Pride in SF Bay Area's History | Mechanics' Institute

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Pride in SF Bay Area's History

Pride is a celebration of the lives and history of the LGBTQ community. We’ve chosen some important nonfiction books that highlight Bay Area history, emphasizing the social movements that have shaped the LGBTQIA+ experience. If you’re a San Francisco history buff, a few of these are must-reads!

Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area by Susan Stryker and Jim Van Buskirk - A stylized, fun visual history of the Bay Area. This approachable work is filled with photographs and ephemera that cover many pages. Get a taste for what’s in the Hormel Center Archives at San Francisco Public Library and the GLBT Historical Society Archives. But watch out - this book may give you the research bug! Ask an MI librarian, and we would be happy to help you learn how to research in the  archives and special collections

Transgender History by Susan Stryker - Have you heard of Compton’s Cafeteria Riot? It was one of the first LGBTQ-related protests uncovered by author Susan Stryker. Compton’s happened in San Francisco's Tenderloin district in August,1966 -- a few years before the 1969 Stonewall Riots. The 1966 riot started when a transgender woman threw coffee at a police officer and resisted arrest. What followed was a riot led mostly by transgender people and drag queens. Learn more about Compton’s from the authority on the event and other events in Transgender History.

Vanguard Revisited: The Queer Faith, Sex & Politics of the Youth of San Francisco’s Tenderloin. editors Megan Rohrer & Joey Plaster - San Francisco’s Tenderloin District has a fascinating history as a safehaven for LGBTQ youth. Vanguard, active from 1965-1967, became the first known social change group composed mainly of LGBTQ youth. Editors Joey Plaster and Pastor Megan Rohrer present that history and activate it by republishing some of the Vanguard’s community newspaper articles as well as  newer work from LGBTQ youth. This intriguing book was not widely published and may be off the radar for San Francisco history buffs. 

Wide Open Town: a history of queer San Francisco to 1965 by Nan Alamilla Boyd - Ever wonder how San Francisco became so… gay? Historian Nan Alamilla Boyd answers that question in this authoritative deep-dive into how LGBTQ people territorialized San Francisco. With chapters entitled "Lesbian Space, Lesbian Territory," "Policing Queers," and "Transgender and Gay Male Cultures 1890s through 1960s," you’ll find plenty of evidence that explains how San Francisco became known as an LGBTQ capital. 

Disasterama! : Adventures in the queer underground, 1977-1997 by Alvin Orloff - What happened to gay nightlife after the1969 Stonewall Riots? Author Alvin Orloff guides you through his zany experiences in San Francisco's queer underground that were cut short by the impending HIV/AIDS epidemic. If you’re in the mood for a fun and witty memoir sprinkled with lesser known San Francisco stories, look no further than Disasterama!

Logical Family: a memoir by Armistead Maupin - One of San Francisco's literary heroes, Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin released his memoir in 2017. Learn how a gay transplant from North Carolina went from local newspaper writer to literary figure who used his gift to illustrate the experiences of people who move to San Francisco to find a chosen family. 

Pride: the story of Harvey Milk and the rainbow flag by Rob Sanders - Do you have young readers, aged 5-8, in your realm? Do you think they’d like to learn where the rainbow flag originated or who Harvey Milk was? Proudly share this San Francisco history picture book with the little ones in your life.

Out of the Shadows: Reimagining gay men’s lives by Walt Odets - A San Francisco-based clinical psychologist, Walt Odets reflects on his 30-year career working with his patients, primarily gay men. He presents an emotional history that includes how the HIV/AIDS epidemic has shaped the inner lives of three generations of gay men differently. If you or a loved one are in this group and looking for self-help or self-actualization, this book is for you!


Posted on Jun. 10, 2021 by Myles Cooper