five resources for teaching kids queer history during self-isolation

i’ve seen a lot of posts going around about how to full-on homeschool your kids during this time of self-isolation due to covid-19. those posts are overwhelming to me as an adult human (i shudder to think how they feel to kids) and i tend to follow the argument that it’s of the utmost importance right now to give kids time, space, and help to process all the feelings they have regarding covid-19 and its subsequent disruption to their lives.

so my intention with this post is not to create a queer history curriculum for folks to fill their children’s lives with, for that reason and because now is a good time to dream bigger about how education could be healthier than our current model is. educate outside the box! remember that children need time to play! remember that they deserve the space to make their own decisions about how to live their lives! remember also that not all children have the resources to continue their education on as it would have been — their parents are essential workers (may they stay safe) or they don’t have internet access or any of a myriad of other equity issues. (this is a good time to become activists for these things and bring your kids along — lots to learn about civic engagement there.)

also, i want to recognize that teachers have many years of expertise in a profession that they’re continuously developing in. it’s unkind to yourself as a parent to expect to reach that standard — of course you can’t recreate the fifth grade on no notice in the middle of a global pandemic. now is an excellent time to be grateful that we raise children in community, that our community members develop and share skills that we don’t have to enrich our lives and the lives of our young ones.

with all those things in mind, if you’re looking to widen your children’s — and your own — historical literacy regarding queerness and queer people, which we are tragically unlikely to be exposed to in school, i do have resources for you. please be good to yourself and to your kids in your use of them.

making gay history podcast: the making gay history podcast features interviews with queer historical figures and activists. you get to hear directly from sylvia rivera, marsha p. johnson, and many, many others about what their lives were like and what they believe/d about queer liberation. all episodes have transcripts, in case you find yourself needing them, and the podcast has an accompanying instagram.

some episodes of making gay history that i highly recommend include:

queer as fact: the queer as fact podcast features a team of historical researchers giving and discussing the biographies of queer people “across the world and throughout time.” the podcast provides content warnings at the beginning of each episode and the hosts discuss their research methods and evaluate their sources, a useful skill for all of us navigating information literacy in a social media world to learn. the podcast also has a sub-series within its feed which discusses queer representation in fictional media: queer as fiction.

queer as fact has an accompanying tumblr, where they curate additional resources, interact with their audience, and post pictures related to their episodes. you can follow them on twitter and facebook as well.

some favorite queer as fact episodes of mine include:

@lgbt_history instagram: @lgbt_history on instagram is a great account to follow to see pics from queer historical events. documenting the titans of movements as well as everyday folks, @lgbt_history is a great launch point for further investigation and a great reminder that we’ve always been here. they also have a list of book recs!

queer: a graphic history: this book is among my favorite tools for understanding queerness to share with others. an illustrated walk through queer history, queer theory, and a glossary of queer terms, this book is full of great information made easy to understand and delightful to read.

stone butch blues: a novel written by queer powerhouse leslie feinberg, stone butch blues is an important read for anyone wanting to understand queer history in the united states. in the author’s own words, stone butch blues is “a highly political polemic, rooted in its era, and written by a white communist grass-roots organizer.” feinberg worked to make this work free before hir death; you can download it on hir website (linked above).

please recommend more queer history resources in the comments below! happy learning!

(want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a thai tea on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.)

7 thoughts on “five resources for teaching kids queer history during self-isolation

  1. I love all these (I even donate regularly to one), but (except Queer) they’re mostly piecemeal history – great for highlighting that queer folk have existed, not as much for relating our past to the broader sweeps of history. If you have an older kid (myb jr high, more likely high school) with a decent grasp of the sweep of US history for background context, a good resource might be the podcast Queer America. It’s intended as a resource *for* teachers, but it’s very aproachable, and great for a broader/systemic history (though limited to pulling out threads of queer history within the standard time/geography frames of expected “US History”)

    I also rec the podcast, Mattachine: a queer serial, for a deep dive into a specific subject in a way that feels very homeschool-appropriate (I think it’s also a good lesson in how complicated/messy movements/organizing tend to be, generally.) If assigned to a kid, it might also be appropriate to gently push back adjust the tendency to frame Mattachine as the whole of gay organizing at the time – which select episodes of both Making Gay History & Queer As Fact would do perfectly.

    If you have older kids who would be comforted by a challenge (I’m thinking my own nerds when they were 16/17) & access to ordering books, Queer In(justice) could be awesome. It covers a decent amount of time in US history, while directly tying to a narrative of issues that are still present/fucked in the present day (which sometimes really helps with kids & the “why should I care?”), & has some analysis/theory work while still being fairly direct/clear/accessible.

    Last note: Stone Butch Blues is a classic & a treasure, but it’s also deeply brutal (the first hundred pages feature maybe 10 gang rapes), & in particular is suffused with a violence that makes any stability, normalcy, safety impossible for the protagonist. Reading it right now might undermine coping attempts for kids currently living through uncertain, traumatic times – especially if they’re not at a place where they’re able to understand/talk about why they might be off. Ivan Coyote covers some similar material, but with more hope/joy-in-people & with honest but less forced-into-the-moment detailing of violence/trauma (systemic & acute). None of their books are free like Blues, but libraries might have ebook copies, & there are many recorded readings/story-telling performances by Ivan on YouTube.

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    • this is all such great, detailed information! thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into this. i am not familiar with the podcasts you mention, which is really exciting! i love getting introduced to new podcasts.

      i also appreciate your insight into all these resources, especially Stone Butch Blues. i love that novel very much, but you are correct that it is very intense. thank you for expanding on why and for the info about alternatives!

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  2. Pingback: six resources for teaching cis folks you’re stuck with during self-isolation about trans identities | genderfuckery and other uprisings

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