Reading and Listening for Justice: A Queer History of the United States

Welcome to the first post of the Reading and Listening for Justice series. I talked about it in a previous post, but just as a reminder, you can borrow this book either from the Great River Regional Library or from the Hennepin County Library

Book:  A Queer History of the United States for Young People by Michael Bronski 

What Led Me to the Book

I listened to this audiobook in 2021, so it has been a while and I can’t remember exactly why I chose to listen to it. I think part of it was the fact that it is for “young people”, so I was curious to hear how a book covering such a complex history would be written to target a younger audience. 

Why I Think Others Should Read This Book

This can be a good starting point for those who do not know much about the struggles of folks in the LGBTQ community, or a refresher for those who know some of the history (you are bound to learn some new stuff!). Like with most books addressing sexuality and sexual identity, there are some debates online on how the author defines and discusses some of these identities (especially his simplistic description of asexuality). Even with some of these issues, this is a good introductory book highlighting some of the important folks and important moments in queer history in the United States. 

Ramblings and Discussion

A lot of the books I read or listen to are non-fiction and focus on United States history. I didn’t grow up I the United States, which is a good and a bad thing when it comes to understanding our history. The bad thing is that I only had a cursory background on United States history: most of my high school history about the US emphasized the bad deeds of the country in Latin America. The good thing is that I don’t have the baggage most natural-born citizens have: learning about US history with a strong emphasis on the “good stuff” and limited focus on the complexities and hypocrisies of the country.  

Reading books like this reminds me that this country was built by a lot of people we never learn about in school. It reminds me that the struggles of today are shaped by events and people far removed from our collective consciousness, and learning about them gives me even more hope that we are on the right path, that we are in good company.  

LGBTQ history is United States history. The everyday struggle for rights, as basic as the right to exist, has influenced our country in direct and indirect ways ever since Europeans started to colonize the country. It is important for all of us to remember that.  

If you read this book, what are some of the most memorable people or events discussed in it? What are some of your criticisms of how the author discusses some of the identities he discussed?  

Whether you read the book or not, what are some ways we can foster a conversation about LGBTQ history in Central Minnesota? What are some important people and events in the region that everyone should know more about?