To celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June 2021, the Library is showcasing a research guide on Pride curated by Prof. Leila Walker, Digital Scholarship Librarian, which features ebooks and other e-resources. Check out these resources and join us for a virtual celebration at CUNY Pridefest at Queens College on June 25.
Some History and Background
Each year in June, we celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride and commemorate the June 28, 1969, Stonewall Uprising. At that time, when homosexuality was a criminal offense, the Stonewall Inn was one of the most popular gay bars in New York City, and it was subjected to frequent police raids. In the early hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the bar; the powerful resistance to the raid, the ensuing riots, and the commemoration of the uprising the following June are often considered the origins of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.
As a queer woman, Pride month is personal for me. While June is a time to celebrate the joy, pride, power, and diversity of LGBTQ+ people and our history, it can also be a very stressful time of year for many of us. June is the month when we remember the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. June is also the month when Supreme Court decisions are traditionally handed down: in June 2003, the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas legalized same-sex sexual activity across the US; in June 2015, the Supreme Court held state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in Obergefell v. Hodges; in June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission that owners of public accommodations can refuse service to gay people on religious grounds. This year, the Court’s decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia is expected any day. That ruling will determine whether a Catholic child welfare organization can refuse to recommend gay and lesbian couples as foster parents. Each of these decisions affects whether and how we are legally allowed to enter into familial relationships; each of these decisions feels like a ruling on my humanity.
As a queer librarian, Pride month is especially personal for me, because the archival mission, the mission of organizing and making available resources about LGBTQ+ pride and history, is so urgently necessary to the ongoing formation of my community. As Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick wrote in The Epistemology of the Closet in 1990, in a passage that immediately resonated with me as a young lesbian, gay people are people “who seldom grow up in gay families; who are exposed to their culture’s, if not their parents’, high ambient homophobia long before either they or those who care for them know that they are among those who most urgently need to define themselves against it; who have with difficulty and always belatedly to patch together from fragments a community, a usable heritage, a politics of survival or resistance” (p. 81). Growing up, usually, outside of queer communities, we must work to seek them out. Thus the particular importance of LGBTQ+ community centers, archives, and oral history projects, through which we belatedly learn (and create) a collective history.
This archival impulse is compounded by the monumental loss of gay community to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the immeasurable loss of human lives and collective knowledge. June of 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the first known cases of the disease that would eventually be known as HIV/AIDS. As government agencies refused to act, LGBTQ+ communities came together to educate each other, care for each other, fight for change, and remember lost loved ones in memorials and works of art. (The struggle for same-sex marriage gained urgency in this crisis as well, as gay couples with no legally recognized relationship were denied the rights to hospital visits or inheritance; Sarah Schulman traces how those legal lacunae shaped the development of New York City in The Gentrification of the Mind.)
I hope that you find in these resources a celebration of LGBTQ+ joy, fabulousness, and community, and an acknowledgment of the work that is left to be done.