Main content

Featured Books: Pride Month

Posted on by Rebecca Ortenberg

Late at night on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. It wasn’t the first time the bar had been shut down by police. It wasn’t even the first time that a group of LGBTQ people fought back when authorities threatened a community space; establishments like Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco had increasingly become sites of protest throughout the 1960s. But this particular raid sparked a response that would go down in the history books. Patrons of the Stonewall Inn resisted arrest, and for six days fought back against the police who threatened the bar. One year later, a broad coalition of advocacy groups got together to commemorate the event with a demonstration that is now known as the first Pride Parade.

Today, Pride marches and celebrations happen all over the world during the month of June. To help you celebrate, staff, students, and faculty of Penn’s LGBT Center have put together this selection of books and films that explore the LGBTQ experience from a wide variety of perspectives. Fiction and nonfiction, joyful and tragic, written for children, adults, and everyone in between, these stories span time, borders, and identity. Happy Pride!

Print and E-Books

  • Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue
    Out lesbian author Donoghue retells 13 interconnected fairy tales from a feminist and queer point of view, shaping versions of familiar stories that show all is not always what it seems. This is a great ‘gateway book’ to Donoghue’s amazing writings.
  • Evolution's Rainbow : Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People by Joan Roughgarden
    Celebrating individuality and diversity, this book challenges accepted thought about gender identity and sexual orientation, reworking familiar science in the process.
  • George by Alex Gino
    Written by a Penn alum, George was the first middle grade book to address being transgender and the most challenged book of 2018, 2019, and 2020 according to the American Library Association.
  • Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele
    This graphic novel offers an approachable and fun romp through LGBTQ history, queer theory, and more. It’s a great introduction to all things queer.
  • Blood, Bread, and Poetry: selected prose, 1979-1985 by Adrienne Rich
    Containing the groundbreaking essay “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” this collection includes writings in which Rich examines her identities and their potential meanings while connecting history, action, and imagination through prose. A must-read!
  • The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government by David K. Johnson
    Detailing the origins of the gay rights movement and the McCarthy era, this cautionary tale explores an era when the government acted in the name of "national security" and infringed on the civil liberties of thousands of Americans.
  • Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
    During Nigeria’s civil war, Ijeoma falls in love with another displaced teen girl despite the fact that the girl is of a different ethnicity.



  • The Handmaiden, directed by Chan-Wook Park
    This suspense-filled film is based on Sarah Waters’ historical novel Fingersmith but moves the setting to early 20th century Japanese-occupied Korea. In a tale with many great twists and turns, a woman is hired as a handmaiden for a Japanese heiress, but she is plotting to swindle her.
  • Ma Vie en Rose, directed by Alain Berliner
    Seven-year-old Ludovic knows she is a girl, even if her body makes her seem otherwise. Can her family and neighbors accept who she really is?
  • The Watermelon Woman, written and directed by Cheryl Dunye
    This Philadelphia-based rom-com/drama was the first feature film directed by an out Black lesbian. It focuses on a young Black lesbian working a day job in a video store while trying to make a film about a 1940s Black actress known only as "the watermelon woman."
  • Word is Out: Stories From Some of Our Lives, directed by Nancy Adair, Peter Adair, Andrew Brown, Ron Epstein, Lucy Massie Phenix, and Veronica Selver
    The first feature-length documentary about lesbians and gay men, made by lesbians and gay men. Simple interviews about people’s lives in the late 1970s, well worth the watch.