For the first time, the American Library Association is offering its main stage to GLBT Book Month, a long-running event that highlights the best in literature that reflects the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender culture. It’s another example of how the organization has been at the forefront of gay rights issues over the years.
GLBT Book Month isn’t a new feature of the literary world. What is new, however, is the organization that’s hosting it.
The celebration, which was launched in the early 1990s as National Lesbian and Gay Book Month, is now underway with the backing of the American Library Association, the first time the group has represented the annual event.
ALA is participating in an initiative that’s been an important part of gay and lesbian culture ever since The Publishing Triangle, an association of LGBT publishers, established it in 1992. The event is timed to reflect the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a weeklong series of violent protests that began on June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Greenwich Village gay establishment the Stonewall Inn, helping build momentum around the gay rights movement.
In taking the event over, ALA credited The Publishing Triangle for having “the foresight to initiate this event almost a quarter century ago.”
“We are incredibly appreciative of the historic work and brave first steps taken by many authors and publishers over the past 50 years to bring recognition to GLBT literature,” ALA President Courtney Young said in a news release.
As part of its sponsorship efforts, ALA will hold a series of LGBT events and awards while integrating programming related to the gay rights movement into its annual conference, which takes place in San Francisco the last week of June. The event’s Opening General Session speaker is Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who played a substantial role in taking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor.
While ALA’s takeover of the annual event is new, what isn’t new is the association’s ties to the LGBT community. In 1970 the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) was formed within the ALA as the first professional group for LGBT people. Early on, GLBTRT worked to ensure that gay-themed literature was able to find a place on library shelves, and each year the group publishes a Rainbow List of LGBT-themed books with significant value for young readers.