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Books That Matter: LGBTQ+

An anti-racist social justice bookshelf that highlights specific books as a way to increase visibility and include everyone!

LGBTQ+ Authors

Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex by Eric A Stanley and Nat Smith

Call Number: HQ77.9 .C37 2011

ISBN: 9781849350709

Publication Date: 2011 

Pathologized, terrorized, and confined, trans/gender-non-conforming, and queer folks have always struggled against the enormity of the prison industrial complex. The first collection of its kind, Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith bring together current and former prisoners, activists, and academics to offer new ways for understanding how race, gender, ability, and sexuality are lived under the crushing weight of captivity. Through a politic of gender self-determination, this collection argues that trans/queer liberation and prison abolition must be grown together. From rioting against police violence and critiquing hate crimes legislation, to prisoners demanding access to HIV medications, and far beyond, Captive Genders is a challenge for us all to join the struggle.

If I Could Write This in Fire by Michelle Cliff

Call Number: PR9265.9.C55 Z46 2008

ISBN: 9780816654741

Publication Date: 2008

Born in a Jamaican still under British rule, Michelle Cliff embraced her many identities shaped by her experiences with the forces of colonialism and oppression: a light-skinned Creole, a lesbian, and an immigrant in both England and the United States. If I Could Write This in Fire begins by tracing her transatlantic journey from Jamaica to England, coalescing around a graceful, elliptical account of her childhood friendship with Zoe, who is dark-skinned and from an impoverished, rural background; the divergent life courses that each is forced to take; and the class and color tensions that shape their lives as adults. The personal is interspersed with fragments of Jamaica’s history and the plight of people of color living both under imperial rule and in contemporary Britain. Cliff also writes about the discovery of her distinctive, diasporic literary voice, recalls her wild colonial girlhood and sexual awakening, and recounts traveling through an American landscape of racism, colonialism, and genocide.

Don't Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith

Call Number: PS3619.M5748 A6 2017

ISBN: 9781555977856

Publication Date: 2017 

Smith's unflinching poetry addresses race, class, sexuality, faith, social justice, mortality, and the challenges of living HIV positive at the intersection of black and queer identity. The collection opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved on earth. "Dear White America," which Smith performed at the 2014 Rustbelt Midwest Region Poetry Slam, has as strong an impact on the page as it did on the spoken word stage. Smith's courage and hope amidst the struggle for unity in America will humble and uplift you.

Them Goon Rules: Fugitive Essays on Radical Black Feminism by Marquis Bey

Call Number: HQ1410 B49 2019

ISBN: 9780816539772

Publication Date: 2019

A series of essays that reads like a critical memoir, this work queries the function and implications of politicized Blackness, Black feminism, and queerness. Bey binds together his personal experiences with social justice work at the New York–based Audre Lorde Project, growing up in Philly, and rigorous explorations of the iconoclasm of theorists of Black studies and Black feminism. Bey’s voice recalibrates itself playfully on a dime, creating a collection that tarries in both academic and nonacademic realms.

In the Shadows of the Freeway: Growing up Brown & Queer by Lydia R. Otero

Call Number: HQ73.3 U6 O84 2019

ISBN: 9787341180011

Publication Date: 2019

Raised in an adobe house built by their mother, the author takes readers to a mid-20th century barrio that existed on the social margins of Tucson, Arizona despite sitting a little more than a mile away from the central business district. Born in 1955, and nicknamed La Butch by their family, Lydia Otero knew they were queer the moment their consciousness had evolved enough to formulate thoughts. The author witnessed how the steady expansion of Interstate 10 (I-10) separated and isolated a barrio of brown and poor residents from the rest of the city.  This book, which combines personal memoir and family history with historical archives, offers more self-disclosure than Otero's previous works, as the author's experiences of childhood take center stage. Otero reveals the day-to-day survival mechanisms they depended upon, the exhilaration of first love, and the support the author received from key family members as they tried to gain a sense of belonging in a world mired in dislocation.

x/ex/exis: poemas para la nación by Raquel Salas Rivera

Call Number: PQ7442.S225 X49 2020

ISBN: 9780816544073

Publication Date: 2020

Written in the early days of the rise of world-wide fascism and the poet’s gender transition, x/ex/exis: poemas para la nación/poems for the nation accepts the invitation to push poetic and gender imaginaries beyond the bounds set by the nation. From teen dysphoria, to the incarceration of anticolonial activists Oscar López and Nina Droz Franco, to the entanglement of church and state, these poems acknowledge the violence of imposed binaries. For Salas Rivera, the x marks Puerto Rican transness in a world that seeks trans death, denial, and erasure. Instead of justifying his existence, he takes up the flag of illegibility and writes an apocalyptic book that screams into an uncertain future, armed with nothing to lose. In today's post-disaster Puerto Rico, Salas Rivera’s words feel visionary, mapping a decolonizing territory, a body, and identity of both soil and heart. 

Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness by Da’Shaun L. Harrison

Call Number: E185.86 .H376 2021

ISBN: 9781623175979

Publication Date: 2021

Da’Shaun Harrison–a fat, Black, disabled, and nonbinary trans writer–offers an incisive, fresh, and precise exploration of anti-fatness as anti-Blackness, foregrounding the state-sanctioned murders of fat Black men and trans and nonbinary masculine people in historical analysis. Policing, disenfranchisement, and invisibilizing of fat Black men and trans and nonbinary masculine people are pervasive, insidious ways that anti-fat anti-Blackness shows up in everyday life. Fat people can be legally fired in 49 states for being fat and they’re more likely to be houseless. Fat people die at higher rates from misdiagnosis or nontreatment and fat women are more likely to be sexually assaulted. And at the intersections of fatness, Blackness, disability, and gender, these abuses are exacerbated. Taking on desirability politics, the limitations of gender, the connection between anti-fatness and carcerality, and the incongruity of “health” for the Black fat, Harrison viscerally and vividly illustrates the myriad harms of anti-fat anti-Blackness. 

La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City by Lydia R. Otero

Call Number: HT177.T77 O84 2010

ISBN: 9780816528882

Publication Date: 2010

On March 1, 1966, the voters of Tucson approved the Pueblo Center Redevelopment Project—Arizona’s first major urban renewal project—which targeted the most densely populated eighty acres in the state. For close to one hundred years, tucsonenses had created their own spatial reality in the historical, predominantly Mexican American heart of the city, an area most called “la calle.” Here, amid small retail and service shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, they openly lived and celebrated their culture. To make way for the Pueblo Center’s new buildings, city officials proceeded to displace la calle’s residents and demolish their ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Otero examines conflicting claims to urban space, place, and history as advanced by two opposing historic preservationist groups: the La Placita Committee and the Tucson Heritage Foundation. She gives voice to those who lived in, experienced, or remembered this contested area, and analyzes the historical narratives promoted by Anglo-American elites in the service of tourism and cultural dominance.

I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arceneaux

Call Number: E185.97.A69 A3 2018

ISBN: 9781501178856

Publication Date: 2018

Equality for LGBTQ people has come a long way and all, but voices of persons of color within the community are still often silenced, and being Black in America is…well, have you watched the news? With the characteristic wit and candor that have made him one of today’s boldest writers on social issues, I Can’t Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux’s impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at minority life in today’s America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite. He writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; being approached for the priesthood; his obstacles in embracing intimacy that occasionally led to unfortunate fights with fire ants and maybe fleas; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams.

Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

Call Number: HQ18.552 .V35 2020

ISBN: 9780593094655

Publication Date: 2020

In Beyond the Gender Binary, poet, artist, and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate Alok Vaid-Menon deconstructs, demystifies, and reimagines the gender binary. Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today's leading activists and artists. In this installment, Beyond the Gender Binary, Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full color. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination.

LGBTQ+ Stories

In the Shadows of the Freeway: Growing up Brown & Queer by Lydia R. Otero

Call Number: HQ73.3 U6 O84 2019

ISBN: 9787341180011

Publication Date: 2019

Raised in an adobe house built by their mother, the author takes readers to a mid-20th century barrio that existed on the social margins of Tucson, Arizona despite sitting a little more than a mile away from the central business district. Born in 1955, and nicknamed La Butch by their family, Lydia Otero knew they were queer the moment their consciousness had evolved enough to formulate thoughts. The author witnessed how the steady expansion of Interstate 10 (I-10) separated and isolated a barrio of brown and poor residents from the rest of the city.  This book, which combines personal memoir and family history with historical archives, offers more self-disclosure than Otero's previous works, as the author's experiences of childhood take center stage. Otero reveals the day-to-day survival mechanisms they depended upon, the exhilaration of first love, and the support the author received from key family members as they tried to gain a sense of belonging in a world mired in dislocation.

Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex by Eric A Stanley and Nat Smith

Call Number: HQ77.9 .C37 2011

ISBN: 9781849350709

Publication Date: 2011 

Pathologized, terrorized, and confined, trans/gender-non-conforming, and queer folks have always struggled against the enormity of the prison industrial complex. The first collection of its kind, Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith bring together current and former prisoners, activists, and academics to offer new ways for understanding how race, gender, ability, and sexuality are lived under the crushing weight of captivity. Through a politic of gender self-determination, this collection argues that trans/queer liberation and prison abolition must be grown together. From rioting against police violence and critiquing hate crimes legislation, to prisoners demanding access to HIV medications, and far beyond, Captive Genders is a challenge for us all to join the struggle.

x/ex/exis: poemas para la nación by Raquel Salas Rivera

Call Number: PQ7442.S225 X49 2020

ISBN: 9780816544073

Publication Date: 2020

Written in the early days of the rise of world-wide fascism and the poet’s gender transition, x/ex/exis: poemas para la nación/poems for the nation accepts the invitation to push poetic and gender imaginaries beyond the bounds set by the nation. From teen dysphoria, to the incarceration of anticolonial activists Oscar López and Nina Droz Franco, to the entanglement of church and state, these poems acknowledge the violence of imposed binaries. For Salas Rivera, the x marks Puerto Rican transness in a world that seeks trans death, denial, and erasure. Instead of justifying his existence, he takes up the flag of illegibility and writes an apocalyptic book that screams into an uncertain future, armed with nothing to lose. In today's post-disaster Puerto Rico, Salas Rivera’s words feel visionary, mapping a decolonizing territory, a body, and identity of both soil and heart. 

Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness by Da’Shaun L. Harrison

Call Number: E185.86 .H376 2021

ISBN: 9781623175979

Publication Date: 2021

Da’Shaun Harrison–a fat, Black, disabled, and nonbinary trans writer–offers an incisive, fresh, and precise exploration of anti-fatness as anti-Blackness, foregrounding the state-sanctioned murders of fat Black men and trans and nonbinary masculine people in historical analysis. Policing, disenfranchisement, and invisibilizing of fat Black men and trans and nonbinary masculine people are pervasive, insidious ways that anti-fat anti-Blackness shows up in everyday life. Fat people can be legally fired in 49 states for being fat and they’re more likely to be houseless. Fat people die at higher rates from misdiagnosis or nontreatment and fat women are more likely to be sexually assaulted. And at the intersections of fatness, Blackness, disability, and gender, these abuses are exacerbated. Taking on desirability politics, the limitations of gender, the connection between anti-fatness and carcerality, and the incongruity of “health” for the Black fat, Harrison viscerally and vividly illustrates the myriad harms of anti-fat anti-Blackness. 

I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arceneaux

Call Number: E185.97.A69 A3 2018

ISBN: 9781501178856

Publication Date: 2018

Equality for LGBTQ people has come a long way and all, but voices of persons of color within the community are still often silenced, and being Black in America is…well, have you watched the news? With the characteristic wit and candor that have made him one of today’s boldest writers on social issues, I Can’t Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux’s impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at minority life in today’s America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite. He writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; being approached for the priesthood; his obstacles in embracing intimacy that occasionally led to unfortunate fights with fire ants and maybe fleas; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams.

Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

Call Number: HQ18.552 .V35 2020

ISBN: 9780593094655

Publication Date: 2020

In Beyond the Gender Binary, poet, artist, and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate Alok Vaid-Menon deconstructs, demystifies, and reimagines the gender binary. Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today's leading activists and artists. In this installment, Beyond the Gender Binary, Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full color. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination.