We See You & We Read You

Pride Month Booklist

Gabbi Cisneros

June 01, 2022


Through both joyous celebrations and more difficult work and learning, we can strive to become better allies or LGBTQIA+ community members. We see you, and we read you.

Here in Milwaukee, our average 305 hours of sun and 70-something degree weather in June accommodates plenty of festivals and outdoor reading time. Arguably one of the month’s most fun celebrations is Pridefest, Wisconsin's largest LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and other sexual identities) festival since 1987! Pridefest is only two beautiful, raucous, cheerful days long amongst many more of continuing fights for equality for the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ youth are at higher risk for homelessness and early death than heterosexual youth, pay gaps remain for LGBTQ+ identifying employees, not to mention daily discrimination in the form of bathroom bans, assault, and microaggressions. 

Through both joyous celebrations and more difficult work and learning, we can strive to become better allies or LGBTQ+ community members. I hope you can join Milwaukee or your own city’s LGBTQ+ pride festivals this year, and continue learning through books like the ones we list below. 


We see you and we read you.


WakeUpbyMichelleMijungKim.jpegEXCERPT & AWARD WINNER | The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change by Michelle MiJung Kim, Hachette Go 

The 2021 Porchlight Personal Development & Human Behavior book of the year is The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change by Michelle MiJung Kim. 

As our Community and Publicity Manager, Emily Porter, wrote about the book: 

Seeking the knowledge and learning that enables us to become more well versed on everyday forms of oppression, and to better understand those around us, is important for us all. Michelle MiJung Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of Awaken, an organization that helps “empower leaders and teams to lead inclusively and authentically,” has an ample amount of experience in facilitating such understanding and bringing clarity to why we must address such things at work—in ways both big and (seemingly) small. 

And, as we all know from our own personal lives, seemingly small acts can have a big impact, while the bigger issues in our society have a way of filtering into our smaller, everyday interactions. Helping us more clearly see how and when and why that happens—especially in our own interactions, especially when it can cause us to inadvertently harm those we care about and work with—is just one way The Wake Up can transform our good intentions into real change. 

Read the excerpt adapted from the book's first chapter, "When 'Good People' Cause Harm." 


Epi-LillianFaderman.pngINTERVIEW | Lillian Faderman, author of Woman: The American History of an Idea, The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, and more

What does it mean to be a “woman” in America? 

In her new book, Woman, award-winning gender and sexuality scholar Lillian Faderman traces the evolution of the meaning from Puritan ideas of God’s plan for women to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and its reversals to the impact of such recent events as #metoo, the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the election of Kamala Harris as vice president, and the transgender movement. 

Our interview with Lillian Faderman was conducted by our Managing Director Sally Haldorson on March 23rd.

Here is the full video of that interview. 


QueerAdvantage.jpgREVIEW | The Queer Advantage: Conversations with LGBTQ+ Leaders on the Power of Identity by Andrew Gelwicks, Hachette Go 

This past Sunday, October 11th, was National Coming Out Day, and for those 24 hours, my social media feed looked more promising than it had in quite awhile. I scrolled through narrative posts that recounted people's moments coming out to themselves, their friends and their families, and I scrolled through short and sweet posts that declared and celebrated people's LGBTQ+ identities. This week, celebrity fashion stylist Andrew Gelwicks continues and expands on this celebration in his new book The Queer Advantage. 

From actor George Takei to entrepreneur and innovator Sue Youcef Nabi to former baseball star Billy Bean, the short profiles of and interviews with these leaders of various backgrounds makes it clear how embracing your identity, especially when external factors make it difficult, can help you succeed in other areas of your life. The book is a testament to manifesting the negative energy of being different, wrong, or strange into work that is beautiful and evolutionary. (GMC) 


TalesOfTheCity.jpegREVIEW | Tales of the City by Amistad Maupin, Harper Perennial 

I came across my copy of the dark rose taupe omnibus containing the first three novels from Armistead Maupin Tales of the City series while perusing the one and only Downtown Books in Milwaukee. This is a place where you can smell the pages as you cross the threshold, and you’re greeted by two giant felines roaming through the pillars of crowded shelves. Exactly. It’s heaven. Having previously read the original Tales of the City, having lived in San Francisco where the series takes place, and having watched and loved the 1993 mini series with the elegant Laura Linney (watch this before before the Netflix reboot), I knew when I saw it that I had to read all three books together. 

Tales of the City. Where do I begin with Armistead Maupin’s life changing series? Well, quite simply put, it is a masterpiece—and probably the reason why I moved to San Francisco in my twenties.

Keep reading this review by Emily Porter. 


ThisTownSleeps.jpegREVIEW | This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples, Counterpoint 

This year (or at least the typical annual events that usually mark a year) is pretty much cancelled. Shows, concerts, theatrical productions, family gatherings, sports, movies… the list goes on and on.  

June is Pride month, and like all other large gatherings, the celebrations for LGBTQ+ pride have also been cancelled: No parades, no dancing, and no catching up with friends we usually see at this time of year. Milwaukee’s own PrideFest would have included the recently announced winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race (and one of my good friends), Miss Jaida Essence Hall. Alas, there will be no such celebration in Wisconsin nor anywhere across the country. 

How to celebrate instead you ask? Well, books have not been cancelled, and there’s nothing like supporting up and coming gay artists and storytellers! Which brings me to This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples. The book is a supernatural, coming of age, gay romance that takes place on an Ojibwe reservation called Languille Lake in Minnesota. It features two men—one Native American, one White—and the bond they share growing up in a small town, who now face important decisions in their lives together as they meet again in their mid-twenties.

Keep reading this review by Roy Normington. 


TinMan.jpgREVIEW | Tin Man: A Novel by Sarah Winman, G.P. Putnam’s Sons 

After opening to the first page of Sarah Winman’s Tin Man, greeted by a quote from Van Gogh, I was compelled to fly through the pages and see what Winman had in store for me. This beautifully written novel is full of love, loss, and the awe of rebuilding your soul after devastating grief. 

We’re introduced early on to four characters who are all tied to the protagonist Ellis Judd in an intricate and intimate manner. Ellis is an artist who is working as an auto mechanic, forced into the trade by his emotionally distant father when he was young. In his youth he meets Michael, who becomes his life-long friend and eventually blooms into more. The present day is 1996 where Ellis, in middle age, tries to fill the days with work while numbing his grief—while we the reader piece together the past through his memories. We are allowed a peek into a beautiful love story between four souls intertwined around one story.

Keep reading this review by Emily Porter. 


UprightWomenWanted.jpgREVIEW | Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey, Tordotcom 

I just finished Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey. If you’re looking for an action-packed, quick read, this is a great choice. 

This near-future novella highlights an American Southwest that is riddled with bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies.  After watching her best friend and secret love, Beatriz, meet her demise for possessing resistance propaganda, Esther finds herself narrowly escaping an arranged marriage by hiding in a Librarian’s book wagon. There’s no place for outliers in society, so Esther has spent her entire life burying who she truly is. But when she joins the Librarians on their treks, she realizes that maybe there are others like her out there.

Keep reading this review by Lauren Kohlenberg. 


GiovannisRoom.jpegSTAFF PICK | Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, Everyman’s Library 
Recommended by Mike Schauwitzer 

Set among the bohemian bars and nightclubs of 1950s Paris, this groundbreaking novel about love and the fear of love is a book that belongs in the top rank of fiction (The Atlantic). 

David is a young American expatriate who has just proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Hella. While she is away on a trip, David meets a bartender named Giovanni to whom he is drawn in spite of himself. Soon the two are spending the night in Giovanni's curtainless room, which he keeps dark to protect their privacy. But Hella's return to Paris brings the affair to a crisis, one that rapidly spirals into tragedy. Caught between his repressed desires and conventional morality, David struggles for self-knowledge during one long, dark night–"the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life." With sharp, probing insight, Giovanni's Room tells an impassioned, deeply moving story that lays bare the unspoken complexities of the human heart. 


TheArgonauts.jpegSTAFF PICK | The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Graywolf Press 
Recommended by Ryan Schleicher 

An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of autotheory offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. It binds an account of Nelson's relationship with her partner and a journey to and through a pregnancy to a rigorous exploration of sexuality, gender, and family. An insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry for this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book. 


 CliniciansGuide.jpegSTAFF PICK | Clinician's Guide to LGBTQIA+ Care: Cultural Safety and Social Justice in Primary, Sexual, and Reproductive Healthcare edited by Ronica Mukerjee, Linda Wesp, Randi Singer, and Dane Menkin, Springer Publishing Company 
Recommended by Domi Quello 

Strive for health equity and surmount institutional oppression when treating marginalized populations with this distinct resource! 

This unique text provides a framework for delivering culturally safe clinical care to LGBTQIA+ populations filtered through the lens of racial, economic, and reproductive justice. It focuses strongly on the social context in which we live, one where multiple historical processes of oppression continue to manifest as injustices in the health care setting and beyond. Encompassing the shared experiences of a diverse group of expert health care practitioners, this book offers abundant examples, case studies, recommendations, and the most up-to-date guidelines available for treating LGBTQIA+ patient populations. 

Rich in clinical scenarios that describe best practices for safely treating patients, this text features varied healthcare frameworks encompassing patient-centered and community-centered care that considers the intersecting and ongoing processes of oppression that impact LGBTQIA+ people every day--particularly people of color. This text helps health providers incorporate safe and culturally appropriate language into their care, understand the roots and impact of stigma, address issues of health disparities, and recognize and avoid racial or LGBTQIA+ microaggressions. Specific approaches to care include chapters on sexual health care, perinatal care, and information about pregnancy and postpartum care for transgender and gender-expansive people. 


2000smademegay.jpegSTAFF PICK | The 2000s Made Me Gay: Essays on Pop Culture by Grace Perry, St.Martin’s Griffin 
Recommended by Lauren Kohlenberg 

From The Onion and Reductress contributor, this collection of essays is a hilarious nostalgic trip through beloved 2000s media, interweaving cultural criticism and personal narrative to examine how a very straight decade forged a very queer woman 
Today’s gay youth have dozens of queer peer heroes, both fictional and real, but former gay teenager Grace Perry did not have that luxury. Instead, she had to search for queerness in the (largely straight) teen cultural phenomena the aughts had to offer: in Lindsay Lohan’s fall from grace, Gossip Girl, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” country-era Taylor Swift, and Seth Cohen jumping on a coffee cart. And, for better or worse, these touch points shaped her adult identity. She came out on the other side like many millennials did: in her words, gay as hell. 
Throw on your Von Dutch hats and join Grace on a journey back through the pop culture moments of the aughts, before the cataclysmic shift in LGBTQ representation and acceptance―a time not so long ago, which many seem to forget. 



ONLINE READING | Wisconsin Historical Society’s article on LGBTQ+ history in Wisconsin 

The history of the LBGTQ+ community in Wisconsin is extraordinary, despite being largely untold. While the focus on the gay liberation movement is focused predominantly on America’s coasts, real progress was made right here in the Badger State. In 1966, Wisconsin had the first public call by a political body for abolition of restrictions against queer people so they could have “freedom of action.” Before Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, Midwest cities including Madison had openly gay elected officials. In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state to enact a gay rights law prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Wisconsin was also the first state to elect three openly gay/lesbian persons to Congress: Steve Gunderson, Tammy Baldwin, and Mark Pocan. Learn more about the history of the queer community through articles, artifacts, and other important items below that help tell their story.  View historical figures, Wisconsin-specific reading recommendations, and more. 

About Gabbi Cisneros

Gabriella Cisneros is a moderately bilingual artist whose passion for storytelling extends from reading to filmmaking, video editing, writing, photography, and social media. Working at Porchlight is kind of a dream job for someone who has a 55 page, indexed document of interesting words she’s found in books. Gabbi regularly makes time for taking photos, traveling, attending concerts, trying new restaurants, blogging, fitness, and—of course—reading.

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