Celebrating LGBTQ Pride 2020

1. The children of Harvey Milk: how LGBTQ politicians changed the world
Reynolds, Andrew. Oxford, 2018

What has caused many people and societies to decide that homosexuality is acceptable and that gay and transgender men and women deserve rights and legal equality? In a labor of impressive scholarship, Reynolds (political science, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) demonstrates that LGBTQ individuals serving openly in the political realm have been the major instigators of this change. He makes his point in a collection of historical, exciting, and moving stories—stories with endings both tragic and happy. In the very beginning, Reynolds tells of Harvey Milk (1930–78) but also of Gilbert Baker (1951–2017), who created and sewed together the iconic rainbow flag. He includes histories of LGBTQ political advances from the South Pacific, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. The diverse geographies of his vignettes remind one that along with the solid victories in the West, countless gay and transgender people throughout the world live continuously in the face of extreme violence.
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2. When Brooklyn was queer
Ryan, Hugh. St. Martin’s, 2019

Ryan, an independent writer and historian, charts the history of queer Brooklyn from 1855 until 1969 through stories of the queer waterfront, the criminalization of queer behaviors and bodies, World War II, and “the great erasure,” where the book ends in 1969. This text broadens the queer geography of New York City beyond Harlem and Greenwich Village and extends the queer community beyond the standard binary of gay men and lesbians to encompass an inclusive and expansive assemblage of people. Perhaps more important, the author addresses erasure: the social and political forces between 1945 and 1969 that forced many queer spaces to close and queer people to migrate. Ryan weaves a compelling narrative that enlivens queer history for advanced scholars and undergraduates alike. The book ends on a hopeful note: “New queer history is being written; old queer history is being restored to its proper place.
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3. Is gender fluid?: a primer for the 21st century
Hines, Sally. Thames & Hudson, 2018

Well-published scholar of sociology and gender Sally Hines (Univ. of Leeds) offers a unique introductory text to the field of gender studies and some of its central concerns. While contemporary theory might simply answer the title’s question with a succinct and resounding “yes,” the scrapbook or zine-inspired layout invites readers to explore the question through a spectrum of disciplinary approaches. The text is presented as a primer: with many eye-catching images, differing font sizes highlighting key concepts, and coverage of current media events, it is well crafted to appeal to audiences new to addressing questions of gender diversity and fluidity. While not offering a novel theoretical or empirical contribution, the text presents an overview of the way in which political theory, feminist theory, psychology, science, arts, and media have contributed to contemporary understandings of gender around the world, from ancient Greece to contemporary China. By moving across history and geography, Hines reinforces the concept that gender is always contextual.
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4. Transgender cinema
Bell-Metereau, Rebecca Louise. Rutgers, 2019

This concise introduction to transgender cinema seems to be at the right place at the right time. Transgender rights and struggles have become amplified in the media, so a guide to the history and depth of transgender cinema is overdue. Bell-Metereau’s overview of the history of transgender film is succinct and valuable, but what is particularly important in this addition to the “Quick Takes” series is the author’s introduction of less-familiar and foreign transgender films to readers who may not be familiar with the mode. Bell-Metereau (Texas State Univ.) delivers in-depth analyses of Georgie Girl (2001), The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (2005), Boy I Am (2006), and Girl Inside (2007), among other films, and her thought-provoking descriptions make one want to run to Hulu or Netflix to find the films. She made the wise decision to discuss how the introduction of new platforms of delivery in the past decade has expanded options for viewing such films.
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5. The outside thing: modernist lesbian romance 
Roche, Hannah. Columbia, 2019

Roche (Univ. of York) explores lesbian themes within traditional, modern romances. Her title comes from Gertrude Stein lecture titled “An American and France” (1936), in which Stein described herself as “outside,” geographically and sexually: an expatriate and a lesbian. Divided into three sections, The Outside Thing focuses on the lives and works of three writers: Stein, Radclyffe Hall, and Djuna Barnes. Part 1 (the first two chapters) develops a theory of romance by analyzing Stein’s first novel, Q.E.D. (1903), and by chronicling the relationship of Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Part 2 (chapters 3 and 4) follows a similar pattern, first analyzing Hall’s novel The Well of Loneliness (1928) as more than a traditional romance, then exploring the personal relationship of Hall and Evguenia Souline. The final two chapters scrutinize bisexual themes in Djuna Barnes’s fiction and journalism; the second of these is dedicated to Barnes’s novel Nightwood (1936). Throughout the volume, illustrations aptly complement Roche’s cultural and biographical investigations.
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6. After queer studies: literature, theory and sexuality in the 21st century ed. by Tyler Bradway and E. L. McCallum Cambridge, 2019

In After Queer Studies, Bradway (State Univ. of New York College at Cortland) and McCallum (Michigan State Univ.) bring together wide-ranging essays that provide a wonderfully diverse survey of the current state in the field(s) of queer studies. In fact, one of the collection’s strengths is its recognition that there are a great many divergent paths that scholars engaged in the study of sexuality, LGBTQ communities, and the arts have taken in the past few years. The essays, taken together, are consciously aware of those paths and their histories. Accordingly, the volume is not just a collection of new materials; it is also a collection that provides a sense of the history of the field. The refreshing diversity of subject matter (canonical literature, comics, camp performance art) and identity representation nicely parallels the diversity in critical approaches and methodologies.
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7. Video games have always been queer
Ruberg, Bonnie. New York University, 2019

Ruberg’s latest book unites LGBTQ theory, game studies, and close reading. It draws on a theoretical and practical understanding of the two subjects, making connections for the reader between theory and the affective experiences of gaming and “queerness.” This title distinguishes itself from Ruberg’s anthology Queer Game Studies (CH, Oct’17, 55-0654, coedited with Shaw) by focusing on the methodology of close reading. Analyses of games are paired with particular works of LGBTQ theory, looking for “resonances” between the two that create new meaning. Ruberg purposefully looks beyond games with LGBTQ representation, focusing instead on symbolism, mechanics, and players’ experiences to lay claim to games that are not at first glance identifiable (or designed intentionally) as “queer.” The book’s premise and methods may be controversial—particularly, as the author speculates, among the gaming community. Ruberg anticipates and addresses incredulity in several sections, including chapter 2, “Getting Too Close.”
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