The Stonewall Reader

Edited by the New York Public Library. Penguin Classics, $17 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-14-313351-3
This expansive collection of documents from the New York Public Library’s LGBTQ history archive constructs a vital and dynamic narrative of the early days of gay liberation through the words of activists, writers, and other eyewitnesses. The book follows the movement through the years just before Stonewall, the event itself, and the years after. Plenty of the essays and excerpts are not specifically about Stonewall, but provide a broader picture of inequality and persecution, as with the salacious press coverage of trans woman Christine Jorgensen’s transition. The riots are revisited from multiple perspectives: in one piece, activist and journalist Dick Leitsch recounts the events in more or less direct prose; the following piece, by a former Stonewall patron, more lyrically describes the incident as “Mother Stonewall giving birth to a new era.” This collection is significant for its inclusion of essays and selections from memoir that provide a more intimate understanding of the movement’s history. In a selection from Karla Jay’s memoir, the activist recalls protesting homophobia in the feminist community, and an interview with Kiyoshi Kuromiya explores the misogyny and racism in the early stages of the LGBTQ movement. This window into the daily lives of activists and ordinary people fighting passionately against injustice is illuminating and inspiring. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/10/2019
Release date: 04/30/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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