Indoor Queers Club: History’s No Mystery!

Qmmunity recommends readable & watchable media about queer history

Temperatures have come down a hair or two, but there’s never a bad time to sit back in your favorite indoor space for an intellectual refueling. This month, the Qmmunity crew's Indoor Queers Club is looking to the past to find our queer future with media recs covering LGBTQ histories.

Readable

Queer X Design: 50 Years of Signs, Symbols, Banners, Logos, and Graphic Art of LGBTQ by Andy Campbell

Austin Public Library | The Little Gay Shop

This visual history highlights the art and political symbols of the queer community, from pre-Stonewall through more recent times. The book features a wide variety of LGBTQ imagery like the evolution of the rainbow flag, protest buttons, “Lavender Menace” T-shirts, and posters for the classic 1996 lesbian film The Watermelon Woman. Queer X Design chronicles the language and political sensibilities of the queer liberation movement in an engaging and accessible format that works as a chronological history, or an encyclopedia you can return to whenever curiosity strikes. –Mazzy Oliver Smallwood

[Ed. Note: Andy Campbell is a former Austin Chronicle contributor himself and wrote for the original Gay Place section. Read our interview with him about writing Queer X Design and archiving queer art here.]

Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante

Metonymy Press | Austin Public Library

Published in 2019 by a small queer publisher in Montreal, Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) details a queer trans woman’s mournful yet delightful remembrance of her dearly beloved friend who has passed away. In an attempt to immortalize her memories of Vivian – her idiosyncrasies, her steadfast openness to love, and her unyielding willingness to be vulnerable – the novel’s narrator realized that there is no writing about “Viv” without also archiving information about a fictional TV show that she loved because Vivian did. This novel will pull at your heart strings, if not for the narrator’s unrequited love for her straight friend, than because of the intimate account of the tenderness between two trans women whose beautiful friendship transcends life and death. It’ll also surprise you by how much it can simultaneously make you laugh! – Valeria Valdez

We Both Laughed in Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan

Austin Public Library | The Little Gay Shop

My first thought on reading the selected diaries of gay trans man Lou Sullivan was, “Oh my god. Another trans man who was obsessed with the Beatles at 16?!?” In many ways, the experience of transition – which happens over an entire lifetime, even though it appears on the outside sudden – is one where you’re always imaging yourself as the first to experience some particular sensation. Only when you reach out do you find a community of people who share how you feel, the way Sullivan articulates over entries from 24 of his diaries. Delving into his personal thoughts on his life in the latter half of the 20th century gives a more nuanced picture of the trans experience as it was becoming more visible. Reading about Sullivan’s steadfast pursuit of his own happiness despite oppressions both societal and physical gives me an intense sense of pride in the lineage of trans men before me – as well as resolve to give other future trans dudes that same feeling too. – James Scott

Watchable

The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor

Netflix

Released in 2020, creator Mike Flanagan draws heavily from Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw in his anthology sequel, The Haunting of Bly Manor. If you’ve seen The Haunting of Hill House, then you’ll recognize a few faces in the gothic horror of Bly Manor. Without giving too much away (as piecing together the puzzle of the miniseries’ nonlinear narrative is part of the fun) Victoria Pedretti plays American au pair Dani, who has fled to London. Seemingly haunted herself, Dani is in desperate search of solace from a ghost that is following her but finds little of that in the off-putting children she has assumed responsibility for along with Bly Manor’s housekeeper, chef, and gardener. The characters and audience alike discover over the series why nobody should leave their bedrooms at night in the manor. If you love a romance tucked between a ghost story and a literary adaptation, then yeah. You need to watch this! ‘Tis the season! – V.V.

You’re Wrong About: The Stonewall Uprising

Available on All Podcast Listening Apps

Learn about the culture of police surveillance and brutality that preceded that fateful summer night at the Stonewall Inn, the organizers who kept the momentum going, and how Stonewall became the one moment of queer resistance that made it into history textbooks. The episode includes some classic You’re Wrong About myth-busting (the riots were not motivated by the death of Judy Garland), and colorful stories from the uprising. Can someone please make a romcom about the two people who escaped the paddy wagon and ran out into the night still handcuffed together? For more queer history, check out the You’re Wrong About episodes on Disco Demolition Night and Kitty Genovese and “Bystander Apathy.” – M.O.S.

Gay USA

Gay U.S.A.

Vimeo

Austin Film Society programmer and queer film historian Elizabeth Purchell screened Gay U.S.A. during June 2022 – a wise and wonderful decision on her part. Arthur J. Bressan Jr.’s documentary spanning over four different Pride celebrations in 1977 is an, in my opinion, the perfect Pride month film. Interviews played over jubilant parade footage reveal how little the topics of debate in America have changed from the right for LGBTQ folks to express themselves freely to everyone’s right to bodily autonomy. Watching Gay U.S.A reminds me, and should remind us all, that Pride is more powerful than those who wish to destroy it. – J.S.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

LGBTQ, Indoor Queer Club, Queer X Design, Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian), We Both Laughed in Pleasure, The Haunting of Bly Manor, You're Wrong About, Gay U.S.A.

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