April 1946, Roosevelt became the first chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, where she was instrumental in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She went on to have a long and influential tenure in the United Nations.

In 1961, President Kennedy appointed Roosevelt to chair the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. Though she participated in the commission for as long as she was able, Roosevelt succumbed to bone marrow disease before the final report could be issued.

Relationships and FBI File

During her life, Roosevelt’s social status as well as her activism put her into contact with many well-known figures. She forged long-standing friendships with such pioneers as Carrie Chapman Catt, Pauli Murray, Martha Gellhorn, and Amelia Earhart as well as many other reformers and activists.

There has been much debate surrounding the extent of the relationship between Roosevelt and AP reporter Lorena Hickok. Lengthy, daily letters between the two hint at more than a platonic friendship, at least during some portion of their relationship. Whether or not the relationship ever became physical, queer relationships were not a foreign concept for Roosevelt. Her closest friendships throughout the 1920s were with two lesbian couples whom she considered her chosen family: Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook, and Esther Lape and Elizabeth Read (p. 70).

Image of Book cover of Eleanor and Hick
Eleanor and Hick: The love affair that shaped a First Lady

Image of book cover of Empty without you
Empty Without You: the intimate letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok

Roosevelt’s friendship with activist and future Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Lash brought Roosevelt to the attention of the FBI, culminating in a 3,000 page FBI file following her through the White House years and beyond, concerned primarily with her involvement in civil rights activism.

Legacy

Thirty-eight years after her death, President Clinton declared October 11, 2000 Eleanor Roosevelt Day in honor of her tireless work to promote the health, dignity, and welfare of all people. Now, 19 years after that, October 11 is marked by a US Supreme Court hearing in which the basic tenants of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights hang in the balance.

Earlier this week, the court began hearing and debating three cases of alleged employment discrimination against members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The debate centers around whether or not sexual and gender minorities fall under the employment protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Throughout her life, and especially during the later years when her most ardent civil rights work was accomplished, Roosevelt adamantly insisted that education, housing, and employment were basic human rights, to which all people are entitled.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, arguably Roosevelt’s greatest accomplishment:

  • Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
  • Article 7: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”
  • Article 23
    • (1): “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
    • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
    • (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
    • (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

*Read the full declaration

It is still to be seen whether the Supreme Court will follow the example of Eleanor Roosevelt in declaring these rights for all people, or whether they will decide that employers are able to deny the right to employment to members of a community with whom Roosevelt, if she were alive today, might even choose to identify.

The Supreme Court’s decision is expected next June.

More Collection HighlightsImage of Book Cover for Eleanor Roosevelt and the anti-nuclear movement

Her Own Words

Correspondence

AV Materials

*Featured photos at the top of this post are Public Domain images courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library archives.

Image of Gloria Anzaldua

Celebrating the Birth and Life of Gloria Anzaldúa

For the latest blog post, we want to celebrate the birthday of Gloria Anzaldúa by highlighting her life and works. The full post is available on TexLibris, the blog of the Office of the Director of the University of Texas Libraries. Thanks so much to Julia Davila Coppedge, the LLILAS Benson User Services GRA for writing this post.

Check out a sample of the post below and be sure to check out UT Libraries and Benson Latin American Collection materials by and about Anzaldúa.

“I am a Libra (Virgo cusp) with VI — The Lovers destiny”: Celebrating the Birth and Life of Gloria Anzaldúa By Julia Davila Coppedge

Her Life

Seventy-seven years ago, on September 26th, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa was born to migrant farmers Urbano and Amalia Anzaldúa in Raymondville, Texas. As the oldest of four, she helped work on ranches and farms to help support her family. It was during this time in the Valley that she first learned about discrimination against Mexican Americans. Anzaldúa would later leave South Texas, living in other parts of the state, and in Indiana and California. She would also spend a large part of her career traveling internationally. But, her experiences growing up in the borderlands would influence her writing for the rest of her career, as she alludes to, when states that “I am a turtle, wherever I go I carry ‘home’ on my back.”

Anzaldúa was a self-described “tejana patlache (queer) nepantlera spiritual activist.” Her contributions to U.S. American literature, U.S. feminisms, queer theory, postcolonial theory, and Chicana/o Studies cannot be overstated. Anzaldúa won many awards in her lifetime including the National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Award (1991) and the Lambda Lesbian Small Book Press Award (1991).

Anzaldúa died on May 15, 2004 due to Diabetes-related complications. It is fitting we celebrate Anzaldúa’s life in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed September 15th – October 15th.

Her Time at UT Austin

Anzaldúa received her master’s degree in English and Education in 1972 at UT and returned in 1974 to pursue a PhD in Literature. In the foreword to the third edition of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color, she reflected on her struggles at UT: “As a Chicana, I felt invisible, alienated from the gringo university and dissatisfied with both el movimiento Chicano and the feminist movement…I rebelled, using my writing to work through my frustrations and make sense of my experiences.”

Read more.