UPK Pride Month Reading Essentials

by Rylie Oswald Al-Awhad

The University Press of Kansas has compiled a list of titles to commemorate Pride Month. June is the anniversary month of the Stonewall riots of 1969. The riots sparked after the New York City Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan. The raid and the following riots paved the way for the contemporary LGTBQ rights movement and the recognition of June as Pride Month.

Liberating Lawrence by Katherine Rose-Mockry

UPK’s upcoming Liberating Lawrence looks at early LGBTQ activism in the Midwest. The book features almost seventy interviews with activists from the time. Additionally, it follows the Lawrence Gay Liberation Front (LGLF), formed by University of Kansas student David Stout in 1970. LGLF advocated for equal rights and faced pushback from the university, which rejected the organization’s request for recognition three times. Afterward, LGLF filed a lawsuit against KU in 1971, gaining national attention when civil rights attorney William Kunstler took the case. Although LGLF did not win the legal battle, its efforts changed how campuses viewed the LGBTQ community.

“Gay and lesbian stories of the 1960s–80s come alive in this deeply researched history. Illustrating the importance of campus organizations to the larger project of LGBTQ+ liberation, Rose-Mockry illuminates how the Great Plains served as a center of gay activism and cultural life. The result offers a fresh perspective on movements for social justice.”—Amanda L. Izzo, coeditor of Left in the Midwest: St. Louis Progressive Activism in the 1960s and 1970s

Liberating Lawrence will be published in October 2024. Preorder your copy here.

Before Bostock by Jason Pierceson

Before Bostock follows a Supreme Court case without LGBTQ ties and explains how it helped cement contemporary LGBTQ rights. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that sex stereotyping is a form of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The case, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, involves a cisgender, heterosexual woman who was denied a promotion for being too “masculine.” In following years, courts would apply the case to protect transgender people. This “accidental precedent” led to a victory in the LGBTQ community when the Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that employers cannot discriminate against a person based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“This book is ambitious, tackling decades of legal and political history; methods of statutory interpretation; complex constitutional law; extensive case law; the mechanics of the administrative state; the internal workings of both the religious right and the LGBTQ civil rights movement; and the arguments regarding different methods of attaining sociolegal change. Pierceson adeptly covers these multifaceted machinations in an engaging, accessible manner.”—Political Science Quarterly

No Place Like Home by C. J. Janovy

No Place Like Home explores twenty-first century Kansas LGBTQ activism. It showcases how the LGBTQ community fought to make red-state Kansas home. The book spotlights interviews with activists from urban and rural Kansas. Overall, it shows the importance of activism in the Midwest, especially in the home state of the Westboro Baptist Church.

“With fine prose and a big heart, No Place Like Home reminds us—once and for all—that flyover country is destination travel for those of us interested in contemporary American LGBT life. In Janovy’s beautiful book, curious readers encounter wide-ranging responses to queer ‘Kansas lifestyle’ as it politically evolved over the past two decades. The individuals that she painstakingly chronicles across these pages will not be forgotten anytime soon.”—Scott Herring, author of Another Country: Queer Anti-Urbanism

Janovy’s book was adapted into a documentary in 2023. The West Wyandotte Library in Kansas City will host a screening and author talk with Janovy at 5:00 p.m. on June 27.

The Courts, the Ballot Box, and Gay Rights by Joseph Mello

Published a year after Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage, The Courts, the Ballot Box, and Gay Rights looks at how conservative politicians appealed to religion and parental rights to win votes against same-sex marriage but could not replicate the success in court. Joseph Mello concludes that while politicians swayed votes against same-sex marriage with certain language, the court’s scrutiny determined that the arguments contained discriminatory stereotypes unsupported by evidence. The book analyzes how courts decide LGBTQ and other rights-based issues, such as affirmative action, abortion, immigration, and drug policy.

“In The Courts, the Ballot Box, and Gay Rights, Joseph Mello provides a nuanced, detailed analysis of the importance of context for the development of arguments for and against same-sex marriage. This book fundamentally transforms our understanding of how social movements develop arguments by connecting two arenas of contention that are typically analyzed separately—the courts and the ballot box.” —Amy L. Stone, author of Gay Rights at the Ballot Box

New in paperback in July 2024. Preorder your copy here.

Judging the Boy Scouts of America by Richard J. Ellis

When nineteen-year-old James Dale came out as gay, the Boy Scouts terminated his membership. Dale sued for discrimination, resulting in the 2000 Supreme Court case Boy Scouts v. James Dale. Judging the Boy Scouts of America tracks the case’s journey to the Court’s final decision to rule in the Scouts’ favor. Richard Ellis makes connections between Dale’s journey as a gay man and LGBTQ activism. Ellis also explores the 2013 reversal of the case that ended the Scouts’ ban on gay youth.

“With an appreciation for the realities of practice and advocacy, the book identifies Dale as part of a shift in Lambda Legal’s impact litigation strategy as it moved from safer, more lucrative AIDS cases toward riskier, higher-profile work, and describes the challenges of litigating in a rapidly evolving legal and cultural environment.”—Harvard Law Review

The Case for Gay Rights by David A. J. Richards

The Case for Gay Rights provides perspective for LGBTQ rights in the early 2000s. David Richards combines his own experiences as a gay man with political and psychological insights to make a case that LGBTQ individuals deserve the same rights as other Americans. Richards draws on two Supreme Court cases, Bowers v. Hardwick, which upheld Georgia’s anti-sodomy laws in 1986, and Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down Texas’s anti-sodomy laws and overturned the Bowers decision seventeen years later. Additionally, Richards examines debates over same-sex marriage and LGBTQ individuals serving in the military.

“This book captivated me, gripped my attention. The interweaving of a personal quest for an ethical voice and open identity with the quest to affirm equal protection of gay rights is original and leads to astonishing insights. . . . A brilliant and incisive work.”—Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice and The Birth of Pleasure

The Sharon Kowalski Case by Casey Charles

When Sharon Kowalski became comatose from a car accident, her lesbian partner fought for guardianship of her. However, Kowalski’s parents also sought guardianship, resulting in a legal battle. Casey Charles draws on trial transcripts and personal interviews to complete an account of Thompson’s fight for Kowalski. The book provides perspective of the LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights to care for their partners. Charles shows how a dispute in Minnesota caught the nation’s attention and became a larger struggle for the LGBTQ community.

“Charles’s compelling and crucial study should also appeal to the general public, including lesbians and gays, and to activists in human rights: lesbians and gays, women, the disabled, and persons of color.”—Journal of Lesbian Studies