DVD of the Week – So Called Equals (Pride Film Festival Collection)

Flag_of_Spain.svg“Pride is the excess of self-esteem that you have to summon daily to deal with the amount of threats, stupidities, and B.S. being said about you so that your legs don’t shake and so that you can keep on walking and trying to change things.”–Pedro Zerolo, PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party)

Gay_flag.svgDocumentary filmmakers Olga Rodríguez and Cinta Jiménez Cárabe share the stories of gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals in Spain.  So Called Equals includes personal conversations that allow viewers to connect with the documentary participants.  Through candid interviews about what it means to be gay, lesbian, or transgender; single or in a committed relationship; or fighting against homophobia and discrimination, viewers are given new perspectives on the evolution of human rights in Spain.  Historic events such as Gay Pride in the 1970s, the effect of “vagrancy” and “socially dangerous” laws, the AIDS crisis, and the passage of same-sex marriage legislation are also detailed.  This film is in Spanish with English subtitles.  So Called Equals is available in our Pride Film Festival Collection, which features films generously donated to the GLBT Library by the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

On Display: Matthew Shepard

matthew shepardIn anticipation of Judy Shepard’s October 22nd visit to Indiana University to present “The Meaning of Matthew,” the GLBTSSS Library has on display some items in our collection that celebrate the life and legacy of Matthew Shepard.

Stop by and see how this young man continues to inspire acts of courage and how his legacy resonates with all those who fight for equality.

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.

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 – About-face: A Gay Officer’s Account of How He Stopped Prosecuting Gays in the Army and Started Fighting for Their Rights

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! It’s time to celebrate and honor the lives of those who have served in our military, especially those who have lost their lives during service.

In light of this holiday, our featured book this week is About-face: A Gay Officer’s Account of How He Stopped Prosecuting Gays in the Army and Started Fighting for Their Rights by James E. Kennedy.

about face cover

Written in 1995, this book predates the recent repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a huge step forward in equal rights for our military. It contains the personal account of the author – a former captain and lawyer in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps (and a closeted gay man) who prosecuted and discharged LGBT soldiers. The book details his journey from closet to resignation and coming-out, to his work in the Clinton administration striving to change the military’s discriminatory policies.

History in the Making


LGBT History Month 2012

As LGBT history month draws to a close, we are reminded of those who pioneered the way for the freedoms we enjoy today, and that there is still much progress to be made. Equality Forum compiles a list of notable LGBT historical figures each year, and what is most remarkable about most of these individuals is not that they organized millions of people behind a cause or changed policies and laws single-handedly; what is remarkable about these individuals is that they were willing to stand out–and speak out–during times where to be anything but hetero-normative was a sentence for a lifetime as a societal outcast.

Pierre SeelPierre Seel (1923-2005) was imprisoned and tortured in a concentration camp during World War II because he was gay. After escaping from conscripted service in the German army and surrendering to the Allies, his imprisonment was not compensated or acknowledged by the French government. Neither were any of the others deported for their sexual orientation. In 1982, after having closeted himself for 37 years, he wrote an article for a French gay magazine in response to a prominent bishop’s anti-gay remarks. His memoir, “I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual” was published in 1994. And in 2003, he was finally recognized as a victim of the Holocaust.

Christine JorgensenChristine Jorgensen (1926-1989) was one of the first people to use hormone therapy to supplement her gender reassignment therapy. She was catapulted to fame when the New York Daily News intercepted a letter to her parents about her transformation and ran a story titled “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty.” She relocated to New York to speak out in support of transsexual and transgender people; Jorgensen moved into music and film, and toured the US speaking at colleges and universities about her story.



Tom Waddell's memoir, Gay OlympianTom Waddell (1937-1987) organized the Gay Games–an athletic event modeled on the Olympics that still takes place every 4 years, the most recent having been held in 2010. Waddell was part of the civil rights demonstrations in Alabama in the early 1960’s, and joined the army in 1966. He competed in the Olympics in 1968, after which he was a fellow at Stanford University. He came out to friends and family in the 1970’s, and inspired by a gay bowling league, he decided to create a unique sporting event where LGBT athletes could compete openly. Waddell lived to see the games become a great success, and died of AIDS-related complications in 1987.

Gloria AnzalduaGloria Anzaldua (1942-2004) “helped build a multicultural feminist movement and called for people of different races to move forward together.”  After teaching several courses in creative writing and Chicana studies & earning her master’s degree, she co-edited one of the most cited books in the history of feminist studies: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. She refused to write in only one language, and her writings contain two variations of English & six of Spanish, and all manner of in-betweens. She died while working on her doctorate, and was posthumously awarded a PhD by the University of California, Santa Cruz for her scholarly contributions.

Although it is no longer a danger to speak out publicly in support of the LGBT community in most of Western society, many people still suffer harassment and exclusion in silence. October is also anti-bullying month. Bullying can be as simple as one child tormenting another, or an institutionalized hostility against hundreds of thousands of people. We have seen great steps taken in our society within our lifetimes, yet without continual individual effort, we cannot move forward. I am reminded of the children’s book “Horton Hears a Who,” where no-one can hear the voices of the tiny people living on a dandelion puff except an elephant with exceptional hearing. But when they combine their voices, they are able to make themselves heard by everyone in the larger world: “We are here!” So we need to remember: we may not think our voice counts or has any influence on our surroundings, but if we all speak up, we will be heard.


For more information on LGBT historical and modern figures, check out http://www.lgbthistorymonth.com!


The early morning hours of June 28 will mark the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall riots.  Police raided a popular gay bar and the GLBT community banded together and fought back, resulting in riots that lasted for quite a few days after.  This rebellion, which took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village, was by no means the first or only of its kind, but it has become one of the most  famous turning points in the fight for LGBT rights.

LGBT celebrities discuss the importance of Stonewall in OURSceneTV’s 2009 video below.

Interested in learning more? The following resources are available in either the library’s collection or online.


Stonewall   [4.2101 DUBst 1993]




Stonewall: the riots that sparked the revolution   [4.2101 CARst 2004]



The Stonewall Archives Volume 1 : The Before Stonewall Interviews – This film covers American LGBT history from the 1920’s up to the 1969 Stonewall riot.    [DOC STON 2006]


 Street Theater  – The author, Doric Wilson, participated in the Stonewall riot and wrote this play with the purpose of capturing the essence of the atmosphere and people of Greenwich Village on the night of the riot rather than reenacting the exact event.  [9.304 WILst 1969]


Stonewall Uprising – This website gives a good general description and contains  a transcript of a PBS program featuring Stonewall.  Also included are links to interviews with  participants and Ed Koch, mayor of New York in 1969.   Primary resource articles from The New York Daily News and the Village Voice are also accessible from this page.


Gay Bars and Clubs

With last week marking the eighty-fifth year in existence of Amsterdam’s oldest gay bar, Cafe ‘t Mandje, and with the upcoming 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion next week, now is a good time to take a look at the topic of gay bars and clubs.  Although they have undoubtedly been a great source of entertainment and leisure, historically, they have also provided a comparatively safe place for LGBT culture to solidify and grow.

If you’re interested in this topic, then feel free to check out the library materials below.

 Small Town Gay Bar —  This 2007 documentary delves into the community role of rural gay bars in the Bible Belt

[DOC SMAL 2007]



 The Bar Stories: A Novel After All — A 1989 Lambda Literary Award winning novel that revolves around the lives of lesbians at a fictional San Fransisco bar.

[9.406 DONba 1989]


 An Evening at the Garden of Allah: A Gay Cabaret in Seattle — A historical look at the pre-Stonewall LGBT community that developed around this cabaret

[2.6404 PAUev 1996]


 Creating a Place for Ourselves: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community Histories— A history of LGBT life in the United States before the gay liberation movement that includes a look into community development in New York, San Franscisco,  Detroit, Washington, Birmingham and many other cities


Celebrating the Rainbow

“There’s an old saying among flag makers: A true flag can never be designed, but is torn from the soul of a people.” ~ Gilbert Baker*

Rainbow Books Poster in Wells Library Lobby
Rainbow Books Poster in Wells Library Lobby

Through the end of May, the GLBT Library will be celebrating the Rainbow Flag with a colorful display in the Wells Library Lobby.

In 1978, Gilbert Baker hand-dyed and sewed fabric to create the first Rainbow Flag for that year’s Gay Freedom Day Parade (now known as San Francisco Pride). While his original eight colors have been reduced to six (the original flag included pink and turquoise, while indigo has been replaced with royal blue), the flag has become an enduring symbol of gay pride.

The striped flag has had something of a checkered history. The article “Rainbow Banners and Gay Politics” in the North American Vexillological** Association newsletter discusses some of the political controversy surrounding the inclusion of Rainbow Flag banners during the 1979 Gay Freedom Day Parade (the same year that Harvey Milk, a friend of Baker, was murdered). To learn even more about flags and logos used by the LGBTQA community check out this Wikipedia article on LGBT symbols.

Baker discusses his creation in the video below, made by In the Life Media.


* Metro Weekly, 10/18/2007 http://metroweekly.com/feature/?ak=3031
** Vexillology = the study of flags http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vexillology