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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.

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.

May Book Selection & Meeting

Thursday, May 30 at 6:00p ET  | RSVP HERE

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

Dr. Cookie Woolner is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Memphis where she teaches classes on modern US history, the histories of women and gender, queer history, and the history of popular culture and music. Her first book, The Famous Lady Lovers: Black Women and Queer Desire before Stonewall, was published in 2023 on the University of North Carolina Press’ Gender and American Culture series and was nominated for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction from the Publishing Triangle. Woolner has also published in periodicals from Harper’s Bazaar to The Journal of African American History, has recently been interviewed by NBC News and Time Magazine, and her book has received accolades from Ms. Magazine and the Library Journal among other outlets. She currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her formerly feral cats Bessie and Loretta.

Brontez Purnell is a writer, musician, dancer, filmmaker, and performance artist. He is the author of a graphic novel, a novella, a children’s book, the novel Since I Laid My Burden Down, and 100 Boyfriends, a collection of stories. The recipient of a 2018 Whiting Award in Fiction, he was named one of the thirty-two Black Male Writers of Our Time by T: The New York Times Style Magazine in 2018. Purnell is also the frontman for the band The Younger Lovers, a cofounder of the experimental dance group the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, the creator of the renowned cult zine Fag School, and the director of several short films, music videos, and the documentary Unstoppable Feat: The Dances of Ed Mock. Born in Triana, Alabama, he’s lived in Oakland, California, for more than a decade.

Past Book Selections


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


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: