Mason Funk has made it his life’s mission to document the long journey and struggle of the LGBTQ community for equality. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Outwords, which is a non-profit organization focused on documenting the history of the LGBTQ community in the United States. You can learn more about Outwords at https://www.documentary.org/project/outwords-national-interview-archive-lgbtq-experience. Funk also wrote The Book of Pride, and the proceeds from the sale of this book go to support Outwords.
In The Book of Pride, Funk said that he was concerned that if we don’t document the challenges faced by the LGBTQ movement, then the history will be lost or not believed by future generations. He compared the movement to the Holocaust which is documented by many photographs and records, yet still, there are those who believe that the Holocaust was made up or a hoax. Funk is trying to make sure that there is a good record of what happened and when, and who the major leaders were and what they overcame, in order to achieve more LGBTQ equality.
I grew up in the Midwest during the 70s and 80s. During that time, people didn’t talk much about L or G, and there was no mention (in my memory) of B, T, or Q until I was well into adulthood. While I have acquired more understanding over the years, I still approached The Book of Pride with a fair amount of ignorance. I specifically looked for a book about the LGBTQ community so that I could learn more, and The Book of Pride did not disappoint. I found the book to be interesting, engaging, shocking at times, and above all, educational. Each chapter is a different person with a different story, and together, they document the history of the LGBTQ community’s fight for equality.
The stories start with the LGBTQ movement in the 1960s. The themes include conflicts with the police, the importance of gay bars as a safe haven and community, the extremely high suicide rates for LGBTQ children and adults, and the additional challenges for LGBTQ women and minorities. There are plenty of light moments and laughter to balance the difficulties described in the stories. No one can be serious all the time, including these 75 excellent storytellers.
The storytellers include former U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Alan Steinman who is an advocate for the open service of LGBT in the U.S. military, who spoke up for the withdrawal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. And Betsy Parsons, a retired English teacher who said that in the 1990s, it was normal for students to target members of the LGBTQ community with physical harassment, shoving, hitting, tripping, and punching. “Teachers would not typically intervene because to target LGBT people was acceptable.” And Richard Zaldivar who is the founder and executive director of The Wall Las Memorias Project, a non-profit dedicated to promoting wellness and prevent illness for Latino populations affected by HIV/AIDS. Despite death threats, he has brought more awareness HIV/AIDS and acceptance of the LGBTQ community throughout the country.
If you are interested in learning more about the LGBTQ community and the history of their push for equality, then I recommend The Book of Pride. I listened to the audio version and it was excellent.
Have you read any book about the LGBTQ community or movement that taught you something new? If so, what book do you recommend?
Do you have a story that you can share about how LGBTQ inclusion helped you someone else?
What other books have you read that really made you think about people who are different from you?