LGBT Rights: A Historical Perspective

With the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots coming up in the next few years, I felt a need to write down a few resources I found helpful to put these issues into perspective. With this in mind, the 38th annual Central Alabama Pridefest will be taking place June 4-12. On Saturday, June 11, the Pride Parade will be taking place. Its route will be on the Southside around Five Points South. Jordin Sparks will be the headliner on Sunday, June 12, at Sloss Furnances. For more information about Central Alabama Pride, see their website at

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum
An easy read. The book is 120 pages long, so a fast read as well. Full of illustrations and clear, action-oriented prose. Written in a way that a teenager would understand it. A great introduction to the subject.

American Experience: Stonewall Uprising (DVD)
At 90 minutes long, a great documentary telling about the Stonewall riots on June 28, 1969. The film has interviews from participants of the riots from the police and the rioters. It gives a great introduction to the years leading up to the riots and the overall aftermath of the event. Especially moving for me were the experiences of the participants of the first Pride marches: their anxiety and fear, their pride and exhilaration, their joy and tears. Quite emotional and personal.

After Stonewall (DVD)
Narrated by Melissa Etheridge and filled with famous gay and lesbian activists and celebrities from pre-2000s, this film chronicles the gay rights movement post Stonewall. The moments that touched me the most were the AIDS years and the extreme loss of life.

The Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives (DVD)
Over 2 hours long, this documentary, released to the theaters and shown on PBS in 1978, shows interviews with 26 people who share their experiences of being gay men and lesbians. The participants stretch the gamut of age, race, and socio-economic status. Highlights: Ex-military lesbian talking about her experiences in the military (humorous), the older gay couple talking about their relationship and how they met (sentimental), the lesbian and gay man talking about their interaction with the mental health community, especially the electro-shock therapy (emotional and harrowing). I was especially interested in one of the special features where they talked to some of the participants 30 years afterwards. It touched me to see how many of the individuals had died and how their involvement in the film had changed their lives.

Samuel Charles Rumore
Springville Road Regional Branch Library