Find Queer / LGBTQ+ Literature, Then and Now: Post-Stonewall Ages 15-18 on Outschool.

From the early 1900s to today, queer literature has gone through significant changes. Have you ever wondered if queer literature in the USA had an actual history? Sure, you can find books now with all sorts of queer protagonists, but what changes did queer literature go though after the beginning of the movement started by the Stonewall Riots? In this class series learners will study post-Stonewall literature, loosely defined here as post 1969 through the end of the twentieth century.

With the social change swirling, queer literature started undergoing a dramatic shift. Queer people looked at their lives, and the way they were perceived by society, and began refusing to be the repressed group the public wanted them to be. They began writing about protagonists who had normal lives, and who didn’t always have to be unhappy. Throughout the decades as queer people became more outspoken and open, their literature dealt with families, relationships, AIDS, and society, as well as the evolution in how people of varying sexualities and genders self-identified. While society at large still held the perception that queer people were unacceptable, or even mentally ill, queer people were quickly asserting otherwise.

In the first week we will talk about the impact that Stonewall and the surrounding movement had on the fiction landscape, and talk about the changes to the works that came out afterwards. Then, in each of the following three weeks we will explore the changes of a decade, and how they overlap with the others. In the seventies we saw more stories where – while the book might still have ended sadly – being queer was not seen as an inherently negative thing by the protagonist. Through the eighties and AIDS, queer literature continued to develop, with more and more positive portrayals, including the very first mainstream queer children’s book, and the emergence of other sexualities other than gay and lesbian on the page. Finally, as we head into the nineties and into the turn of the century, bisexual and trans people began to start to show up more frequently in novels and stories, and it grew easier to find their literature. Censorship still existed, but authors – and readers – were fighting back.

NOTE: While queer literature has existed for centuries in one form or another, this class sequence will focus on literature from 1900 to 2020. In addition, as we will be focusing primarily on the social movement in the United States as shaped by the Stonewall Riots era, a good deal of the books are set in the USA. While the class focus has to be narrow in order to be manageable for a class series, every country has their own queer movement which is just as valid and just as important to learn about.