Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals have been with us for centuries. Because many chose to (or were forced to) live their lives in secrecy, their emergence in recent decades, and their ability to celebrate their lives in pride, may seem “new” to many of us.

The “Stonewall Uprising” of June 28,1969 is considered the start for gay liberation efforts in America, sparking the quest for equality for all LGBTQ Americans. New York City police raids of the Stonewall Inn – a gathering place for gays in Greenwich Village – sparked six days of violent rioting. A year later to the day, the first “gay pride” parade was held.

Official Federal government recognition of Pride Month was initiated in 2000 as “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month” and expanded in 2011 to include “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.” The timing of many pride festivities between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day honors the fact that families take many forms, with love and commitment creating a nurturing family.

While the COVID pandemic interrupted many Pride celebrations and workshops across America and around the world, it created renewed interest in learning about the history of the Pride movement and the LGBTQ experience. Libraries supported this effort by highlighting relevant fiction and nonfiction offerings appropriate for various age groups.

Considerable progress has been made legislatively in LGBTQ rights, but obstacles remain in education, employment, military service, housing, the right to marry and adopt children, and even the right to be with loved ones in their final hours of life. Sadly, the simple act of living one’s authentic life can lead to hate crimes of horrific brutality.

Given these challenges, LGBTQ people, and those who love them can benefit from reading about those who preceded them on the journey. For those trying to reconcile their life with family and society expectations, knowing that they are not alone can be a profound relief. For others, becoming “allies” and fighting for LGBTQ rights can make a lasting difference. Whatever your situation, reading can open your eyes, your mind, and your heart.