Book of the Week – Branded by the Pink Triangle

“Branded by the Pink Triangle” by Ken Setterington details the treatment and persecution of gay men by the Nazi regime during World War II. In concentration camps, a pink triangle was sewn into the prison uniforms of gay men, in the same way that the Star of David was used to identify Jewish individuals. This book includePinkTriangle_Setteringtons more than just an historic perspective on the brutal treatment of gay men by the Nazis; it also includes personal narratives from survivors. An extensive bibliography is also included which leads readers to other useful resources. “Branded by the Pink Triangle” was a 2014 Stonewall Book Award – Honor Book and is a significant contribution to this area of literature.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic check out these items from the GLBT Library:


Book of the Week – And the Band Played On

AndtheBandPlayedOnHow was AIDS introduced to the gay community? Why did it spread so quickly? Why did health officials and researchers seem so slow to respond as people died of this disease? The answers to these questions may seem straightforward, but And the Band Played On tells of the political battles, feuds between research groups, lack of knowledge, funding woes, and false starts that helped AIDS spread so rapidly across the United States and throughout the world.

Shilts’s work is occasionally heavy on statistics, but these numbers are essential to help the reader understand the spread and scope of the disease and the sheer number of lives effected. Overall, the book reads more like a novel than a textbook, making it easy to move through in spite of its size (650 pages). While the work focuses on the effect of AIDS on the gay community, it does not ignore the spread of AIDS through blood transfusions, shared needles, or heterosexual contact. Those who remember the AIDS crisis at its most frightening—when the body count skyrocketed but before there was any effective treatment—will remember such milestones as Rock Hudson announcing that he had AIDS or the disease being talked about in news-magazines such as TIME, and this book helps put those events in context historically.

Because this book was written in 1987, its contents may seem lacking, as it focuses on the beginning and height of the American AIDS crisis. AZT, the first truly effective treatment option for people with HIV, is introduced at the very end of the book, and the book makes no mention of more recent treatments or the crisis of AIDS in third-world nations. Therefore, this book should be understood as a historical snapshot rather than an all-encompassing look at the AIDS epidemic.

Occasionally graphic, often moving, and thoroughly sobering, this book is essential for anyone who seeks to understand the spread of AIDS and how it shaped public health policy, the gay community, and sexual politics.

If you’re interested in And the Band Played On, you’d also enjoy We Were Here (available on DVD at the GLBT library) and Bad Blood (on DVD but not in the GLBT library collection).

Written by: Jamie, GLBTSSS Office Supervisor

DVD of the Week – Plan B

Plan BA small, quiet, slice-of-life indie film from Argentine director Marco Berger, Plan B follows two young men–Bruno and Pablo–as their relationship moves from friendship to romance.  The title concerns the conceit of the film: Bruno seeks revenge on the girl that dumped him by befriending her new boyfriend–Pablo–hoping to force a wedge between them somehow.  However, his devious schemes to break up the new couple go awry when he begins to fall for Pablo himself.  The plot sounds like the makings of a screwball comedy, but the action here is very gentle and honest.  The film thoughtfully explores the ways both men grapple with their sexuality and make sense of a situation they did not expect to find themselves in.

Book of the Week — Gay Bar: The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s

gay barIn 1950s and ‘60s Los Angeles, Helen Branson, then 60-something years old, owned and operated a bar for homosexual men.  This was before the game-changing Stonewall riots, and during a time when the men who patronized bars like Helen’s were more-or-less closeted and extremely cautious, lest their livelihoods and lives be threatened by revelations of their true selves.  Though she approved of a clientele of only quiet and conservative gay men, Helen was fiercely loyal to and protective of those who came to her establishment—she called them, affectionately, “her boys.”  Hers was a safe place, one of few during what was arguably the darkest period in America’s history for LGBTQ people. 

Describing the bar’s clandestine nature, its air of so-called “normalcy,” Helen writes:

The average heterosexual or straight person is not aware that bars catering to this group are in existence.  Any large city has many of them . . . If someone says, “Have you been to Helen’s,” the answer can often be, “No, where’s that?”  The querist has to give detailed directions for finding it, since the outside is very, very inconspicuous. (23-4) 

In this new edition of Gay Bar (the original was published in 1957), Will Fellows provides fascinating historical context, using letters and articles from homocentric publications of the time—particularly ONE and the Mattachine Review—to shine a light on just what life was like for gay people in the 1950s and 60s.  In this way, this small, but enlightening, book offers both a bit of scholarly depth and the informal tone of a memoir.

Pride Film Festival Highlight – Tel Aviv is Very Gay

We recently added selections from the Bloomington Pride Film Festival from years past to our collection. Here is one of the new additions!

Tel Aviv Is Very Gay


In a part of the world often engulfed with constant cultural conflict, this film takes a look at the vibrant LGBT community within Tel Aviv, Israel. The documentary follows several gay rights activists putting on a city supported pride parade, survivors of a shooting at a gay community center, and other Tel Aviv activists speaking out about the queer issues in the Middle East. Numerous members of local GLBT groups in the community fight against the dominant culture and government, demonstrating that Tel Aviv is not as socially conservative as it seems.

Book of the Week – Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America

outinthecountryThere are numerous publications that focus on queer, urban life in locations such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. In her book Out in the Country, Mary L. Gray expands the scope of study on queer living by providing an ethnography and cultural exploration of queer youth in Appalachia and rural Kentucky. Gray illustrates how LGBT youth and their allies contend with the economic and social confines of the public places in their neighborhoods. Additionally, she discusses how they network online in order to find resources and connect with queer individuals across the country. Gray works to deconstruct the stereotypes attached to rural life and encourages the reader to think critically about the notion of American spaces.

Book of the Week – The Geography of Love: Same-Sex Marriage & Relationship Recognition in America (The Story in Maps)

1481178865.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_The Geography of Love is a brief (at only 36 pages), but concise overview of the legal and political history of same-sex relationship recognition — from the first lawsuit filed in 1970 in Minnesota to the new marriage laws approved by voters in November 2012. Additionally, the publication details and maps out information including: which states permit same-sex couples to marry or enter into other types of legal unions; the extent to which same-sex relationships entered into one state are recognized by other states; and which cities and counties have domestic partnership registries and equal benefits ordinances. Nicolas and Strong present the data in an accessible manner so that all readers, regardless of their knowledge of the law, can understand their discussions.

Book of the Week – 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live

50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live takes a personal approach to exploring some ofthe United States’ most LGBTQA*-friendly cities, and what makes each of them unique.

50 Fabulous Gay-friendly Places to Live Book Cover

If you’re a student, you might want to look into some of these cities to contemplate where to focus your job search. If you’re a recent graduate, chances are you’ll be moving soon – why not find out a potential new place to call home?

This volume covers what makes each city so special to both vacationers and permanent residents, and includes information like local politics & policies, nightlife, cultural insights, and health programs, to help make transitioning to these cities as smooth as possible.

Book of the Week – Gay Pride: A Celebration of All Things Gay & Lesbian

Rainbow Flag

It’s Pride month! A time when festivals, parades, and rainbow-themed events are happening in almost every city in the US.

But what do LGBTQIA* individuals have to be proud about? You mean besides the fact that they embraced their identity despite the current social climate and the possibility of discrimination? Well you might want to take a look at Gay Pride: A Celebration of All Things Gay & Lesbian, then.

Gay Pride Book Cover

From the ancient Greeks to San Francisco, from Alan Turing to the LGBT ally next door, this book sings the praises of the queer pioneers, past and present, who have made the world a braver, bolder, and better place–for everyone!

More recent additions to the library!

Here are some more of our recent acquisitions, just waiting to jump from our shelves into your hands! Want to find something you read about here? Search our Library Thing catalog, or email!

Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America – by Christopher Bram

Eminent Outlaws Book CoverThis volume explores how the trailblazing, post-war gay literary figures, including Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, and Allen Ginsberg, paved the way for newer generations, including Armistead Maupin, Edmund White, and Edward Albee that are so familiar to the literary-minded LGBT readers of today.






Almost Perfect – by Brian Katcher

Almost Perfect Book CoverLogan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student breezes through the halls of his small-town high school. Sage Hendricks befriends Logan at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. Sage has been homeschooled for a number of years and her parents have forbidden her to date anyone, but she won’t tell Logan why. One day, Logan acts on his growing feelings for Sage. Moments later, he wishes he never had. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at Sage and disowns her. Once Logan comes to terms with what happened, he reaches out to Sage in an attempt to understand her situation. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be.

Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama – by Alison Bechdel

Are You My Mother Book CoverAlison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It’s a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother—to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.

Body Outlaws: Young Women Write About Body Image and Identity

Body Outlaws Book CoverIn a culture where plastic surgery has become nearly as routine as a root canal, we’ve all but erased the unmodified figure from our imaginations. Pick up a magazine, turn on the TV, and you’ll find few women who haven’t been fried, dyed, plucked or tucked. In short, you’ll see no body outlaws.

In fresh and incisive essays, the writers in Body Outlaws reveal a world where bodies come in all their many-splendored shapes, sizes, colors and textures. In doing so, they expand the national dialogue about body image to include race, ethnicity, sexuality and power – issues that, while often overlooked, are intimately linked to how women feel about their bodies. Filled with honesty and humor, this groundbreaking anthology offers stories by women who have chosen to ignore, subvert, or redefine the dominant beauty standard in order to feel at home in their bodies.

Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians – by Candace Chellew-Hodge

Bulletproof Faith Book CoverThis thoughtful, practical guide shows readers a way through the minefield of condemnation and persecution faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians and helps foster a faith that is bulletproof—impervious to attacks, yet loving and savvy in its approach. Bulletproof Faith is filled with useful insights and proven spiritual practices that deflect attacks and enhance and strengthen faith by turning attacks into opportunities for spiritual growth.




Conundrum – by Jan Morris

Conundrum Book CoverThe great travel writer Jan Morris was born James Morris. James Morris distinguished himself in the British military, became a successful and physically daring reporter, climbed mountains, crossed deserts, and established a reputation as a historian of the British empire. He was happily married, with several children. To all appearances, he was not only a man, but a man’s man.

Except that appearances, as James Morris had known from early childhood, can be deeply misleading. James Morris had known all his conscious life that at heart he was a woman.

Conundrum, one of the earliest books to discuss transsexuality with honesty and without prurience, tells the story of James Morris’s hidden life and how he decided to bring it into the open, as he resolved first on a hormone treatment and, second, on risky experimental surgery that would turn her into the woman that she truly was.

Cunt: A Declaration of Independence – by Inga Muscio

Cunt Book CoverAn ancient title of respect for women, the word “cunt” long ago veered off this noble path. Inga Muscio traces the road from honor to expletive, giving women the motivation and tools to claim “cunt” as a positive and powerful force in their lives. With humor and candor, she shares her own history as she explores the cultural forces that influence women’s relationships with their bodies.




Emerald City Blues – by Jean Stewart

Emerald City Blues Book CoverWhen the comfortable yuppie world of Chris Olson and Jenifer Hart collides with the desperate lives of Reb and Flynn, two lesbian runaways struggling to survive on the streets of Seattle, the forcast is trouble. A gritty, enormously readable novel of contemporary lesbigay life which raises real questions about the meaning of family and community, and about the walls we construct. A celebration of the healing powers of love.





The Evolution of Ethan Poe – by Robin Reardon

Evolution of Ethan Poe Book CoverEthan Poe, sixteen and gay, struggles for balance while his life conspires to pull him in many different directions. His parents are divorcing; his older brother Kyle is damaging his right hand in the name of purity; his best friend is a Jesus freak who prays for him to be straight; he’s desperate to get his driver’s license, but he can’t seem to get enough supervised driving time. He’s just starting to see light in the form of Max Modine, a boy he wants to know much better than he does, when his rural Maine town begins to explode around him. Against his intentions he gets pulled into a pitched and sometimes violent conflict about whether to introduce Intelligent Design into science classrooms. Friendships end, families are torn apart, and the school becomes a battleground. Always seeking elusive balance, Ethan finds his way through a maze of lost friends, new love, and the mysteries of tattoos and power animals, with help from quarters where he never expected to find it. And he gains something better than balance.

Feeling Wrong in Your Own Body: Understanding What it Means to be Transgender

Feeling Wrong in Your Own Body  Book CoverBoys who play with Barbie dolls. Girls who join the football team. What is gender? What are gender roles? What’s the difference between being a tomboy and being transgender? Is it possible to be in the wrong body?

Explore the answers to these questions with an easy-to-follow examination of what it means to be transgender, based on personal experiences of the men and women who have taken steps to transition. Learn from the experiences of transgender young people who make the significant choice to live openly as another gender while still in high school. Uncover the reality of this often-misunderstood group and how it fits into the gay community.