Invisible Identities | Recommended Reading

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All the resources listed below are available free for GVSU students, faculty, and staff through the University Libraries using your GVSU login credentials. Special thanks to University librarians Amber Dierking and Kim Ranger for their support of our exhibition reading lists.

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Cover of 'The gay revolution : the story of the struggle' by Lillian Faderman

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

The gay revolution: The Story of the Struggle

Lillian Faderman
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015

The fight for gay and lesbian civil rights -- the years of injustice, the early battles, the defeats, and the victories beyond the dreams of the gay rights pioneers -- is an important civil rights issue of the present day. In this book, Lillian Faderman tells this unfinished story through the accounts of passionate struggles with sweep, depth, and feeling. The Gay Revolution begins in the 1950s, when gays and lesbians were criminals, psychiatrists saw them as mentally ill, churches saw them as sinners, and society victimized them with hatred. Against this dark backdrop, a few brave people began to fight back, paving the way for the revolutionary changes of the 1960s and beyond. Faderman discusses the protests in the 1960s; the counter reaction of the 1970s and early eighties; the decimated but united community during the AIDS epidemic; and the current hurdles for the right to marriage equality.

Cover of 'Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue' by Nicholas M. Teich

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue

Teich, Nicholas M.
New York: Columbia University Press, 2012

"Written by a social worker, popular educator, and member of the transgender community, this resource combines a portrait of transgenderism with a history of transgender life and its unique experiences of discrimination. Chapters introduce transgenderism and its psychological, physical, and social processes; describe the coming out process and its effect on family and friends; discuss the relationship between sexual orientation and gender; and explore the differences between transsexualism and lesser-known types of transgenderism. Each chapter explains how transgender individuals handle their gender identity, how others view it within the context of non-transgender society, and how the transitioning of genders is made possible. Featuring men who become women, women who become men, and those who live in between and beyond traditional classifications, this book is written for students, professionals, friends, and family members"

- Book Cover

Cover of 'Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity' by Micah Rajunov and A. Scott Duane

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity

Edited by Micah Rajunov and A. Scott Duane
New York: Columbia University Press, 2019

What happens when your gender doesn't fit neatly into the categories of male or female? Even mundane interactions like filling out a form or using a public bathroom can be a struggle when these designations prove inadequate. In this groundbreaking book, thirty authors highlight how our experiences are shaped by a deeply entrenched gender binary.The powerful first-person narratives of this collection show us a world where gender exists along a spectrum, a web, a multidimensional space. Nuanced storytellers break away from mainstream portrayals of gender diversity, cutting across lines of age, race, ethnicity, ability, class, religion, family, and relationships. 

Cover of 'Sister Outsider' by Audre Lourde

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Audre Lorde
Berkeley: Crossing Press, 2007

Sister Outsider presents essential writings of black poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, an influential voice in 20th century literature. In this varied collection of essays, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, offering a message of struggle but also of hope. 

cover of 'Boy Erased' by Garrard Conley

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family

Garrard Conley
New York: Riverhead Books, 2017

"The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to "cure" him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness. By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heart-breaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds."

- Publisher's website

Cover of 'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

The Color Purple

Alice Walker
New York: Pocket Books, 1985

Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to "Mister," a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister's letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

How to Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide for Exploring Who You Are

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

How to Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide for Exploring Who You Are

Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker
London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018

Have you ever questioned your own gender identity? Do you know somebody who is transgender or who identifies as non-binary? Do you ever feel confused when people talk about gender diversity?This down-to-earth guide is for anybody who wants to know more about gender, from its biology, history and sociology, to how it plays a role in our relationships and interactions with family, friends, partners and strangers. It looks at practical ways people can express their own gender, and will help you to understand people whose gender might be different from your own. With activities and points for reflection throughout, this book will help people of all genders engage with gender diversity and explore the ideas in the book in relation to their own lived experiences.

Art and Queer Culture book cover

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Art & Queer Culture

Catherine Lord and Richard Meyer
London : Phaidon Press, 2013.

Spanning 125 years, Art and Queer Culture is the first major historical survey to consider the ways in which the codes and cultures of homosexuality have provided a creative resource for visual artists. Attempts to trouble the conventions of gender and sexuality, to highlight the performative aspects of identity and to oppose the tyranny of the normal are all woven into the historical fabric of homosexuality and its representation. From Oscar Wilde to Ryan Trecartin, from the molly houses of eighteenth-century London to the Harlem drag balls of the 1920s, the flamboyant refusal of social and sexual norms has fuelled the creation of queer art and life throughout the modern period. Although the book proceeds in a chronological fashion, it does not propose a progressive narrative in which homosexuals become increasingly adept at negotiating the circumstances of censorship and overcoming the terms of stigma and invisibility. The dialogue between art and queer culture does not move towards ever more affirmative images of equality and dignity. Rather than countering homophobia with 'positive' images of assimilation, many of the artists and photographers featured in this book draw upon, and even draw out, the deviant force of homosexuality. Art and Queer Culture includes not only pictures made and displayed under the rubric of fine art but also those intended for private, underground or otherwise restricted audiences. Scrapbooks, amateur artworks, cartoons, bar murals, anonymous photographs, activist posters--all appear in its pages, as do paintings, sculptures, art photographs and video installations. Writing queer culture into the history of art means redrawing the boundaries of what counts as art as well as what counts as history. It means searching for cracks in the partition that separates 'high' art from 'low' culture and in the divide between public achievement and private life.

Cruising Utopia book cover

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

José Esteban Muñoz
New York: New York University Press, 2009

The LGBT agenda for too long has been dominated by pragmatic issues like same-sex marriage and gays in the military. It has been stifled by this myopic focus on the present, which is short-sighted and assimilationist. Cruising Utopia seeks to break the present stagnancy by cruising ahead. Drawing on the work of Ernst Bloch, José Esteban Muñoz recalls the queer past for guidance in presaging its future. He considers the work of seminal artists and writers such as Andy Warhol, LeRoi Jones, Frank O’Hara, Ray Johnson, Fred Herko, Samuel Delany, and Elizabeth Bishop, alongside contemporary performance and visual artists like Dynasty Handbag, My Barbarian, Luke Dowd, Tony Just, and Kevin McCarty in order to decipher the anticipatory illumination of art and its uncanny ability to open windows to the future. In a startling repudiation of what the LGBT movement has held dear, Muñoz contends that queerness is instead a futurity bound phenomenon, a "not yet here" that critically engages pragmatic presentism. Part manifesto, part love-letter to the past and the future, Cruising Utopia argues that the here and now are not enough and issues an urgent call for the revivification of the queer political imagination.

Queer Art : A Freak Theory book cover

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Queer Art: A Freak Theory

Renate Lorenz
Bielefeld, Germany: transcript Verlag, 2012

A queer theory of visual art - based on extensive readings of art works Queer Art traces the question of how strategies of denormalization initiated by visual arts can be continued through writing. In the book's three chapters art theoretical debates are combined with queer theory, post-colonial theory, and (dis-)ability studies, proposing the three terms radical drag, transtemporal drag, and abstract drag. The works discussed include those by Zoe Leonard, Shinique Smith, Jack Smith, Wu Ingrid Tsang, Ron Vawter, Bob Flanagan, Henrik Olesen, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Sharon Hayes, and Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz. 

first page of essay

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

A Conversation on Lesbian Subjectivity and Painting with Deborah Kass

Patricia Cronin
Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press Books, 2000
(from the book M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists’ Writings, Theory & Criticism)

The following conversations with artist Deborah Kass took place beginning on December 16,1992 with the last discussion on May 30,1993. Her series of paintings, Jewish Jackies and My Elvis were exhibited at fiction/nonfiction gallery, now Jose Friere Fine Art, in New York City in January, 1993. Her appropriation of Andy Warhol "originals" coupled with her Barbra Streisand diva worship make for a riotous and poignant critique of the white male domination of painting. This critique encompasses the complex realities of cultural identity.

Discover More at the GVSU Libraries

  • LGBT Life with Full Text
    Scholarly and popular LGBT publications in full text, plus historically important primary sources, including monographs, magazines and newspapers. It also includes a specialized LGBT thesaurus containing thousands of terms.
  • Archives of Sexuality and Gender
    Primary sources on social, political, health, & legal issues impacting LGBTQ communities around the world. Documents are sourced from Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives, GLBT Historical Society, Michigan State University, New York Public Library, Lesbian Herstory Educational Foundation, etc.
  • LGBT Studies in Video
    LGBT political, cultural, and social movements in the 20th century to the present time through video.
  • Gender Studies Database
    Covers all aspects of gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • GenderWatch
    Articles & more on the impact of gender on all areas of life.
  • Women's Studies Archives
    Global aspects of women's lives, roles, experiences, and achievements are covered in primary sources. Includes some pioneers of women's and transgender history, issues that have affected women and lesbians, and contributions made to society.