5 Books You Should Read for LGBTQ+ History Month

Maya Angelou once said, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” For this reason, I am showcasing some great reads for LGBTQ+ History Month! Learning lessons from history can help us improve the lives of the people with which we work, teach, and live our lives. 

"Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality" by Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell

Love Wins is the real-life story of how marriage equality came to be. Learn the harrowing story of Jim Obergefell and an amazing team of lawyers who demanded marriage rights for gays across the nation in 2015. It’s a story of love and loss and overcoming overwhelming odds. 

This book is a great telling of the landmark marriage equality case that the Supreme Court voted into law. It’s a great example of modern history changing right before our eyes and how the law actively hinders and helps the LGBTQ+ community.

"Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity" by C. Riley Snorton


The first Pride was started by a black, trans woman. So if you want to learn about LGBTQ+ history, you need to start with the first prominent trans woman in American history. This book delves into the life of Christine Jorgensen in the postwar era, often obscured or overlooked by history books.

This narrative also delves deeper into the intersectionality of blackness, transness, and historical erasure of the black trans experience. The author covers a lot of historical context in this book that you may not have learned in school as well, so buckle up. In the end, you’ll get a better view of how we can create a more livable world for black and trans lives.

We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation” by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown

The history of queer liberation is a long and arduous one. This book is filled with carefully crafted narratives, experiences, and over 300 photographs of queer life, dating back to nineteenth century Europe.This is a book all about the many forms that activism can take and a look into what LGBTQ+ life really looks like.

This book honors the lives of those who fought for queer liberation and how that might look moving forward. These amazing people paved the way for LGBTQ+ youth to live a better life and show us that it’s everyone’s responsibility to care for them. See queer history like never before in We Are Everywhere.

The Gay Agenda: A Modern Queer History & Handbook” by Ashley Molesso and Chessie Needham

First of all, is this not the cutest cover you’ve ever seen? This book is a fantastic celebration of all things LGBTQ+ with illustrations, trivia, charts, history and everything in between. It’s a great read for all ages. Older generations will love the nostalgia of their favorite queer icons. Younger people will enjoy the history and the immersive experiences this book provides. 

This is a cute and creative resource developed by a queer power couple and it couldn’t be more adorable. I especially love how this book breaks down the different acronyms and highlights a lot of the symbols that are heavily integrated in LGBTQ+ culture. This book is a must-read for all ages.

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

Since my background is in graphic design, my favorite might seem a little biased. I love this book because I am a visual learner and this book showcases all the aspects of LGBTQ+ culture through decades of collections. This book goes deep into the process of grassroots activism that the LGBTQ+ liberation movement is known for. 

I am a huge fan of how the author breaks down this book into decades. It provides a concise timeline of events in modern queer history that is easy to follow. The images and graphics in it are incredibly informative and, of course, colorful. Queer representation takes many forms in this book. From buttons, to posters, to zines, to flags, the queer culture is illustrated beautifully in this guide.

This also is not a complete list, but just my personal favorites! There are many resources to continue your education on LGBTQ+ history, like lgbthistorymonth.com. I highly recommend learning about queer icons, both past and present. What books did I leave out? Let me know what you’re reading!

Eileen Asher (she/her) is a graduate of the Graphic Design program at Ohio Dominican University with a specialization in branding and identity. She is a member of the ESC Communications team where she works towards developing more inclusive design and marketing practices. She is currently enrolled in the Project Diversity Pride Leadership class of 2021 through United Way of Central Ohio, developing her skills to serve as a future non-profit board member.

Email Eileen at [email protected] for more information about the LGBTQ+ community or communication services.