Pride month feels a little different this year. Some of the ways it’s been recognized for many years (like rainbow merch in Target) are suddenly controversial. Queer books are being banned at unprecedented rates in schools and libraries. Anti-trans legislation is at an all-time high, making some states so dangerous that experts recommend not even traveling there. So today’s newsletter is about queer activism. Because the first Pride was a riot, and Pride is always political. Pride is a protest.
Another crucial component of queer activism is mutual aid, which is why I want to highlight the Black Family Mutual Aid page today. Their page includes many queer and trans Black people raising money for survival, including Morgan M, a Black trans person trying to escape a state hostile to trans people.
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Respect Existence or Expect Resistance Shirt by SurPride
This design is a good reminder about what Pride is all about. $30+
Today, I have a couple of celesbian titles to showcase, plus a lot more YA and kidlit LGBTQ new releases — including a sapphic addition to the canon of horse girl lit (Sweet & Bitter Rivals) and a cute picture book about a girl with a crush on another girl (The Wishing Flower)!
Unfortunately, this week’s batch of new queer YA and kids’ book releases are disproportionately by white authors. Publishers, do better.
Girls Like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko (F/F YA Contemporary)
Seven years ago, Hayley Kiyoko dropped the Girls Like Girls music video, which was a real defining moment for sapphics. I remember watching it and wishing I could watch the full movie or read a novel-length version of it — and now we can! Hayley Kiyoko has used the music video as inspiration for her first novel.
Junior High by Tegan Quin, Sara Quin, and Tillie Walden (Lesbian Middle Grade Graphic Novel)
First there was Tegan and Sara’s memoir High School. Then it was adapted into a TV show. And now, we have a kind of prequel to the story in Junior High, a graphic novel illustrated by Tillie Walden! Walden is the author/illustrator of On a Sunbeam, along with other beloved graphic novels. This book is part memoir, part fictional version of Tegan and Sara’s junior high years, including their journey through music and to finding themselves.
Time Out by Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, and Carlyn Greenwald (Gay YA Contemporary)
Skating on Mars by Caroline Huntoon (Nonbinary Middle Grade Contemporary)
The Wishing Flower by A.J. Irving and Kip Alizadeh (Sapphic Picture Book)
For more new releases, check out our New Books newsletter!
In some ways, the fight for queer rights feels more crucial now than it has for decades. Hard-won victories are being rolled back. Queer people in general and trans women especially are facing an onslaught of hate, violence, and deadly legislation that has just increased in the past year.
But of course, this isn’t unprecedented. The story is of queer history is a story of protests, riots, and a never-ending fight for our rights. To move forward, we should look to the past. What can we learn from the political organizing of earlier activists? Here are a couple places to start.
Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 by Sarah Schulman
ACT UP was an activist group that made a huge impact on AIDS activism in the ’80s. In the New York Times review of this book, they say, “This is not reverent, definitive history. This is a tactician’s bible.” It draws on hundreds of interviews from ACT UP members, and it has plenty of lessons for activists today on both tactics and the pitfalls that can cause organizations like this to fracture.
Out North: An Archive Of Queer Activism And Kinship In Canada by Craig Jennex and Nisha Eswaran
Surprise! I’m Canadian. And like most of the rest of the world, it’s easy for me to know more about U.S. history and politics than my own country’s. The ArQuives is the largest independent LGBTQ2+ archive in the world, and in this coffee table book, they’ve collected fascinating artifacts that illustrate the history of queer people in Canada.
All the Links Fit to Click
Girls Like Girls was also reviewed at Autostraddle
Psst, hey, for those of you still reading: I’m doing a Pride month thing at the Lesbrary! There will be a post going up every day, with sapphic book lists and essays. I hope to see you there!