A Queer Thing Happened to America

Brown, Michael L. (2011).  A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been. Concord, NC: EqualTime Books.

This is an anti-recommendation. I am only going to give a quick overview of this text because I fear that an in-depth exploration would be triggering for many. I feature it here only because the title and cataloging information may fool readers into thinking this is a positive book about queer history.

The book begins with apologetics for the police activity at the Stonewall riots, arguing that the cops were not targeting gay and trans folks. No, no! A “transvestite…slammed the cop with his purse” (p. 16) and then the poor police officers were so frightened that they retreated and had to call for reinforcements.

It gets worse from there. Fear-mongering about the “gay agenda” (really); smug religious sentiment (but whyyy are you calling me a bigot? Jesus said judge not lest ye be judged!); hand-wringing over “pedophilia” being taught through GLSEN toolkits for K-12 educators; tiresome arguments about transgender folks attacking people in restrooms; blustering about how good American businesses shouldn’t have to cater to “a man who chooses to wear a dress to work” (p. 283); and on and on.

Because of the way this book is cataloged, it will be among the first to come up in a library catalog search for any iteration of “queer history.” The title is misleading because it sounds kind of jaunty and tongue-in-cheek. And the cover photo is cute and innocuous. This worries me, because librarians may recommend this book to queer readers without knowing the content. And make no mistake; this is a hateful book, written to make LGBTQ folks feel shamed and shameful, and to make straight cisgender Christians feel pity and loathing toward us.

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About Charlie McNabb

Archivist, Folklorist, Librarian, Legend Tripper, and Queer Activist
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