James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Quest for Sobriety

The coming of the New Year has long been a cause for celebration. This year once again the lighted ball will descend in Times Square, 2009 will go out as an old man and 2010 will come in as a baby. The other tradition connected with Auld Lang Syne has been a problematic for some. The fact is that alcohol consumption and gay culture have been intimately connected since before the days that Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud downed their first absinthe cocktails.

In today's selection, "The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous: From the Beginning," Audrey Borden traces the role queers have played in helping construct the twelve-step program, a system utilized by groups as diverse as narcotic abusers, sex addicts and compulsive gamblers to name a few. The book is written in the personal, down-home style typical of these meetings. Borden lets her subjects tell their own stories while providing background information highlighting the specific obstacles LGBT folks faced in both their struggle to stay clean and sober as well as their struggle for acceptance withing the Alcoholics Anonymous Community.

Here is an online chronology of gays in AA. And here are more resources for Gay and Lesbian Recovering Alcoholics. Have a Safe and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Re-Imagining Christian Imagery

Christmas is on the horizon again bringing with it a melange of seasonal joy and darker, more complex emotions. Today's book, "Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More," is a collection of non-traditional, Christian iconography by eleven different artists who identify as Christian, Agnostic and even one Buddhist. It was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in the LGBT Arts and Culture category in 2007. That year the art was compiled by Kittredge Cherry, for an exhibit she mounted in Taos, New Mexico as part of the Festival of Progressive Spiritual Art . These are images that challenge the traditional visual interpretation of the sacred. Examples of the new visions include: a black, female "Jesus of the People," a lesbian "Madonna, Lover and Son," and a passionate, "Judas Kiss."

Cherry defines herself as a lesbian, Christian author, minister and art historian. She holds a master of divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion as well as undergraduate degrees in journalism and art history. Click here for a video of her speaking about this book as well as the censorship of art in general.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Queer Jews: History, Identity, Visibility

As Hanukah approaches today's books deal with the ever-evolving, much-debated issue of Jewish identity. Warren Hoffman's work, "the passing game: queering jewish american culture," delves into the history of the queer, Jewish pespective in American theater, fiction and culture in general. He examines the many forms passing (as non-Jewish and straight) and coming out (in both respects) have taken in the world of literature and the arts. Click here for Hoffman's online article: Closeted No More or Why Jewish American Culture is Really Gay.

Marla Brettschneider's book, 'The Family Flamboyant: Race Politics, Queer Families, Jewish lives,"starting with the personal experience of her own life, she widens the net to include adoption of children, non-traditional families, queerness, Jewishness, racial and ethnic politics and the socio-political interpretation of all of the above. At the University of New Hampshire, Brettschneider holds a joint appointment as professor of Political Philosophy and Women's Studies and is Co-ordinator of Queer Studies. Her theories are thoughtful and compelling.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Transformation of a Relationship

People undergoing gender reassignment are not always single. The impact one spouse's gender change on a formerly traditional heterosexual couple can, in many instances, blow a relationship apart. Helen Boyd didn't let that happen to her marriage. Instead she utilizes her book, "She's not the Man I Married: My Life with a Transgender Husband," to delve into her internal feelings and societal experiences surrounding her husband's transition from male to female.

Here is a video interview with Helen Boyd along with some other resources for spouses; a PFLAG pamphlet: Opening the Straight Spouse's Closet and another personal story: Can a Marriage Survive Transition?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

James Baldwin in Turkey

Literary luminary and pioneer, James Baldwin has done much to pave the way for African-American and gay writers who have come since. This book, "James Baldwin's Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile," by Magdalena J. Zaborowska expounds on his years in a country that straddles both Europe and Asia, where he came to view his status as "other" as part nemesis and part inspiration. According to Zaborowska, it was in Istanbul, where Baldwin learned to embrace the warmth of the Turkish people as well as his identity as a perpetual traveler, a foreigner in every nation.

Here is an additional online biograpical sketch of James Baldwin and an essay from the New Yorker that goes into more depth about his years abroad.

A Compassionate Eye: World AIDS Day 2009

The Hormel Center of SFPL will present "A Compassionate Eye: World AIDS Day 2009". Curator Adam Stoltman and photographer/author Thomas McGovern will present slides on the local and global side of AIDS. Stoltman will show the work of the late photographer Victor Arimondi (the subject of our current exhibition in the Hormel Center on the Third floor of the Main Library), and McGovern will discuss his book documenting AIDS worldwide (Bearing Witness). Tuesday December 1 at 6:00 PM. Lower Level Room LH58.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Change and American Family Law

The absence of laws regarding non-traditional couples and families has proved to be both a conundrum for judges and the source of much courtroom confusion. At times, the existence of this vast gray area, can lead to tragedy as in the case of Lisa Pond, Janice Langhbehn and their children. On a vacation to Florida, Pond sufferered an aneurysm. Her partner of 18 years and the children they raised together were denied access to her bedside as she lay dying. A hospital social worker told Langbehn point blank, as she denied her request, that the family were now in "an antigay city and state." By the time Langbehn and her daughter gained admission to her room Lisa Pond had lost consciousness. This past September Langbehn's lawsuit was dismissed by federal court.

The case of Sharon Reed and Jo Ann Ritchie was quite similar. Reed was barred from her partner, Ritchie's intensive care unit for extended periods of time preceding Ritchie's death. The two women had been together for 17 years.

To help explain, clarify and prevent these incidents from ocurring in the future Kimberly D. Richman has written, Courting Change: Queer Parents, Judges, and the Transformation of American Family Law. Her goal is to shed light on the "indeterminate and discretionary area of American Law," that encompasses issues surrounding partnership, parenting, child custody and visitation rights, to name but a few. Her book provides insight into the rationale behind court decisions and ways the law can be re-interpreted and changed to better meet the needs of the diverse families of the 21st century.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Queer Punk Panel Discussion

Queer Punk Panel Discussion
Tuesday, Nov. 17th, 7 p.m.
at the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library

The panel will discuss how being Queer influenced their music and will share memories of playing the San Francisco punk scene in the 80s and 90s. Panelists include KD Davis, bass player for Wilma and Impulse F, Debbie Hopkins, drummer for the Contractions and Jon Ginoli, founder of Pansy Division!

This program is part of PUNK PASSAGE:
San Francisco First Wave Punk
The Photography Of Ruby Ray at the Jewett Gallery, Main Library

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Real Cost of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

Lt. Daniel Choi was discharged as an Arabic translator in the New York National Guard, after he came out as gay on the Rachel Maddow Show. In that interview Mr. Choi said, "By saying three words to you today, I am gay, I am in violation of title 10 of the U.S. code." Sandy Tsao, a lesbian, was also discharged that week for uttering the very same three words.

In his book, Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, Nathaniel Frank provides a historical overview of the relationship LGBT folks have had to the U.S. Armed Forces since World War II. He debunks the notion that the inclusion of gay troops would interfere with necessary bonding. Frank categorically states, "There has never been any empirical evidence that openly gay service undermines unit cohesion." His work is a meticulously researched and compelling analysis of both the human and strategic costs of this piece of legislation.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Branch Opening Celebration!

Opening Day at the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library
by photographer J. Doiy

Monday, October 19, 2009

Unspeakable and Illegal

In many of the countries of the Middle East to be openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is to risk life and limb, and in some countries even the death penalty. But learning to navigate turbulent waters has always been a survival skill of LGBT folks, and Brian Whitaker, a scholar and a journalist, chronicles some of these strategies in his book, Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East. Although he tends to underestimate the role that sexism plays in these cultures, his insight into religious and secular bias is well worth the journey.

For more of an anecdotal and personal approach, check out Illegal Citizens: Queer Lives in the Muslim World by Somali writer and film-maker, Afdhere Jama. The style here is more informal consisting of individual interviews laced with commentary that includes more voices of women and transgendered folks forging an every day path of resistance in spite of many obstacles.

Alone or in combination these books provide an opening glance into the lives of LGBT Muslims and other Middle Eastern members of our community.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

B/GLAM: A "Family" Reunion Read/A Re-gathering of Tribe

Celebrate the coming-back-together of the Bay Area's best Black Gay literary voices. This "Family" reunion reading is an opportunity for this collective of community based writers to report back in on their comings and goings, their ups and downs and their short falls and ultimately their triumphs. This reading brings to the table and ultimately to the mic all of the stories that these writers have gone out and gathered. Join founders Cedric Brown and Marvin K. White as they read with Ramekon O'Arwisters, Byron Mason, Antoine Crowder, Louie Butler, Dazie Grego, Stewart Shaw, Derek Lassiter, Jair Trice, Juba Kalamka, Thandiwe Thomas De Shazor, Robert Quintana Hopkins, James Knox and Alan Miller. Historical and hysterical are the main ingredients for this reading! Tuesday, October 20th at 6:00 PM. San Francisco Public Library Koret Auditorium (Lower Level). 100 Larkin Street. Free.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Homegrown Poetry

Yesterday we had a day off for Columbus Day, which commemorates the anniversary of an event that some consider the beginning and others the end of "civilization" as we know it. Columbus and his crew called the people they "discovered" Indians because of their mistaken belief that they had landed in India. In Berkeley California the holiday is known as Indigenous People's Day and is celebrated as such.

Joy Harjo is a descendent of these first inhabitants and an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is also a musician, a lesbian and a poet extraordinaire. This collection, How We Became Human, represents her best work from 1975-2001. Her words weave a picture of the amazing, magnificence of the natural world, reminiscent of Mary Oliver, interspersed with a lens on the edgy, urban struggle for survival a la June Jordan. These poems serve as mantras that help us to "become human" and appreciate our world in all its fierce and fickle beauty.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Infighting and Insurrection

Coming Out Day is October 11th and this year it is also the day of "Equality Across America" the LGBT March on Washington. In honor of these events, this week's book is The Dividends of Dissent: How Conflict and Culture Work in Lesbian and Gay Marches on Washington. In this book, Amin Ghaziani analyzes four past Lesbian and Gay Rights Marches on Washington D.C. which have taken their historical place among a panoply of marches on the capital city. He examines the role that conflict plays with regard to the political organizing of an oppressed community. Yes, his tone is a bit academic, but both scholarly and lay organizers will resonate with his well-documented research and incisive observations.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Compassionate Eye: The Work of Victor Arimondi

Fearless, passionate, brave and timeless - the work of Victor Arimondi stands the test of time and informs us today, as much as when it was made, of the many complexities and challenges of the human condition with an uncanny grace, compassion and elegance. This exhibition, the first by an institution since his passing in 2001 - encompasses the many threads of his photographic work that touch portraiture, still life, social commentary and documentary, fashion, experimental work, and the abstract.

Exhibition: From September 12 through December 10, 2009

Main Library, Third Floor, James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tragedy Transformed into Activism

Matthew Shepard's murder changed all our lives but foremost among those affected was Judy Shepard, his mother. Both because of her grief, and in spite of it, she became an activist committed to ending hate violence against LGBT people. In her book, The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie and a World Transformed, she shares the intimate details of her loss with honesty, forgiveness, determination and grace.

Here is a video of Judy Shepard speaking out in the name of her son and an article about the rising incidence of hate crimes against LGBT folks in the U.S.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Portraits, Plays Perversions

Controversial playwright George Birimisa will read from one of his plays that takes place in the notorious Strand Theater on Market Street. His plays have been praised by Tennessee Williams, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, and The New York Times. Mrs. Trauma Flintstone will provide the entertainment, along with her bevy of drag divas including Virginia Suicide and Countess Katya Smirnoff Skyy.

Tuesday, September 29 at 6:00pm. Main Library. Lower Level. Latino-Hispanic Room B.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Love is a Many-Gendered Thing!

Hi Rowdy Rainbow Readers, this week's focus book is one about an experience that goes where no man has gone before. It's called, Labor of Love: the Story of One Man's Extraordinary Pregnancy and it's Thomas Beatie's memoir as the first Female to Male (FTM) transgendered person to give birth. In his chatty and informative memoir he chronicles his sex-changing and life-changing adventure. Check out these reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Booklist. Then go to the library and check it out!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome to the LGBT Resources Blog of the San Francisco Public Library!

The San Francisco Public Library is full of resources for the LGBT Community. All branches hold published materials, magazines, videos and databases to help you with your research. The largest collection of materials is held at the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center of the Main Library, which includes an archives collection on the 6th Floor as well an extensive number of circulation resources. The Center sponsors many political and literary programs which are all free.

Our other LGBT hotspot is the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch, which is temporarily closed for renovation. When its new look has been completed, (the estimated date is late October), it will have beautifully paneled wood ceilings, better lighting, an expanded teen section, more public computers and lovely new landscaping. LGBT programs will be scheduled there when it re-opens so follow our blog and we'll keep you posted!