Learn More About the LGBT Civil Rights Movement with These Books

Starting Feb. 27th, ABC’s new television mini-series When We Rise will follow the personal and political struggles of the LGBT Civil Rights movement in the United States. The show will be based on true events, starting with the Stonewall riots of 1969. In the spirit of this, here are six non-fiction books you can read to learn more about the movement and some of the key figures that made it possible.

1) A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski



Michael Bronski has combed through all of American history chronicling all non-heterosexual activity. That’s right, starting from when Columbus landed in 1492 until it’s publication, Bronski has compiled details of LGBT history that may have been lost or forgotten along the way.   


2) Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter


After an altercation with New York City police at The Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village, the LGBT community, including key figure, Marsha P. Johnson, banded together and rioted for several days. This was partly a catalyst for gay activist groups across the United States, yet its details were largely unknown. Through countless interviews, public files, and extensive research, David Carter has brought the riots back to life in his account of what happened back in 1969.


3) And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts


From the late 1980s and into the 90s, the LGBT community faced tremendous hardship as the AIDS crisis escalated throughout the country. Randy Shilt’s reporting on the epidemic recounts the origin of the virus’ spread and the government’s ignorance of the crisis.   


4) Tango: My Childhood, Backward, and in High Heels by Justin Vivian Bond


Cabaret recording and performance artist Justin Vivian Bond details what it was like to confront gender norms while growing up in rural Maryland. Bond’s coming-of-age memoir is candid and humorous while asking the important questions in terms of what it’s like to parent a trans/queer child and how society treats the queer community.  


5) Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde


In her collection of essays and speeches, feminist lesbian writer, Audre Lorde tackles several topics that have affected her and many others including racism, class, and homophobia. Her prose is striking and lyrical, cementing Lorde as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.


6) When We Rise: My Life in the Moment by Cleve Jones



Cleve Jones’ memoir about living as a gay man in San Francisco shows how the Castro district blossomed into a LGBT haven, how he co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and how a man named Harvey Milk became an outspoken, gay official. Jones’ memoir is part of the inspiration behind the ABC mini-series, which shares the same name. 


There are plenty more books that could have been on this list, let us know which ones you would like to see!