Not Straight, Not White



Kevin Mumford | Brian Stauffer | 17079

The new book “Not Straight, Not White” by Kevin Mumford, a history professor at the University of Illinois-Champaign, is one of the few books to document the gay history of the black community in America. “There’s still a lot of white-centered gay narratives,” he told the Windy City Times.

He was familiar with and researched James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin before he began his book. “I learned a lot by reading their FBI files, reading their newspaper clippings, and focusing on their gay writings in a way that people hadn’t.”

He includes the life of Lorraine Hansberry, who visited the White House with James Baldwin in the early ’60s and whose archives he had special permission to view. “She’s really an icon of African-American culture. She wasn’t particularly out: she would have been out had she lived, I’m quite sure, but like Rustin, like Baldwin, she had to advocate for social justice and sort of remain silent on the question of her desire.”


Amazon | 17080

His book also owes much material to the collection of community activist and anthology editor Joseph Beam. Beam’s archives may have helped save Joseph Beam from obscurity. “Beam was really extraordinary because he corresponded with all kinds of people, and he saved all the letters that he got, and carbon copies of all of the letters that he sent. He’s an average guy, he’s an activist, worked at the Giovanni’s Room bookstore, he’s a waiter, but he has 15 boxes full of everyday letters, of being an activist, of being a community worker.”



A day in May



Easons | 16215gh

Veteran Irish journalist Charlie Bird has just published his new book “A day in May” about the historic referendum last year in the Republic of Ireland which paved the way for gay marriage.

The book chronicles the lead-up to the historic Marriage Equality referendum last May.

The book includes 50 powerful interviews with members of the LGBT community in Ireland and their family and friends, which was inspired by his involvement chairing the ‘Yes Campaign’ in last year’s referendum.


Rubyfruit Jungle



An edition of Rubyfruit Jungle | Public domain | 14295

2013 is the 40th anniversary of the pioneering novel Rubyfruit Jungle.

“Rita Mae Brown’s 1973 book was of course not the first to include lesbian and gay characters, whether closeted or open. But, at the time, it was unusual for a protagonist to be mostly candid and guilt-free about not being “straight,” even while facing various obstacles. Brown’s whip-smart, frequently hilarious Molly Bolt creation helped pave the way for other uncloseted lesbian and gay characters in subsequent decades — though these characters were sometimes stereotypical and too often supporting players rather than lead players,”

writes Dave Astor in The Huff.

“Prior to Rubyfruit Jungle, a few other novels – such as Colette’s Claudine at School (1900), Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927), Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar (1948), James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room (1956) and E.M. Forster’s Maurice (published posthumously in 1971 but written much earlier) – were somewhat or very groundbreaking in their portrayal of gay or bisexual characters. But, for the most part, readers of certain pre-1973 books had to guess if characters were gay or bisexual, because authors risked a lot if they weren’t cautious in their literary pursuits and personal lives. Just ask Oscar Wilde.”


Rita Mae Brown | Public domain | 14296

Rita Mae Brown was born on November 28, 1944 and as well as becoming a famous writer and screenwriter, also took up political activism in the 1960s, becoming active in the American Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movement, the Gay Liberation movement and the feminist movement.