What to Read this Month: June 2019

Happy Pride Month! In addition to these books, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections. If you’re looking for something good to watch or listen to, explore Lilly’s Devil DVDs and the Music Library’s CD collection.


Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl: A Novel by Andrea Lawlor (they/them).

It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flâneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco – a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure.

Andrea Lawlor’s debut novel offers a speculative history of early ’90s identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation. Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is a riotous, razor-sharp bildungsroman whose hero/ine wends his way through a world gutted by loss, pulsing with music, and opening into an array of intimacy and connections.

Andrea Lawlor recently appeared on the podcast Against Everyone with Connor Habib, in an episode titled Andrea Lawlor or Queer Non-Binary Sex Revolution Now!


Born Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria (s/he, he/r).

From one of the world’s foremost intersex activists, a candid, provocative, and eye-opening memoir of gender identity, self-acceptance, and love.

My name is Hida Viloria. I was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that my body looked different. Having endured an often turbulent home life as a kid, there were many times when I felt scared and alone, especially given my attraction to girls. But unlike most people in the first world who are born intersex – meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female – I grew up in the body I was born with because my parents did not have my sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-six and encountered the term intersex in a San Francisco newspaper that I finally had a name for my difference. That’s when I began to explore what it means to live in the space between genders – to be both and neither. I tried living as a feminine woman, an androgynous person, and even for a brief period of time as a man. Good friends would not recognize me, and gay men would hit on me. My gender fluidity was exciting, and in many ways freeing – but it could also be isolating.

I had to know if there were other intersex people like me, but when I finally found an intersex community to connect with I was shocked, and then deeply upset, to learn that most of the people I met had been scarred, both physically and psychologically, by infant surgeries and hormone treatments meant to “correct” their bodies. Realizing that the invisibility of intersex people in society facilitated these practices, I made it my mission to bring an end to it – and became one of the first people to voluntarily come out as intersex at a national and then international level.

Born Both is the story of my lifelong journey toward finding love and embracing my authentic identity in a world that insists on categorizing people into either/or, and of my decades-long fight for human rights and equality for intersex people everywhere.

Hida Viloria is a writer, author, and vanguard intersex and non-binary activist. S/he has spoken about intersex human rights at the United Nations and as a frequent television and radio guest (Oprah, Aljazeera, 20/20, NPR, BBC…), consultant (Lambda Legal, UN, Williams Institute…) and op-ed contributor (NewNowNext, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Advocate, Ms., CNN.com…).


¡Cuéntamelo! : Oral Histories by LGBT Latino immigrants by Juliana Delgado Lopera (she/her), illustrated by Laura Cerón Melo, edited by Shadia Savo and Santiago Acosta.

¡Cuéntamelo! began as a cover story for SF Weekly. It is “[a] stunning collection of bilingual oral histories and illustrations by LGBT Latinx immigrants who arrived in the U.S. during the 80s and 90s. Stories of repression in underground Havana in the 60s; coming out trans in Catholic Puerto Rico in the 80s; Scarface, female impersonators, Miami and the ‘boat people’; San Francisco’s underground Latinx scene during the 90s and more.”

Juliana Delgado Lopera is an award-winning Colombian writer, historian, speaker and storyteller based in San Francisco. She’s the creative director of RADAR Productions, a queer literary non-profit in San Francisco. Her debut novel Fiebre Tropical, which won the 2014 Jackson Literary Award, will be out Spring 2020 from The Feminist Press.


Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man: A Memoir by Chiké Frankie Edozien (he/him).

From Victoria Island, Lagos to Brooklyn, U.S.A. to Accra, Ghana to Paris, France; from across the Diaspora to the heart of the African continent, in this memoir Nigerian journalist Chiké Frankie Edozien offers a highly personal series of contemporary snapshots of same gender loving Africans, unsung Great Men living their lives, triumphing and finding joy in the face of great adversity. On his travels and sojourns Edozien explores the worsening legal climate for gay men and women on the continent; the impact homophobic evangelical American pastors are having in many countries, and its toxic intersection with political populism; and experiences the pressures placed on those living under harshly oppressive laws that are themselves the legacy of colonial rule – pressures that sometimes lead to seeking asylum in the West. Yet he remains hopeful, and this memoir, which is pacy, romantic, and funny by turns, is also a love-letter to Africa, above all to Nigeria and the megalopolis that is Lagos.

Chiké Frankie Edozien is an award-winning reporter whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Times (UK), Quartz, Vibe magazine, Time Magazine, and more.

He was a New York Post political reporter for over a decade. His work has been featured on numerous new broadcasts. He co-founded The AFRican magazine in 2001 to tell often overlooked, African stories.


Trans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to Man by Brian Belovitch (he/him).

Imagine experiencing life not as the gender dictated by birth but as one of your own design. In Trans Figured, Brian Belovitch shares his true story of life as a gender outlier and his dramatic journey through the jungle of gender identity.

Brian has the rare distinction of coming out three times: first as a queer teenager; second as a glamorous transgender woman named Tish, and later, Natalia Gervais; and finally as an HIV-positive gay man surviving the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. From growing up in a barely-working-class first-generation immigrant family in Fall River, Massachusetts, to spinning across the disco dance floor of Studio 54 in New York City; from falling into military lock-step as the Army wife of a domineering GI in Germany to having a brush with fame as Natalia, high-flying downtown darling of the boozy and druggy pre-Giuliani New York nightclub scene, Brian escaped many near-death experiences.

Trans Figured chronicles a life lived on the edge with an unforgettable cast of characters during a dangerous and chaotic era. Rich with drama and excitement, this no-holds-barred memoir tells it all. Most importantly, Brian’s candid and poignant story of recovery shines a light on the perseverance of the human spirit.

In 2016, Brian created Queer Stages an LGBTQ playreading group whose mission is to preserve and present LGBTQ themed plays and playwrights for current and future generations. Recently he was Alice, First Lady of Earth in Charles Ludlam’s Conquest of the Universe or When Queens Collide at LaMama to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Ridiculous Theatre. In film and television, Brian has appeared in The Irishman, Nor’easter, Silent Prey, Q&A, The Deuce, Homeland, and The Americans.

 


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