Reading With PRIDE

Celebrating queer communities through literature

Books Are Magic
Jun 26 · 5 min read

By Danilo Machado

This June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a critical moment of LGBTQ activism against police brutality that took place in New York City.

While stories by and about queer and trans writers are essential all year around, here are just a few of the new LGBTQ books across genre which affirm and renew my commitment to queer community. I hope these books deepen your connection to chosen family and continue sparking imaginings for the present and future that are ever-more caring and inclusive.


Art After Stonewall by Jonathan Weinberg, Tyler Cann, Anastasia Kinigopoulo

This catalog, which accompanies the exhibition currently on view at Leslie Lohman Museum of LGBTQ Art and at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, is a rich resource of art and activism in the years following the Stonewall Uprisings of 1969. Delve into how artists and activists used photography, painting, sculpture, and books to capture their communities after a turning point in LGBTQ activism and through the peak of the AIDS crisis in the United States. Check out the exhibition through July 21st at Leslie Lohman and July 20th at Grey Art Gallery.

Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet into the Stonewall Era by Roxane Gay, Jason Baumann, Kay Tobin Lahusen

This book features the photographs of Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davis, invaluable documentarians of the gay rights movement, along with archival materials from the New York Public Library collection and an introduction by Roxane Gay. Let these images of joy and rage ground you with in a deep legacy of LGBTQ people. Make sure to check out the accompanying exhibition at the New York Public Library, through July 13th.

American Boys by Zaman Soraya, Angel Buck

This tender photo and interview compilation of trans masculinities exudes generocity, agency, and compassion.

When Brooklyn Was Queer by Hugh Ryan

Hugh Ryan’s engrossing history of our borough traces the queer legacies from Whitman to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a history that will hopefully not be forgotten after this important, intimate volume.

Sissy by Jacob Tobia

Gender non-conforming writer and activist Jacob Tobia and I are bored of the gender binary and the trans narratives that insist on it. With SISSY, Tobia presents a kind and funny alternative that embraces multitudes and messiness. Let this expanding “coming-of-gender” story be another step in us unlearning a suffocating binary that is boring, violent, and no fun at all.

Whitman200

This year, gay Brooklyn icon Walt Whitman turns 200 and a flurry of new editions are celebrating the occasion, including Live Oak, With Moss brilliantly illustrated by Brian Selznick (of The Invention of Hugo Cabret), Song of Myself, with whimsical illustrations by Allen Crawford. Also out is the Walt Whitman Speaks: His Final Thoughts on Life, Writing Spirituality, and the Promise of America, as told to Horace Traubel and edited by Brenda Wineapple — another volume to help continue revisiting the bard’s layered legacy.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera

This New York meet-cute rom-com between two different boys will give you all the queer feels. Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera make the perfect coupling for this back-and-forth narration exploring difference, intimacies, and communication.

I Love My Colorful Nails by Alicia Acosta, Luis Amavisca, illus. Gusti | Vivan las uñas de colores!

Seeing Alicia Acosta’s children’s book I Love My Colorful Nails filled me with joy and affirmation, no matter how chipped my own pink polish was that day. I’m here for an ever-growing number of children’s book that are embracing many different kinds of expressions. It makes me hopeful for a queerer, more colorful world. (It’s also available in Spanish!)

Our Rainbow by Little Lee Books

This board book embraces each stripe of the rainbow flag, including the new additions of black and brown symbolizing people of color. Each page features a different artist’s vibrant interpretation of the color, emphasizing diversity and community.

Books continue to be part of how I connect to queer communities past and present. As we celebrate and march this month and every month, let us continue to ask who in our wide community is absent from our tables, ask who is most vulnerable to systemic violence and how we can leverage our resources to uplift and support them — let us be grounded by the images and words we have created and will continue to create, together.


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Books Are Magic

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The musings from a bookstore in Brooklyn

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