8 New Nonfiction Books about the LGBTQ Experience

Interested in real-life stories of LGBTQ people and history? Don’t miss these eight recent books covering a range of topics, from AIDS activism to gender identity.

Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 by Sarah Schulman

Part oral history and part memoir, this comprehensive account of ACT UP, the AIDS activist coalition founded in New York City in 1987, chronicles the group’s inner workings and achievements. Among the coalition’s triumphs: forcing the US Food and Drug Administration to allow sick people to access experimental drugs, ending insurance inclusion for those living with AIDS and fighting to change the legal definition of the disease to include women. Schulman, herself a member of ACT UP during the group’s heyday, draws upon years of interviews with more than 200 of the group’s members in this engrossing, definitive chronicle of one of the most successful activist groups in US history. (May 2021)

Queer Love in Color by Jamal Jordan

“How do you learn to love yourself and other people like you, when every cue in the world tells you it’s impossible?” That’s the question that inspired former New York Times multimedia journalist Jordan to travel thousands of thousands documenting the lives of LGBTQ people of color for Queer Love in Color, which pairs portraits of LGBTQ couples and families from around the world with stories of resilience, love and connection. One such pairing: Mike and Phil, a Detroit-based couple in their 70s who have been together since 1967. Their five-plus decades of love and commitment are among the stories now memorialized in this heartwarming, inspiring collection. (May 2021)

Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing: Essays by Lauren Hough

Any one of Hough’s many jobs — airman in the US Air Force, barista, bartender, cable guy — could make for good writing fodder, and she indeed authored a viral 2018 essay about her stint as a cable technician. in this New York Timess best-selling essay collection, Hough dives deeper into her personal history, recalling her fraught international upbringing in The Children of God cult and her experience as a lesbian in the Air Force during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ” it was. Despite the heavy subject matter, Hough’s mordant sense of humor and keen social insights buoy this compulsively readable memoir. (April 2021)

The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers by Mark Gevisser

A masterful look at the global frontiers of LGBTQ rights and identity in the 21st century, South African journalist Gevisser reports on the stories of LGBTQ people around the world in this timely and far-reaching analysis. His subjects included a transgender woman in Moscow fighting for custody of her child, a Ugandan refugee seeking a new home in Canada and a lesbian couple fighting for marriage equality in Mexico. These and other stories are used to advance the idea of ​​the “pink line,” the divide that exists between parts of the world in which LGBTQ rights are recognized and those in which they remain restricted. (July 2020)


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