A Queer Book Haul

Two queer books this week, firstly Andrea Lawlor‘s novel, ‘Paul takes the form of a mortal girl’ which promises to be a sex-gender mindfuck of a romp:

‘It’s 1993 and Paul Polydorus tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines and is a flaneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Girrl to leather club, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco – a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and despair.’

My second book is ‘Love and Resistance’: a collection of photographs of US gay emancipation movements of the early sixties to the Gay Liberation Front by Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies.

This may be a slender book of 174 pages but within it presents many, fascinating images of a time of change both for the world and for LGBT rights.

We can see the vast change from the mid-1960s when the Mattachine Society was the main protest body in the U.S. and determined to show LGBT people as ordinary, upstanding, respectable citizens…

…to the leap into technicolour as the post-Stonewall Gay Liberation Front hits the streets and no longer asking for respect, demanding it:

There are some beautiful portraits of activists:

Marsha B Johnson (left) and Sylvia Riviera (right), trans activists who fought with the Gay Liberation Front as well as setting up STAR (Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries).

ST6

Rita Mae Brown, writer and activist, taking part in a protest at the National Organisation for Women (NOW) conference in 1970.  Leading feminist Betty Friedan had earlier warned NOW that lesbians threatened to derail the women’s movement, nicknaming them the ‘Lavender Menace’, so Brown and others decided that is exactly what they would become…

But what comes across is the innocence of the proto movement: a time when the LGBT community hadn’t yet adopted the uniforms and codifiers which both helped us to identify fellow travellers while allowing straight society stereotypes upon which they could hang their neuroses. We don’t see leather queens or butch bull dykes; glammed up drag queens or sleek trans people. These people are simply being, loving and fighting.

This is a beautiful book, one to treasure.

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