Forthcoming LGBTQ+ Studies Books

Although Pride month is coming to end, we encourage you to read diversely and support queer authors and literature all year round. In this reading list we’re highlighting some of our LGBTQ+ studies coming out later this year that we recommend adding to your shelf.

book cover for The Famous Lady Lovers by Cookie Woolner

The Famous Lady Lovers: Black Women and Queer Desire before Stonewall by Cookie Woolner

September 2023

Black queer women have shaped American culture since long before the era of gay liberation. Decades prior to the Stonewall Uprising, in the 1920s and 1930s, Black “lady lovers”—as women who loved women were then called—crafted a queer world. In the cabarets, rent parties, speakeasies, literary salons, and universities of the Jazz Age and Great Depression, communities of Black lady lovers grew, and queer flirtations flourished. Cookie Woolner here uncovers the intimate lives of performers, writers, and educators such as Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Gladys Bentley, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and Lucy Diggs Slowe, along with the many everyday women she encountered in the archives.

Examining blues songs, Black newspapers, vice reports, memoirs, sexology case studies, and more, Woolner illuminates the unconventional lives Black lady lovers formed to suit their desires. In the urban North, as the Great Migration gave rise to increasingly racially mixed cities, Black lady lovers fashioned and participated in emerging sexual subcultures. During this time, Black queer women came to represent anxieties about the deterioration of the heteronormative family. Negotiating shifting notions of sexuality and respectability, Black lady lovers strategically established queer networks, built careers, created families, and were vital cultural contributors to the US interwar era.

Book cover for Wondrous Transformations by Alison Li

Wondrous Transformations: A Maverick Physician, the Science of Hormones, and the Birth of the Transgender Revolution by Alison Li

September 2023

Harry Benjamin (1885–1986), a German-born endocrinologist, was a pivotal figure in the development of transgender medicine. He was physician to transgender pioneers such as Christine Jorgensen, the 1950s “Ex-GI” turned “Blonde Beauty” media sensation, and in turn, she and other collaborators helped to shape Benjamin’s influential 1966 book, The Transsexual Phenomenon. Alison Li’s much-needed biography of Benjamin chronicles his passion for hormones and his lifelong interest in sexology. 

Drawing from extensive research in archival documents, secondary sources, and interviews, Li tells the story of Benjamin’s early ventures in gerontology and his later work with over a thousand transgender patients. Benjamin’s contributions to treatment, education, research, and networking helped to create the institutional foundations of transgender medicine. Moreover, they set the stage for a radical reconsideration of gender identity, challenging us to reflect upon what it is to be male or female and to envision moving beyond these long-held categories.

Book cover for Ambivalent Affinities by Jennifer Dominique Jones

Ambivalent Affinities: A Political History of Blackness and Homosexuality after World War II by Jennifer Dominique Jones

October 2023

In the early twenty-first century, comparisons between the modern civil rights movement and the movement for marriage equality reached a fever pitch. These comparisons, however, have a longer history. During the five decades after World War II, political ideas about same-sex intimacy and gender nonconformity—most often categorized as homosexuality—appeared in the campaigns of civil rights organizations, Black liberal elected officials, segregationists, and far right radicals. Deployed in complex and at times contradictory ways, political ideas about homosexuality (and later, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender subjects) became tethered to conceptualizations of Blackness and racial equality.

In this interdisciplinary historical study, Jennifer Dominique Jones reveals the underexamined origins of comparisons between Black and LGBT political constituencies in the modern civil rights movement and white supremacist backlash. Foregrounding an intersectional framing of postwar political histories, Jones demonstrates how the shared non-normative status of Blackness and homosexuality facilitated comparisons between subjects and political visions associated with both. Drawing upon organizational records, manuscript collections, newspaper accounts, and visual and textual ephemera, this study traces a long, conflicting relationship between Black and LGBT political identities that continues to the present day.