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Lavender Literary Society

The American LGBTQ+ Museum’s Book Club is a space for community and connection, bridging generations through the magic of storytelling, and illuminating our history and culture. Art by Loveis Wise.

The Lavender Literary Society isn't just a book club—it's a movement!

Reading and reflecting together on our literature becomes a powerful act of empowerment, a catalyst for change, and a testament to the resilience of the LGBTQ+ spirit. Participants will be part of something extraordinary. In this book club, we’ll not only read, we’ll weave the threads of our stories into a tapestry of strength, resilience, and pride.

The selections will be a mix of popular queer history and memoir, with inspiring authors and iconic guest facilitators coming to you both in-person and online. The pages we turn together will become stepping stones for inspiring intergenerational dialogue and fostering understanding, empathy, and unity. Together, we’ll traverse the landscapes of queer culture, savoring the nuances and complexities that make our stories uniquely ours.

Why lavender?

In the 1950s, during the McCarthy era, state-sanctioned discrimination became part of a national witch-hunt to purge gay men and lesbians from federal government jobs. Dubbed “The Lavender Scare” by historian David K. Johnson, the suffocating climate of fear and suspicion subsequently led to around 5,000 federal agency employees losing their jobs. In the post-Stonewall era, the color lavender became a symbol of empowerment. Lesbians protesting their exclusion from NOW by Betty Friedan proudly called themselves “The Lavender Menace.”

And once you sign up….

  • We’ll email you invitations to upcoming sessions. In 2024, we’ll be hosting six book club sessions. RSVP at the link provided to attend.
  • The amazing folx at Reparations Book Club in LA are providing book club members with discount codes for purchasing the books we are featuring.
  • Read the book on your own or in community with one of our partners.
  • Join us online or in-person for time with the author followed by a 30-minute Q&A.
  • All those who’ve registered for the session will also receive the recording.
  • Book club members will receive a free, downloadable bookmark with beautiful graphic designs by the incredible Loveis Wise (they/he), a multidisciplinary artist, designer, creative director, and Capricorn, drawing reimagined futures and playfulness in Los Angeles.

Fall Season 2024 Begins in October

Don’t have your books yet? Be sure to order a copy from Reparations Book Club with the discount code LAVENDER10.

Past Book Selections


The Risk It Takes To Bloom by Raquel Willis | Hosted by B. Hawk Snipes


The Famous Lady Lovers by Cookie Woolner | Hosted by Brontez Purnell


There’s a Disco Ball Between Us by Jafari S. Allen | Hosted by Briona Jones

Summer Reading List

Our Lavender Literary Society book club  is taking a pause until October, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep reading and supporting Queer stories! Here’s our Queer Summer Reading List—perfect for the beach, relaxing at home in your favorite chair, or listening on your daily commute.

🌈 How to Live Free in a Dangerous World By Shayla Lawson

Poet and journalist Shayla Lawson follows their National Book Critics Circle finalist This Is Major with these daring and exquisitely crafted essays, where Lawson journeys across the globe, finds beauty in tumultuous times, and powerfully disrupts the constraints of race, gender, and disability.

🌈 Countries of Origin By Javier Fuentes

In this stunning debut, Fuentes chronicles a tumultuous, passionate love affair between two young men from vastly different worlds during one, extraordinary summer in Spain, in what is ultimately a meditation on identity, class, belonging and desire.

🌈 Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing By Lauren Hough

At once razor-sharp, profoundly brave, and often very, very funny, the essays in Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thinginterrogates our notions of ecstasy, queerness, and what it means to live freely. Each piece is a reckoning: Of survival, identity and how to reclaim one’s past when carving out a future.

🌈 Your Driver Is Waiting By Priya Guns

In this electrifyingly fierce and funny social satire – inspired by the iconic 1970s film Taxi Driver – a ride share driver is barely holding it together on the hunt for love, dignity, and financial security … until she decides she’s done waiting.

🌈 Tomorrow Will Be Different By Sarah McBride

Informative, heartbreaking, and profoundly empowering, Tomorrow Will Be Different is a story of love and loss and a powerful entry point into the LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights and what it means to be openly transgender. McBride weaves the important political and cultural milestones into a personal journey that will open hearts and change minds.

🌈 Island in the City By Micah McCrary

In Island in the City, McCrary considers three places he has called home (Normal, Illinois; Chicago; and Prague) and reflects on how these surroundings have shaped him. His sharp-eyed, charming memoir-in-essays contemplates how aspects of his identity, such as being black, male, middle-class, queer, and American, have developed and been influenced by where he hangs his hat.

🌈 Cactus Country: A Boyhood Memoir By Zoë Bossier

If you’re looking to take a break from genre fiction during your summer reading and try something more reflective, this literary coming-of-age memoir is just what you need. Bossier was 11 when their family moved to a trailer park in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. With a short haircut, baggy clothes, and a big sense of adventure, Bossier found a home in their community as a trans boy.

🌈 Kissing Girls on Shabbat By Sara Glass

A moving coming-of-age memoir in the vein of Unorthodox and Educated, about one young woman’s desperate attempt to protect her children and family while also embracing her queer identity in a controlling Hasidic community.

🌈 Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler

Relying on unprecedented access to survivors and archives, Robert W. Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of thirty-one men and one woman on June 24, 1973, at a New Orleans bar, the largest mass murder of gays until 2016 .

PS: If you missed any of our previous book club meetings, you can still sign up to be a Lavender Literary Society member to access the recordings of previous meetings!

Fall Season Book Selections


Queer Legacies: Stories from Chicago’s LGBTQ Archives by John D’Emilio


The Women’s House of Detention by Hugh Ryan



National Book Club Partners

Looking to join a reading community? These bookstores, libraries and LGBTQ+ centers across the U.S. will be participating as Lavender Literary Society partners. And there are more on the way! Contact the Book Club Partner closest to you to get involved, or start your own chapter at your local bookstore: