CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 17. . . .January 8, 2016
As I sit here, I am wearing a pair of rainbow shoes that I purchased while at my first San Francisco Pride parade this year (2015). The fact that there are such products available is a sign of the times, and one that (though corporate and questionable to some degree) is actually pretty amazing, considering the position of gay and lesbian individuals just 50 years ago. Since the Stonewall riots of 1969, there have been many books written on the subject of homosexuality, Pride, and numerous LGBT movements and activist groups. So how does Robin Stevenson’s Pride differ from these previous titles? Allow me to start from the beginning.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) history has seen considerable scrutiny as of late, for the erasure of various identities, most notably transgender and non-white individuals. Many resources have been written by white, heterosexual, and non-transgender authors, and many of these have neglected the significant contributions of transgender activists, women, and people of colour throughout LGBT history. Stevenson, who identifies as lesbian, has done a remarkable job of examining Pride in its many iterations and global contexts while also making this history accessible to younger audiences.
Pride is a fantastic achievement, a book that gives serious attention to often ignored groups within LGBT history. If you have ever been to a Pride event in North America, you can see the whitewashed and corporate influences that have made Pride the celebration it is today. What this does for young people, however, is ignore the complicated history of Pride and the activism that forms the groundwork of the celebrations we see today. Without transgender individuals, people of colour, women, and indigenous influences, Pride, as we know it, would be unrecognizable.
Stevenson’s account of the history of Pride is peppered with historical photos and documents, personal stories—including Stevenson’s own—“Queer Facts,” and highlights of the growing Pride movements around the globe, many of which all too often become background noise on global news stations. Canadian transgender and queer artists are highlighted throughout, and full-colour photographs give a glimpse into the many different ways in which gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, two-spirit, and other sexual minority individuals celebrate their differences. While many books on sexual minorities fail to recognize non-normative gender identities, Stevenson dives right into the complexities of intersex and transgender individuals and their struggles to fit into gay and lesbian movements. She also purposefully and successfully points readers to Pride celebrations outside of North America, including Uganda, Korea, and Peru, though she also includes many of the larger celebrations, such as those in Toronto, New York, and San Francisco. Even though the book is Canadian and does give much of its attention to Canadian LGBT politics, Stevenson ensures that readers will better understand Pride and history on a global scale.
Of course, what makes this book suitable and relevant to young readers is the emphasis that Stevenson places on youth involvement in contemporary and historical celebrations and activism. A number of the personal accounts and quotes throughout the book are also from young people. This is an incredibly detailed account, considering the short page count, and Pride should be shelved in school libraries and classrooms alike as a more contemporary companion to Ken Setterington’s Branded by the Pink Triangle.
Rob Bittner is a graduate of the MA in Children’s Literature program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. He is currently a PhD candidate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.