Pride Month: History & Culture

In June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. This led to six days of protests and violence, as members of the LGBTQ+ community fought for their lives and their rights. It served as one of the catalysts for the gay rights movement in the United States and in other countries. Until 1966, LGBTQ+ folks couldn’t even drink in bars, as gatherings of LGBTQ+ patrons were deemed disorderly. Even still, police conducted frequent raids and continued to harass community members after it became legal. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black drag queen, and Sylvia Rivera, a Latina and transgender woman, are the names most associated with the Uprising. Both became prominent activists in the fight towards LGBTQ+ equality. The Stonewall Riots are an important turning point in United States history, and it’s necessary to remember how the LGBTQ+ community was treated and while some strides have been made, how they continue to be treated.  

For our final Pride Month post (this year!), I’ve pulled a few books related to the history of the LGBTQ+ community. From music to history to literature to film to sports, the LGBTQ+ community has been present every step of the way. Let us continue to celebrate them and continue the fight alongside them for their rights throughout the year, not just in June.  

Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet into the Stonewall Era  

“A pictorial time capsule from the pivotal days of a budding gay rights movement. Baumann, coordinator of the New York Public Library’s LGBT Initiative, presents a dramatic collection of images, drawn from the career archives of photo-documentarians Lahusen and Davies, charting the rise of grassroots gay activism from the mid-1960s to the mid-’70s. It was a time when LGBT activists took to the streets of New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New Jersey to creatively and defiantly demonstrate against intolerance and inequality and whose “vision and courage changed our world.” Lahusen was active in early lesbian solidarity organizations while Davies was best known for chronicling the feminist, peace, and social justice activism movements of the era. Their photographs, accompanied by Baumann’s commentary and descriptions, represent separate perspectives within a unified theme of LGBT equality throughout each of the book’s four sections. “Visibility” displays images of a wide variety of gays and lesbians in the primes of their careers and endeavors; “Love” celebrates the power of community and affection in the face of societal hate; “Pride” memorializes the sacred queer spaces where activism, collaboration, and solidarity flourished; and “Protest” demarcates the demonstrations and rebellion against rampant gay oppression. Iconic activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Barbara Gittings, and Ernestine Eckstein share space with gay writers, artists, performers, and media founders. Haunting and arresting, the photos illustrate a historic American era when same-sex affection was forbidden in public and considered both a mental illness and an atrocity. A literary celebration commemorating the 50-year anniversary of the epic Stonewall riots, the book is elegiac yet also provides a reflective and hopeful reminder for future generations that change, and promise can arise from struggle and sacrifice. Though the book is a reflection of a different age and struggle, it is also timely given that LGBT freedoms remain ever endangered within the current political climate. A moving queer tapestry honoring a beleaguered movement’s legacy through art, veneration, and gravitas.”  

-Kirkus Reviews January 2019 

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum 

“Pennies, glass bottles, a parking meter, and a kick line: how a police raid became a community’s symbol of freedom. June 28, 1969: the night the gay bar Stonewall was raided by the police for the second time in a week to stop a blackmail operation. What began as a supposedly routine police raid ended with over 2,000 angry, fed-up protesters fighting against the police in New York’s West Village. Bausum eloquently and thoughtfully recounts it all, from the violent arrest of a young lesbian by the police to an angry, mocking, Broadway-style kick line of young men protesting against New York’s Tactical Control Force. Bausum not only recounts the action of the evening in clear, blow-by-blow journalistic prose, she also is careful to point out assumptions and misunderstandings that might also have occurred during the hot summer night. Her narrative feels fueled by rage and empowerment and the urge to tell the truth. She doesn’t bat an eye when recounting the ways that the LGBT fought to find freedom, love, and the physical manifestations of those feelings, whether at the Stonewall Inn or inside the back of a meat truck parked along the Hudson River. Readers coming of age at a time when state after state is beginning to celebrate gay marriage will be astonished to return to a time when it was a crime for a man to wear a dress. Enlightening, inspiring, and moving.”  

– Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2015 

Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes Are Claiming Their Rightful Place in Sports by Cyd Zeigler 

“Outsports.com founder Zeigler gives an account of the great strides LGBTQ athletes have made in the sports world over the last 15 years. Before 2000, most professional LGBTQ athletes remained closeted for fear that revealing their homosexuality would end their sports careers. However, as the author documents in this overview, “the last decade has been colored in rainbows by young athletes…who [have] dared to be themselves.” In the 1970s, a few individuals, such as tennis legends Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, came out. By the turn of the century, other professional athletes, such as baseball player Billy Bean and defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo, also did so, but only after they had retired. Not until NBA basketball player John Amaechi publicly disclosed his homosexuality in 2007 did gay athletes and the issues pertaining to them come to the fore of mainstream professional sports. In this book , Zeigler tells stories of the fears and anxieties that both college and professional athletes have faced along the path to acceptance by their teammates. He reveals how language used among otherwise tolerant heterosexual athletes to denote weakness compounds the intensity of the inner struggles of their gay counterparts. At the same time, he points to examples of straight individuals like football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin who have actively supported the gay sports movement by speaking about the need for “equality for all.” While Zeigler believes it is imperative that more LGBTQ athletes come out, he also makes clear that public outing is not justified if an individual is not ready to deal with the ensuing media exposure. Lively and provocative, the book  not only offers a much-needed perspective on what until recently has been one of the last bastions of heterosexism. It is also significant for its conscious consideration of how current developments will impact LGBTQ athletes of tomorrow. An informative, necessary work.” 

-Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2016 

David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music by Darryl W. Bullock 

“Bullock’s comprehensive yet concise history of LGBT music from the earliest records in the pre-jazz age to the 21st century is an enthralling journey covering multiple genres and serves as both a cultural and sociological study of the history and impact of various artists and music styles. Bullock examines jazz, blues, country, singer-songwriters, disco, punk, and dance while traveling both the main roads and especially the byways of popular music, highlighting artists who may be unfamiliar to many, narrating a story of a community that over the decades has created original, influential, and singular music. Using dozens of sources as well as his own interviews, the author demonstrates that the story of LGBT music is both a personal and a political one, set against the backdrop of key events in the gay rights movement, which also mirrors the changing societal attitudes toward LGBT people over time. Bullock spotlights dozens of LGBT artists, examining their lives, lyrics, and struggles, both in society and within the music industry, in an entertaining narrative that will also encourage readers to seek out fascinating work that helps define a community’s rich history and heritage.”  

– Library Journal, vol 142, issue 17 

Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution by Susan Stryker  

“Covering American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today, Transgender History takes a chronological approach to the subject of transgender history, with each chapter covering major movements, writings, and events. Chapters cover the transsexual and transvestite communities in the years following World War II; trans radicalism and social change, which spanned from 1966 with the publication of The Transsexual Phenomenon and lasted through the early 1970s; the mid-’70s to 1990, the era of identity politics and the changes witnessed in trans circles through these years; and the gender issues witnessed through the ’90s and ’00s. Transgender History includes informative sidebars highlighting quotes from major texts and speeches in transgender history and brief biographies of key players, plus excerpts from transgender memoirs and discussion of treatments of transgenderism in popular culture.”

-Grand Central Publishing 

-Linnea 

Imagine Your Story -Variety Pack

You know how sometimes (or fairly often) it can be hard to settle down and read? I’ve found a variety pack of options to entertain myself, and maybe some of these ideas will appeal to you as well…

Magazines! From HGTV to Gourmet to bite sized articles in How it Works that help me learn something new, I’ve been enjoying flicking those pages until something catches my eye.

I’ve also been reading from the Diverse Voices for Younger Readers collection. I 100% think books for teens and younger readers can be as good -or better!- than adult books as they tell stories that are compelling but tend to be shorter (aka don’t get bogged down in wordy, unnecessary extras). Why not give it a try?

Sometimes I just listen to music while I clean or do some crafting…

But if you want to be ambitious? You could join me in the Great Courses Myth in Human History and -so far, so good!! And then I have an eye on How to Make Stress Work for You….

I hope one of these choices sounds appealing and gives you something new to try!

—Stacey

Your Library Staff at Home – Spring is (indoor) Spider Season?

Despite the recent snow (sigh) it really is Spring, a season that brings out all sorts of newly created flora and fauna. Spring also reminds everything that went into hibernation it’s time to wake up! While it isn’t really news to anyone, this year -being inside at home so much- I realized this includes house spiders! ugh. I’m working very hard to embrace the challenge of living peaceably with these multi-legged, fast-moving arthropods. (It would help a lot if they would stop running across the ceiling or hiding in the bathroom…¯\_(ツ)_/¯) So, what have you learned about your house this Spring?

As I give my new spider frens plenty of space, I’m also attempting to grow an avocado tree from a seed! I’m mid-week two and no roots yet but we’re in the early stages… oh, the hope! In-between refilling the water and moving Ava Cado to the warmest spots around the kitchen I’m enjoying some upbeat songs on Freegal, the Library’s new ad-free music service -all you need is your Rocky River library card and pin number to start streaming music! Check out the different genres and why not try making your own playlist – enjoy!

Be kind to yourself today!
—Stacey

Your Library at Home – Music to Brighten Your Mood

We recently introduced a new music streaming service available with your RRPL card called Freegal. Freegal gives you access to 3 HOURS OF FREE STREAMING MUSIC A DAY! Don’t know where to begin with Freegal? Check out a few of these playlists:

I hope these playlists help you discover the vast catalog available to you in Freegal with your library card.

—Beth

Your Library Staff at Home — Music for Dancing around the House

One of the small ways I’ve found some joy lately is to overindulge in catchy old jams. Thanks to Hoopla, I’ve been able to load up my phone and take the party anywhere in my house or yard. Check out some artists and albums I’ve had in the rotation:

You’ll need your Clevnet library card information to initially create a Hoopla account. You can sign up for an instant digital Clevnet card here. We have also started staffing the library phone line Monday-Friday 11 am-2pm so give us a call if you have any questions.

What songs have been bringing you joy? Let me know in the comments.

Beth

New Nonfiction Coming in March 2020

Check out this selection of nonfiction books for your enjoyment coming this spring!

 

3/03: Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong With the Fit52 Life by  Carrie Underwood – The Platinum award-winning music artist outlines common-sense approaches to health and fitness that can be incorporated into a busy schedule, sharing personal meal plans, recipes and weekly workout programs for long-term results.

3/03: Pearls of Wisdom: Little Pieces of Advice That Go a Long Way by Barbara Bush – Collects the best advice that First Lady Barbara Bush offered her family, staff and close friends. Full of Barbara Bush’s trademark wit and thoughtfulness, Pearls of Wisdom is a poignant reflection on life, love, family, and the world by one of America’s most iconic and beloved public figures.

 

 

3/03: Eat for Life: The Breakthrough Nutrient-rich Program for Longevity, Disease Reversal, and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman – Add years to your life and life to your years with #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Joel Fuhrman no-nonsense, results-driven nutrition plan that will help you look and feel your best inside and out. 

3/03: Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War: July 1937-May 1942 by Richard B. Frank – The Vietnam veteran and award-winning historian draws on rich archival research and recently discovered evidence in a revelatory account of the onset of the Asia-Pacific War. By the author of Guadalcanal. Illustrations.

 

 

3/17: The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John Bolton – John Bolton served as National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump for 519 days. A seasoned public servant who had previously worked for Presidents Reagan, Bush #41, and Bush #43, Bolton brought to the administration thirty years of experience in international issues and a reputation for tough, blunt talk. In his memoir, he offers a substantive and factual account of his time in the room where it happened.

3/24: Kilo: Inside the Deadliest Cocaine Cartels—from the Jungles to the Streets by Toby Muse – With unprecedented access to Colombia’s cocaine cartels, a journalist offers a thrilling account of the journey of one kilo of cocaine, from the farmers who produce it to the killers who protect it, to the drug barons and their lovers made fabulously wealthy by it.

 

 

3/24: Had I Known: Collected Essays by Barbara Ehrenreich – A selection of the best-selling writer and political activist’s most provocative signature writings includes her groundbreaking undercover investigations, op-ed pieces, essays and reviews, including the award-winning “Welcome to Cancerland.”

3/31: More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys – The 15-time Grammy Award-winning music artist traces her journey from self-censorship to full expression, describing her complicated relationship with her father, the people-pleasing nature that characterized her early career and her struggles with gender expectations.

~Semanur

August Playlist

We’ve hit that back to school season and the suffocating heat has worn off. That isn’t going to stop us from embracing the perfect weather for afternoon picnics, or combing the shores of Lake Erie for beach glass. Here are the tunes that are helping us make the most of this prime forecast.

Dylan and Bloom; or, Why Yeats Was Wrong

Image result for dylan netflix movie

There is a quote from the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, from a poem called “The Choice,” which I have never really understood.  Here it is:

The intellect of man is forced to choose
Perfection of the life, or of the work

Why do we have to choose?  I was thinking about this quote, because recently Netflix has announced that they will be releasing a new documentary about that most protean and enigmatic of artists, the pseudonymously named and pretty much always astonishing Bob Dylan.  What was I thinking about?  I was remembering various times in my life when, listening to Dylan in my car, driving somewhere, I would compare various tracks from different Dylan albums, if only to instantiate in myself a kind of marveling cognitive dissonance.  In other words, I liked the shock of encountering an artist who didn’t sit still, who was rather scandalously and bravely growing: as an artist, of course, but also, in many ways (to my mind) as a person.  Because, when you really thought about it, (and here is where the Yeats quote comes in), how could one compose such variegated and beautiful songs, if they were not emerging from the conditions of a particular life – a life that made room for the songwriting to happen in the first place?

As I thought about Dylan, I reflected on other artists and thinkers who, it seemed to me, had never really settled – who, by some strange alchemical need, urgency, prompting, were constantly producing works that built in tacit or not-so-tacit ways on the previous work – but who also found ways to fearlessly branch out, to break out of the confines of their earlier suppositions, norms, conventions, assumptions, standards, and to therefore transcend (but also include) what came before in their own work.

The American literary critic Harold Bloom is a great example of this form of striving, and he also has a new book out (feel free to click on the image below to put a hold on a copy).  I have been a devoted follower of Bloom’s career since I read, in the early 2000s, his rather confidently titled, How to Read and Why.  I can’t say exactly what it was about that book that led me to a lifelong addiction to the Bloomian voice, except that I can say with certainty that his passion for literature was so encompassingly large, so supremely infectious, so utterly and undeniably alive with fetching thought and feeling, that I became irreparably hooked.  And to reflect on his career is, in many ways, to come across another phenomenon, a la Dylan, whereby a human being, absorbing and breathing out the vast tradition from which they came, (Dylan’s Chronicles is a great place to start to learn about his own influences; Bloom is endlessly alluding to his forebears, which include the 18th century literary critic and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, and the 19th century poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson), create from that tradition something fearlessly “revisionary,” to use a Bloomian term, i.e. they re-vision, they re-see, what came before them, and they then, from this creative interpretation, this vision, this feeling, produce something powerfully compelling.  If you merely glance at Bloom’s bibliography on Wikipedia, you can see a rather staggeringly deep arc in his work, from the Romantic poets, to the study of what poetic influence means, to Kabbalah and Sigmund Freud, to religious criticism (his meditations on Mormonism and Joseph Smith are utterly fascinating), to the Western Canon and Shakespeare (!), and onwards and outwards, towards and into meditations on Christianity, the God of the Hebrew Bible, various Shakespearean characters, the King James Bible, and into his now present work, which comes from a man in his late eighties who has refused to stagnate or stop developing spiritually in any way.

What can artists like Dylan and Bloom teach us, artists that can be easily found at most public libraries, including our very own Rocky River Public Library?  They show us, I think, that Yeats might have been too eager to assume that the life and the work are easily separable categories, mutually exclusive dimensions of existence where you have to sacrifice one for the other.  Bloom has taught at Yale University for more than sixty years, and Dylan has played live shows on what he calls a “Never Ending Tour” since 1988.  These two artists are, in a very large sense, role models for the rest of us.  The synergy of their lives and works form ballasts on which we can stand and look out and really think about what it means to lead a good and meaningful life.  Their superb examples, which cannot exactly be imitated, but can be learned from and incorporated into one’s own life, marshal forth endless opportunities for reflection on how and why we not only imbibe thought and art, but also attempt, in our own idiosyncratic ways, to become artists of life ourselves.

Image result for possessed by memory

 

 

 

Handel this!

DanielleDeNiese

Was just listening to Danielle de Niese singing arias written by Handel, the composer of one of my favorite works, Water MusicI can understand the accolades she has received in the classical world. And in addition to the music, I enjoyed the lyrics as well – some were so dramatic! Not surprising for operas, I suppose… anyway, here are a couple:
“Da tempeste” (Giulio Cesare in Egitto – Act III, Scene 6; lyrics – Nicola Francesco Haym)

If a ship, buffeted by storms,

then reaches safe harbor,

it no longer knows what to wish for.

Thus the heart that finds solace

after enduring pain and despair

brings joy once more to the soul.

“Tornami a vagheggiar” (Alcina – Act I, Scene 14; lyrics – anon.)

Look with love on me again,

you alone will

this faithful soul adore,

my sweet beloved.

I have given you my heart,

my love will be constant;

never shall I be cruel to you

my beloved hope.

May your Friday reach operatic heights!

— Julie