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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.

Spring Season 2024

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

June Book Selection & Meeting

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

Thursday, June 27 at 7:00p ET  | RSVP HERE

Jafari S. Allen is Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University, where he is the Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies, and Editor-in-Chief of Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. Professor Allen is the author of There’s a disco ball between us: a theory of Black gay life (Duke 2022), which won the Society for Cultural Anthropology’s Gregory Bateson Prize; and ¡Venceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-Making in Cuba (Duke 2012); He conceived and edited the GLQ special issue Black/Queer/Diaspora; and has published scholarship in numerous journals and collections, including Unsettling Queer Anthropology: Foundations, Reorientations, and Departures; No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies.

Briona Jones joins the College as an Assistant Professor in English specializing in African American literature, Feminist and Queer Theory, and Black Queer studies. With a Ph.D. in English and Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from Michigan State University, Jones has published a collection of Black Lesbian writings titled Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought, the most comprehensive anthology centering Black Lesbian thought to date. During her research, Jones developed the concept of “Black Lesbian Aesthetics” to describe the heretical shift in self-definition that transpired after the groundbreaking formation of the Combahee River Collective in 1974. Jones’s teaching philosophy includes centering the knowledge and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and Queer people of color and other underrepresented students.

Past Book Selections

April

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

May

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

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: