5 resources for learning about stonewall – the riots that launched the queer rights movement

hey beloveds. i had a post all ready to go teaching allies how to push their workplaces to become trans and non-binary affirming, but in light of the rebellion against racist oppression and police brutality sweeping the country, it seemed like we should talk about stonewall.

the stonewall riots against police brutality in 1969 launched pride and the queer rights movement as we know it. the riots lasted for days and included property destruction on the behalf of rioters (good for them). trans women of color — particularly a black trans woman, marsha p. johnson — were absolutely central to the stonewall riots. they are the mothers of our movement.

with those pieces of context in place, i’m going to link you to a few resources for learning about the stonewall riots. there is so much for us to learn from stonewall and so much that we must learn from stonewall. for those of you to whom this will be new information, welcome to your legacy. let’s live into it.

the making gay history podcast features interviews with queer figures and activists who were on the front lines of history. the show’s fifth season is entirely about stonewall. you’ll hear from many people about their parts in the riots, but most meaningfully to me, you’ll hear from marsha p. johnson and sylveria rivera.

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.” they have a dedicated stonewall episode, where they lay out a timeline, addressing which particular events are likely to be legends and which are likely to have occurred, based on the accounts available. i’m fascinated by many of the events that we have accounts of but which we somehow rarely talk about.

in this podcasts, you’ll hear about rioters dancing in a chorus line at the cops. i think there’s so much to glean from that embodied joy in the middle of a fight for those folks’ very lives. we deserve joy and pleasure and need it as part of our movement. i believe these ancestors show us that.

you can also read an account sylvia rivera gave about her involvement in stonewall in this talk she gave in 2001. she pulls absolutely no punches in it. my admiration of her grew and grew as i read it.

the next two resources i haven’t been able to engage with yet, but i saw them recommended multiple times as i learned about stonewall, so i’ve included them here.

david carter is often credited with writing the definitive history of stonewall in his book stonewall: the riots that sparked the gay revolution.

martin duberman’s stonewall: the definitive story of the lgbtq rights uprising that changed america includes interviews with folks about their firsthand accounts of stonewall, including marsha p. johnson.

learning more about stonewall, especially firsthand from the mouths of people who were there, gave me a greater understanding of the importance of what those folks were doing and the way they were doing it. i think there’s a lot to be learned about violence (what oppression and its agents do to the oppressed) and force (what the oppressed use to fight back against oppression and its agents) and why the latter is necessary. i think there is much to be celebrated. i hope we can move forward in the now with all this learning and that we non-black folks –especially we white folks — can support black people in fighting for their safety and freedom and lives.

if you have other resources you recommend for learning about the stonewall riots, please tell us about them in the comments.

stay safe out there, y’all. ❤

(want to support this project? donate to reclaim the block or black visions collective.)

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.)