Thursday, June 2, 2016


We are proud to be a
Pride, Celebrating Diversity and Community, by Robin Stevenson (Orca Books) is geared to middle readers (8-12). I would suppose it would be perfect for a teen who is becoming aware of LGBT relatives or even teens who becoming aware that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. I would be remiss in my review if I didn’t note that I, who was seven when the Stonewall Riots happened, actually learned something from this book.

No fooling. It wasn’t something that happened in the last year or two that had slipped my attention, but the origins of gay-straight alliances, which Stevenson notes started at George Washington High School in New York City in 1972. She further cites a 1976 pamphlet from the Youth Liberation Front (her research and scope is impeccable) which exhorted gay teens to come out, a message that still needs to be heard today by people who have left their high school days behind.

Look, I understand. I started high school in 1976 and my recollections are not of an affirming space for LGBT youth (I got called “fag” by my classmates…a lot). I am not telling teens that they should come out; I’m telling everyone else that teens ought to be able to come out. I would have been horrified at though being found with with a pamphlet that said:
”Now it is up to us, the gay students, to have the courage to come out, so that we can help our gay brothers and sisters, as well as ourselves.”
Honestly, that’s a lot to ask of a gay teen, particularly in 1976. Stevenson takes the history of the gay rights movement from Stonewall, a story that everyone should know, and brings things forward to the current day. In this, she covers the community’s struggles for which Pride has been a chance to get together and remind ourselves that we can meet our goals. Pride parades were only a decade old when the LGBT community had to face the AIDS crisis. On a happier note, she also covered the marriage marriage equality movement.

Pride was published in Canada, and that’s a good thing, because though the Stonewall Riots happened in New York (with other protests and disturbances happening elsewhere at about the same time), Pride doesn’t belong to New York City or even the United States. She ends the book with a look at Pride around the world, because it’s become a global phenomenon. She does not cover Iceland where Pride has become arts festival celebrated by just about everyone (Iceland has fewer than 500,000 citizens).

But that’s a quibble. This book is packed with so much great information that it seems unfair to fault a 120-page book for not being exhaustive. Someone could create a massive tome, with little room for pictures (Pride is lavishly illustrated with photos and other materials), but how would you get the intended audience to read it?

In the forty-six years since the first Pride march, there have been far too many people who have wished that Pride marches would just go away and the LGBT community would slink back into the closet. Not gonna happen. Stevenson makes it clear in her book that this is a community and it one with a global reach. Her book is a great way to learn more about our community. It’s a great book, even if you’re not LGBT. Or Canadian.

Stevenson's book is an utter delight and should be in the hands of middle readers everywhere, whether it is is in their school libraries or (better yet) their homes.
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