Welcome to #GlobalPRIDELitMonth

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Welcome to #GlobalPrideLitMonth at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative

PRIDE month commemorates the Stonewall Riots that took place in June 1969 in New York City. They were a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBT2QIA+ rights in the USA (definitions provided below). PRIDE is now celebrated around the world. This month we will be celebrating the global literature of LGBT2QIA+ communities by focusing on books written by LGBT2QIA+ authors and/or featuring characters that identify with these communities. 

Much has been written about libraries and LGBT2QIA+ communities. Building on the role libraries play in distributing books with LGBT2QIA+ content, the books reviewed this month convey the experiences of LGBTQ2IA+ characters from across the world and communicate the richness of these sexual identities, expressions and communities, plus the myriad intersectionalities that reflect the lived experiences of people living and writing from around the world.

In the USA, the Three Percent resource from Rochester University reveals that only about 3% of all books published in the United States are works in translation. How many of those translated works feature LGBTQ2IA+ characters, or are written by an author that openly identities as as a member of the  LGBTQ2IA+ community?

As American educator Rudine Sims Bishop wrote in her essay, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors,” books offer different readers different experiences. Does that novel act as a mirror, reflecting a certain lived experience back to the reader? Is it a window, showing a world the reader has never before encountered? Is it a sliding glass door, an opening, an invitation, a portal into a new world? 

Written in 1990 about American children’s literature, Bishop found that powerful social groups find themselves mirrored in books, while facing a lack of stories of people different from them. Minority groups find themselves reading other people’s stories, while not seeing their own experiences represented. In the end, both groups suffer. When people do not see themselves represented in literature, they learn that they are not valued by their society. When people only see people like themselves represented, they learn to overly value their own place in society and to cultivate a narrower understanding of human experiences.

This month’s books at the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative can be windows and mirrors for library patrons. Many books featured this month are #ownvoices titles. Initially created by Corinne Duyvis in 2015 to highlight #kidlit about diverse characters written by authors from that same group, the hashtag #ownvoices has taken off to capture the concept of books that have authors that share marginalized identities with the protagonists.

This June, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Pride 2020 by reading the beautiful diversity of global literature written from LGBTQ2IA+ perspectives.

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LGBTQ2IA+ Terms and Meanings

What does LGBTQ2IA+ stand for?

LGBTQ2IA+ is an inclusive initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, allies and more. I learned about using this initialism while volunteering at Vancouver’s Out on the Shelves Library.

Here’s a guide to terms you’ll come across in this month’s book reviews, book lists and blog posts.

Lesbian: a female- identified person who is attracted romantically, physically, or emotionally to another female-identified person. This word in English has literary roots, as it comes from Greek island of Lesbos, where the 6th-century BCE poet Sappho lived and wrote poetry about her love of women.

Gay: a male-identified person who is attracted romantically, physically, or emotionally to another male-identified person.

Bisexual: People who are attracted to both men and women romantically, physically, or emotionally. It may also describe people that have a romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity, which is also known as pansexuality.

Transgender: People whose biological sex (or their assigned sex at birth) is different than the gender with which they identify. The opposite of transgender is cisgender, which describes persons whose gender identity or expression matches their assigned sex. Being transgender is independent of sexual orientation.

Queer or Questioning: An all-inclusive term referencing lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, trans people, and intersex people. Previously a derogatory term, this term is being reclaimed by members of the LGBTQ2IA+ community. Questioning refers to individuals that are currently questioning their gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation or all three.

2Spirit/Two-Spirit: a modern, English umbrella term used by some Indigenous North Americans to describe people who fulfill a traditional third-gender (or other gender-variant) ceremonial role. It was intended to carry on the traditional meanings of the terms in many Indigenous languages for culturally-specific ceremonial roles. It is not a synonym for a LGBTQ2IA+ Indigenous person.

Intersex: A person whose physical sex characteristics are not categorized as exclusively male or exclusively female.

Asexual: A person who is not attracted to anyone or does not have sexual orientation.

Ally: A person who does not identify as LGBTQ2IA+ but supports the rights and safety of those who do.

+: An inclusive symbol at the end to include people that may not feel included in the previous letters, such as people that identify as pansexual, non-binary or genderfluid.

Further Reading:

Guest Editor of #GlobalPRIDELitMonth and Writer: Anita Fata (she, her, hers) is currently pursuing a Master in Libraries and Information Studies at University of British Columbia’s iSchool. A daughter of European immigrants, she is a first generation Canadian settler, living and working on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in what is now called Vancouver, BC, Canada. Fascinated by the pitfalls of cataloguing, she also spends too much time thinking about translated literature and LGBT2QIA+ authors while volunteering at Out on the Shelves Library. Find her on Twitter @anita_if.

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