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Format Audiobook (from BorrowBox)
Publication Date May 2019
Length 288 pages / 12 hours
Content Warnings Homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, racism, discrimination, death of a loved one, sexual assault, violence, harassment
What It’s About
Feeling a debt of gratitude to his queer community’s elders, and determined not to let their stories be lost to history, Mason Funk established Outwords, a charity dedicated to travelling the length and breadth of America to interview LGBT+ elders. From swanky offices to rural snowstorms, the Outwords team seek queer stories wherever they can find them, determined to record as many of the movement’s perspectives as possible.
The result is The Book of Pride, a collection of interviews with LGBT+ pioneers, including John S. James (HIV treatment campaigner), Diana Rivers (author and women’s rights activist) and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy (trans community leader).
First Chapter Impressions
I’m someone who is always interested in people’s stories, and what made them become who they are today. So I predicted that I would enjoy The Book of Pride, which contains no fewer than 50 of these stories, but the interviews captivated me even more than I was expecting!
Each individual personality is really allowed to shine through in every interview, from the wise and spiritual to the outrageously funny. I also liked how the author included some of his own little observations about each interviewee, such as how their office was decorated or who they live with, which added a real personal touch.
The audiobook, which I listened to through BorrowBox, is fantastic – a variety of voice actors help to distinguish the interviewees so I never got them confused, even when listening to multiple interviews in a row while out for a walk.
Final Page Reflections
While I was enamoured with the interviews contained in this book from the start, I was a little concerned that the format might become repetitive. Yet this proved not to be the case, as the interviews are so diverse and unique. I fail to understand why this book is so underappreciated – it has less than 500 ratings on Goodreads!
I think the best way to learn about history is not through any textbook, but by paying attention to individual stories such as those recounted in The Book of Pride. I found a richer understanding of the early LGBT+ movement in this relatively short book than I have ever encountered before: the feel of the era, what people’s hopes and fears were, how all the separate activists and movements came together and related with one another, the frustrations and the exuberance of change.
You can go to the Outwords website to see all of their interviews in full, for free.
Diversity and Representation
The Book of Pride is an exemplar of intersectional diversity – not only across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum but also different races, social classes, religions and backgrounds.
It is confined only to the USA at the moment (including indigenous and diaspora people) and I would love for it to expand and cover the stories of queer pioneers worldwide.
- Love & relationships
- Religion & spirituality
Beyond the Book
I think it’s wonderful that The Book of Pride exists, but it also makes me sad that without the dedicated individuals at the Outwords charity, these queer stories might never have been shared. There seem to be no easy answers for who is accountable to preserving and honouring marginalised histories – governments, educational institutions, or community leaders.
If you’re reading The Book of Pride as a book club pick or just looking to ponder it in a little more depth, these questions should help get you started:
1. Which interviewee included in The Book of Pride did you find most inspiring and why?
2. The book is organised loosely into themes, such as ‘Community’, ‘Spirituality’ and ‘Truth to Power’. Do you think this structure worked, or would you have ordered the interviews any differently?
3. The Book of Pride is an example of oral history at its finest. Did you learn anything new about LGBT+ history that you didn’t know before?
“We sometimes think that because I’m oppressed in one way, then I understand every form of oppression.”~ ‘The Book of Pride’
Read If You want to be inspired by the pioneers of LGBT+ history!
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You may also like: Talking Across the Divide by Justin Lee
Have you read The Book of Pride? Are there any other non-fiction books covering queer history that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!