The Blurb On The Back:
In June 1969, police raided New York gay bar The Stonewall Inn, and the LGBTQ equality movement was born. Pride charts the events of that night in New York, the days and nights of rioting that followed, the ensuing organisation of the LGBTQ community – and the 50 years that followed in which activists and ordinary people have dedicated their lives to reversing the global position.
Pride documents the milestones in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality, from the victories of early activists to the passing of legislation barring discrimination, and the gradual acceptance of the LTBTQ community in politics, spot, culture and the media. Rare images and documents cover the seminal moments, events and breakthroughs of the movement, while personal testimonies share the voices of key figures on a broad range of topics, including Maureen Duffy on the early days of the movement, Asifa Lahore on religion, Jake Shears on music, Will Young on mental health and Paris Lees on trans representation. Pride is a unique celebration of LGBTQ cultures, an account of the ongoing challenges facing the community, and a testament to the equal rights that have been won for many as a result of the passion and determination of this mass movement.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Matthew Todd is a journalist and Editor-at-Large of the UK gay magazine Attitude. This coffee table book charts the milestones reached in LGBTQ+ equality since the Stonewall riots of 1969 and while the layout is confusing at times, there are some odd takes in the text and unfortunate lesbian erasure soon after a section on lesbian erasure, the contributing writers make up for it with moving and fascinating observations and memories.
I’ll start by saying that I didn’t come into this expecting a definitive history of LGBTQ+ civil rights since Stonewall. This is clearly a coffee table book for those with an interest in the topic and a willingness to display that interest, hence the hefty price tag (although I should point out that a percentage of the UK profits are being donated to the Albert Kennedy Trust, which is a homelessness charity for young LGBTQ people). It’s because this is a coffee table book that the focus is on photos and graphics, but the big format means it’s quite heavy and unwieldy to read. However, given the price I was surprised that the formatting of the text isn’t great in places (the way some sections are inset within others makes it difficult to follow) and I also spotted a couple of typos, which really isn’t great given the price tag.
Todd does a fairly good job of setting out the discrimination against LGBTQ+ people during the 20th century, setting the scene so that the section on the Stonewall riots is put into context, although there are some odd takes within there (e.g. Todd suggests that Kenneth Halliwell’s murder of his lover, Joe Orton, was to do with the criminalisation of homosexuality rather than Orton’s promiscuity). The Stonewall section is easy to follow and Todd sets out his sources so there are suggestions there for those who want to read more and it dovetails on to attitudes throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, the HIV epidemic, struggle to serve in the military, and then political, sport and cultural developments within the LGBTQ community.
The book splits between the US and UK with some odd mentions of France and Italy, which I didn’t think added much and could actually have been dropped. There is an unfortunate moment where shortly after a discussion about how gay men don’t support lesbians and lesbian erasure in the LGBTQ+ struggle, Todd manages to fail to name Doctor Who’s first openly gay companion (played by Pearl Mackie), although John Barrowman gets name checked in the paragraph before.
What elevates the book into something that’s worth a read is the sections from contributors, including Judy Shepard (whose son, Matthew, was murdered in a homophobic attack), Maureen Duffy, David Furnish, Paris Lees, Travis Alabanza and Bisi Alimi. They each tackle a topic or an LGBTQ person or subject personal to them and I found them informative, fascinating and very moving. On that basis, I think that the book is worth a look but bear in mind that charity donation notwithstanding, it is very expensive for what it is.
Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.