Rainbow Reading

Illustration of a long shadow lgbt gay pride flag with a book
Illustration of a long shadow lgbt gay pride flag with a book

Image by BigStock/jpgon

GLBT Literature is Black and White and Read All Over.

“Unasked by night; I am true Love, I fill
The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.’
Then sighing, said the other, ‘Have thy will,
I am the Love that dare not speak its name.’ “
–“Two Loves,” Lord Alfred Douglas

In pre-Stonewall America, most GLBT folk lived in a world of big ears and bigger fists, a setting where spoken expression of non-hetero love might land one in a hospital bed, a jail cell… or a casket. Gay individuals often spent their lives thrashing through an ocean of lonely. The only lifeline these souls could use to pull themselves along was provided by gay literature which connected them to a larger community. And that literature, along with the community it fosters, is on full spectrum-y display today.

Magus Books is but one component in a self-described Healing Center that, according to its website (www.magusbooks.com), “offers a variety of complementary healing treatments, with a team of trained Wellness Practitioners.” This variety includes “herbal consultations, massage and reiki healing, cupping, aromatherapy, moxibustion, and audio-visual stimulation sessions.”

And Magus Books builds a singular community connecting people looking for a connection. “Magus has created a community where it is safe to be a seeker,” Magus Books co-owner Mela Amara assures. “We welcome anyone who wants to understand and know themselves better and how they fit into the world we all share.  Lavender‘s readers would be interested in our Gay Men’s Spirituality Group that meets every other Monday night to discuss relevant topics and feel connected to a community.”

That connection reaches over Old Muddy and into the state capital by way of the recently-renamed Next Chapter Booksellers. “Many authors and publishers are marking the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall with some outstanding books,” store manager David Enyeart observes. “You can read a history of the demonstration—The Stonewall Reader—or check out photos from more recent protests and celebrations—Pride: Fifty Years of Parades and Protests. Closer to home, there’s a great collection of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from one of the longest-running queer reading series in the nation, right here in Minnesota, Queer Voices. And if you’d rather listen to an audiobook, the recent revival of Angels in America will be available soon.”

Magers and Quinn Booksellers, meanwhile, lays claim to the title of the Twin Cities’ largest independent bookstore, having sold new, used, out-of-print and collectible books there for over two decades. According to their website (www.magersandquinn.com). Their stock, as stated on their website, “represent all subjects and feature everything from unusual and hard-to-find editions to popular favorites and current releases.”

Mary Magers offers two Pride-centric recommendations. Proclaims she: “As we mark the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, Land of 10,000 Loves and Queer Twin Cities are two books recognize the lasting impact of those locally who dedicated themselves to the struggle for gay rights.”

Land of 10,000 Loves by Stewart Van Cleve honors the diverse and rich legacy of Minnesota queer history,” Magers told Lavender. “In this illustrated history he also shines a light on the Tretter Collection at the University of Minnesota, and Mr. Tretter’s life’s work, one of the most comprehensive accounts of international queer history in the world. Steward did an event at Magers & Quinn, and he sticks in my mind as being one of the most prepared authors we ever had, and one of the nicest.”

But that’s only half of Magers’ endorsement. “[I also recommend] Queer Twin Cities, Twin Cities GLBT Oral History Project, edited by Kevin P. Murphy, Jennifer L. Pierce, and Larry Knopp,” she reveals.  “Another University of Minnesota Press publication, Queer Twin Cities is a collection of essays on Minnesota’s past and present queer communities drawn from the Twin Cities GLBT Oral History Project.”

The titles of the reviewed books prove that modern GLBT love not only dares to speak its name, that Love dares the world to try to shut it up. The gay community it fostered for generations has fully integrated into the local community (and vice versa), but in our post-Will, post-Grace era, gay literature no longer serves as a lifeline—rather, it serves as a baton.

Magers & Quinn Booksellers
3038 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN

Magus Books
1848 Central Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN

Next Chapter Booksellers
38 S. Snelling Ave.
St Paul MN

Lavender Magazine

5100 Eden Ave, Suite 107 • Edina, MN 55436 • 612.436.4660

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