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50 LGBTQ+ Nonfiction Books for 50 Years of Pride in London | RBC x Pride in London Popup 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

September 26, 2022

We had a brilliant time gifting 50 LGBTQ+ Nonfiction reads at the Pride in London Popup to mark 50 years of Pride in London! 🌈❤️📚Thank you to everyone who came along and said hi today. We loved talking all things queer nonfiction to everyone who visited! We’re all about learning + activism through nonfiction at Rebel Book Club, so it was a real pleasure to share that with you all.
We couldn’t have done this without the help of our friends at Canongate, Picador, Atlantic, Reaktion, Harper360UK and Harper Collins Children's Books.
And a massive thanks to Pride in London for having us!
Enjoy your reading + Happy Pride from team RBC! 📚🏳️🌈

If you missed out on the pop up, make sure you follow the work of these fantastic authors whose books were on display...

Canongate:

Bi: The Hidden Culture, History and Science of Bisexuality by Julia Shaw

In Bi: The Hidden Culture, History and Science of Bisexuality, Shaw explores all that we know about the world's largest sexual minority. From the hunt for a bi gene, to the relationship between bisexuality and consensual non-monogamy, to asylum seekers who need to prove their bisexuality in a court of law, there is more to explore than most have ever realised. This rigorous and fun book will challenge us to think deeper about who we are and how we love.

Dr Julia Shaw is a criminal psychologist at University College London, and part of Queer Politics at Princeton University which works for LGBT+ equality, democracy and civil rights. She is actively involved in bisexual research, and is the founder of the international Bisexual Research Group. Dr Shaw also has a hit BBC podcast, Bad People, where together with her co-host she uses research to examine some of society’s most pressing issues. She is the author of The Memory Illusion, which was published in 20 languages, and Making Evil, which was a bestseller in Canada and Germany. She lives in London.

“Endlessly illuminating, challenging and compelling. Bi is a vivid and vital read”
- Musa Okwonga, author + podcast host

Things I have Witheld by Kei Miller

In this moving and lyrical collection of essays, the award-winning poet and novelist Kei Miller explores the silence in which so many important things are kept. He examines the experience of discrimination through this silence and what it means to breach it: to risk words, to risk truths. And he considers the histories our bodies inherit – the crimes that haunt them, and how meaning can shift as we move throughout the world, variously assuming privilege or victimhood.

Kei Miller was born in Jamaica in 1978 and has written several books across a range of genres. His 2014 poetry collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, won the Forward Prize for Best Collection; his 2017 novel, Augustown, won the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Prix Les Afriques and the Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe et du Tout-Monde. In 2010, the Institute of Jamaica awarded him the Silver Musgrave medal for his contributions to Literature.

“Superb … wit and lyricism masterfully balanced to render a compelling whole.”  
- Guardian

Amateur by Thomas Page Mcbee

In this groundbreaking new book, Thomas Page McBee, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at Madison Square Garden while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence.

Through his experience of boxing – learning to get hit, and to hit back; wrestling with the camaraderie of the gym; confronting the betrayals and strength of his own body – McBee examines the weight of male violence, the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes and the limitations of conventional masculinity. A wide-ranging exploration of gender in our society, Amateur is ultimately a story of hope, as McBee traces a way forward: a new masculinity, inside the ring and out of it.

Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-FictionShortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize

Thomas Page McBee is an author, television writer, reporter, and “questioner of masculinity” (New York Times). His Lambda award-winning debut memoir, Man Alive, was named a best book of the year by NPR Books, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, and Publisher's Weekly. His “refreshing [and] radical” (The Guardian) follow-up, Amateur, was shortlisted for the UK’s  Baillie-Gifford nonfiction book prize and the Wellcome Book Prize, named a best book of 2018 by many publications, and translated into multiple languages. In the course of reporting the book, Thomas became the first transgender man to ever fight in Madison Square Garden.


A writer/producer, Thomas is currently developing several  projects focused on trans counter-narratives, as well as adapting Amateur for the screen. His most recent television writing credits include The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), Tales of the City (Netflix), and The L Word: Generation Q (Showtime). Thomas’s essays and reportage appear in the New York Times, The Atlantic, GQ, Vanity Fair, and many other outlets. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and dogs.

'A sweet, tender hurt of a memoir... McBee shows us what it takes to become a man who is gloriously, gloriously alive.'
- Roxanne Gay, author of Bad Feminist

Picador

Queer Intentions by Amelia Abraham

Combining intrepid journalism with her own personal experience, in Queer Intentions, Amelia Abraham searches for the answers to these urgent challenges, as well as the broader question of what it means to be queer right now. With curiosity, good humour and disarming openness, Amelia takes the reader on a thought-provoking and entertaining journey. Join her as she cries at the first same-sex marriage in Britain, loses herself in the world’s biggest drag convention in L.A., marches at Pride parades across Europe, visits both a transgender model agency and the Anti-Violence Project in New York to understand the extremes of trans life today, parties in the clubs of Turkey’s underground LGBTQ+ scene, and meets a genderless family in progressive Stockholm.

Amelia Abraham is a journalist from London. Her main interest is LGBTQ identity politics, and she has written on or around this topic for the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, the Sunday Times, the New Statesman, ES Magazine, VICE, i-D magazine and Dazed & Confused. She also writes about feminist issues, human-rights issues, health policy, arts and culture, and sex. Queer Intentions is her first book.

"A beautifully written, personal, intimate voyage into what it is to be queer. Incredibly eloquent, empathetic and passionate, this book will not just resonate with a new generation of queer people, but with all those who seek to be their allies.
A brilliant book"

- Owen Jones, author of Chavs and The Establishment

Atlantic Books

The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts

This is the definitive biography of Harvey Milk, the man whose personal life, public career, and cold-blooded assassination mirrored the dramatic emergence of the gay community as a political power in 1970s America.

Milk was the first openly gay politian to hold public office in the United States. He moved to San Francisco in 1972 amid a migration of gay men to the city’s Castro district and took advantage of the neighbourhood’s growing political and economic power to promote gay rights. Campaigning against the odds, and in the face of hate and death threats, Milk’s political flair finally earned him a seat as a City Supervisor in 1977. But only eleven months later he was gunned down by a fellow City Supervisor.

The Mayor of Castro Street is the emotionally-charged story of personal tragedy and political intrigue, murder at City Hall and massive riots in the streets, the miscarriage of justice and the affirmation of human rights and gay hope.

Randy Shilts was an American journalist and author. After studying journalism at the University of Oregon, he began working as a reporter for both The Advocate and the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as for San Francisco Bay Area television stations. In the early 1980s, he was noted for being the first openly-gay reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. His first book The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk was a biography of LGBT activist Harvey Milk.

Shilts garnered several accolades for his work. He was honored with the 1988 Outstanding Author award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the 1990 Mather Lectureship at Harvard University, and the 1993 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists' Association. Diagnosed with HIV in 1985, Shilts died of an AIDS-related illness in 1994, at the age of 42.

"A no-holds-barred character study and a history of the local gay movement...an investigative piece on the mechanics of big-city government in all its expedient, backbiting splendour."
- Washington Post

Reaktion Books

Outrageous!: The Story of Section 28 and Britain's Battle for LGBT Education​​​​ by Paul Baker

A personal and impassioned history of the infamous Section 28, the 1988 UK law banning the teaching "of the acceptability of homosexuality."

On May 23, 1988, Paul Baker sat down with his family to eat cake on his sixteenth birthday while The Six O'Clock News played in the background. But something was not quite right. There was muffled shouting - "Stop Section 28!" - and a scuffle. The papers would announce: "Beeb Man Sits on Lesbian."

The next day Section 28 passed into UK law, forbidding local authorities from the teaching "of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship." It would send shockwaves through British society: silencing gay pupils and teachers, while galvanizing mass protests and the formation of the LGBTQ+ rights groups OutRage! and Stonewall. Outrageous! tells its story: the background to the Act, how the press fanned the flames and what politicians said during debates, how protestors fought back to bring about the repeal of the law in the 2000s, and its eventual legacy.

Based on detailed research, interviews with key figures - including Ian McKellen, Michael Cashman, and Angela Mason - and personal recollection, Outrageous! is an impassioned, warm, often moving account of unthinkable prejudice enshrined within the law and of the power of community to overcome it.

"A surprising, smart, funny, and beautifully written book. Equal parts memoir and cultural history, it tells a detailed and deeply personal story of grassroots LGBT activism and everyday queer life in the UK over the past thirty years."
- Jason Baumann, editor of The Stonewall Reader

Fabuloso! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language by Paul Baker

Polari is a language that was used chiefly by gay men in the first half of the twentieth century. It offered its speakers a degree of public camouflage and a means of identification. Its colourful roots are varied – from Cant to Lingua Franca to dancers’ slang – and in the mid-1960s it was thrust into the limelight by the characters Julian and Sandy, voiced by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams, on the BBC radio show Round the Horne. (‘Oh hello Mr Horne, how bona to vada your dolly old eek!’)

Paul Baker recounts the story of Polari with skill, humour and tenderness. He traces its historical origins and describes its linguistic nuts and bolts, explores the ways and the environments in which it was spoken, explains the reasons for its decline and tells of its unlikely re-emergence in the twenty-first century.

With a cast of drag queens and sailors, Dilly boys and macho clones, Fabulosa! is an essential document of recent history – a fascinating and fantastically readable account of this funny, filthy and ingenious language.

"One of the most enjoyable books on the subject this year was Paul Baker’s Fabulosa!, an excavation of the now pretty well lost gay language of Polari, richly evocative and entertaining."
- Philip Hensher, The Guardian

Paul Baker is Professor of English Language at Lancaster University. His books include American and British English (2018) and Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language (Reaktion Books, 2020).

The Invention of Oscar Wilde by Nicholas Frankel

‘One should either wear a work of art, or be a work of art’, Wilde once declared. In The Invention of Oscar Wilde, Nicholas Frankel explores Wilde’s self-creation as a ‘work of art’ and a carefully constructed cultural icon. Frankel takes readers on a journey through Wilde’s inventive, provocative life, from his Irish origins – and their public erasure – through his challenges to traditional concepts of masculinity and male sexuality, to his criminal conviction and final years of exile in France. Along the way, Frankel takes a deep look at Wilde’s writings, paradoxical wit and intellectual convictions, as well as his marriage and affairs with a series of attractive young men, including his great love Lord Alfred Douglas. A compelling account of Wilde’s life and influence on both Victorian Britain and twentieth-century culture.

Nicholas Frankel is professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the author or editor of many books about Oscar Wilde, including The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated Uncensored Edition and The Annotated Prison Writings of Oscar Wilde.

"Oscar the man, Oscar the life, Oscar the tragedy, Oscar the standard bearer for art, Irishness, queerness, intellect and wit we all know. But there is Oscar the idea too: the symbol, the representative, the totem, the global icon which looms above the other identities. It is an identity whose construction Wilde himself began, but on which subsequent generations build. There is no one better to unwrap the mystery and challenge of this Oscar than Nicholas Frankel, whose previous work has already established him as one of the world’s foremost Wildeans. This book is such an invaluable and permanent addition to the literature."
- Stephen Fry

Harper360UK

The Gay Agenda: A Modern Queer History & Handbook by Ashley Molesso, Chessie Needham

A joyful celebration of the LGBTQ+ community’s development, history, and culture, packed with facts, trivia, timelines, and charts, and featuring 100 full-color illustrations.

Compiled and designed by queer power couple and illustrators extraordinaire, Ashley Molesso and Chess Needham, founders of the popular stationery company Ash + Chess, The Gay Agenda is an inviting and entertaining guide that pays tribute to the LGBTQ+ community. Filled with engaging descriptions, interesting facts, helpful features—such as historical queer icons and events and LGBTQ+ acronym definitions—this fabulous compendium illuminates the transformation of the community, highlighting its struggles, achievements, landmarks, and contributions. It also salutes iconic members of the LGBTQ+ community—the celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens who have made a notable impact on gay life and society itself.

The Gay Agenda is a nostalgic look back for older generations, an archive for younger people, and a helpful introduction for those interested in learning more about the community and its contributions. From James Baldwin and Emma Goldman to Marsha P. Johnson and Jodie Foster; the Pink Triangle and the Rainbow Flag to Stonewall and the AIDS crisis; Matthew Shepard and Pulse Nightclub to Sodomy Laws and Obergefell; Drag and Transitioning to The L Word and The Kinsey Scale, Freddie Mercury and Ellen Degeneres to Laverne Cox and David Bowie, this magnificent digest is a keepsake honoring all LGBTQ+, and the ongoing fight to gain—and maintain—equality for all.

Ashley Molesso (she/her) and Chess Needham (he/him) are a queer and trans couple based out of Richmond, VA. They create greeting cards and art prints that are bold, retro color palettes and they often use their artwork to make a political statement and to uplift the queer community. They are the authors of their own illustrated book about LGBTQIA+ history, published April 2020 by Morrow Gift/HarperCollins called The Gay Agenda: A Modern Queer History & Handbook, and the forthcoming Queer Tarot: An Inclusive Deck and Guidebook to be published with Running Press/Hachette in Spring 2022.

Deaf Utopia - A Memoir and a Love Letter to a Way of Life by Nyle DiMarco

A heartfelt and inspiring memoir and celebration of Deaf culture by Nyle DiMarco, actor, producer, two-time reality show winner, and cultural icon of the international Deaf community

Deaf Utopia is more than a memoir, it is a cultural anthem—a proud and defiant song of Deaf culture and a love letter to American Sign Language, Nyle’s primary language. Through his stories and those of his Deaf brothers, parents, and grandparents, Nyle opens many windows into the Deaf experience.

Deaf Utopia is intimate, suspenseful, hilarious, eye-opening, and smart—both a memoir and a celebration of what makes Deaf culture unique and beautiful.

Nyle DiMarco is an advocate, producer, actor, and model. Nyle has been breaking down barriers and winning over audiences since 2014, when he was a fan favorite on cycle 22 of America’s Next Top Model and became the second male winner and first Deaf contestant on the series. The following year, partnered with Peta Murgatroyd, he took home the coveted mirror ball trophy on season 22 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Nyle’s acting credits include roles on Difficult People, Switched at Birth, This Close, and Station 19 and he served as executive producer on the Netflix docuseries Deaf U.

He is passionate in his work as founder of The Nyle DiMarco Foundation, which focuses on bilingual education and aims to improve access to accurate information about early language acquisition. He lives in Washington, DC.

“A cheerful but sobering account of [DiMarco’s] life so far, peppered throughout with a broad-strokes history of Deaf persecution and advancement. . . . Genuinely informative, and rather ambitious as far as celebrity memoirs go. He does not see himself not as some kind of unicorn, that rare Deaf celebrity to gain a foothold in the hearing world, but as part of an intergenerational struggle.”
- New York Times

Harper Collins Children's Books

We were kindly given two fiction options to give to young people who visited the pop up...

Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman

'Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’, for God’s sake!

But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever…'

The first of two Solitaire spin-off novellas published in 2015, re-released with illustrations in 2020.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

'In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Victoria Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.'

Alice highly recommends you check out the CONTENT WARNINGS before reading this book.

Please note that Solitaire may not be suitable for all readers who have enjoyed Heartstopper.

Alice Oseman is an award-winning author, illustrator, and screenwriter, and was born in 1994 in Kent, England. She has written four YA contemporary novels about teenage disasters: Solitaire, Radio Silence, I Was Born for This, and Loveless. She is the creator of LGBTQ+ YA romance webcomic Heartstopper, which is now published in physical form by Hachette Children’s Group, and she is the writer, creator, and executive producer for the television adaptation of Heartstopper on Netflix.

Alice’s first novel Solitaire was published when she was nineteen. Her YA novels have been nominated for the YA Book Prize, the Inky Awards, the Carnegie Medal, and the Goodreads Choice Awards.

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