“Our Gay History in Fifty States” by Zaylore Stout— “LGBT+ History Is American History”

Stout, Zaylore. “Our Gay History in Fifty States”, Wise Ink Creative Publishing, 2019.

“LGBT+ History Is American History”

Amos Lassen

One of the most exciting and monumental books to come out this year, “Gay History in Fifty States” has recently been published and it is amazing. It is the brainchild of Zaylore Stout who during a 2014 drive across the country detoured to landmarks of the LGBT+ heroes and history in each new place. From this trip his book was born. Weighing three plus pounds, the book covers all fifty states as well as Washington, DC, and island territories and it includes the highs and lows of American LGBT+ history. We read and learn about “LGBT+ presidents and Two-Spirit warriors, the inclusive progression of the gay rights movement, iconic orange juice boycotts, and the true origin of vogue dancing. From the childhood homes of historical figures to the safe spaces of grassroots organizations, this book is filled with destinations for those on their own local or cross-country tours of the past.”

I have found in my personal life that it is important for me to know the LGBT+ history of the places where I live and so I always try to read up about it. Now it is wonderful to have all of this history of all of America in one place. Like Stout tells us  that “LGBT+ history is–and will always be–American history.”

It is amazing how much times have changed. There was a time when a great deal of shame came with being a member of the LGBT+ community and it was not until those who participated in the Stonewall Riots decided they wanted to take that name and remind us to be proud of who they are. Since then, we have made great progress and it is important to note that this is/was in part due to our allies.  We meet those allies here as well as our own heroes. While this is something of a history book, it is actually “a celebration of our people’s lives, passions, accomplishments, and contributions. Finding your state and poring over its entries will feel like paging through a big gay yearbook, lovingly compiled just for you.”

“Our Gay History in Fifty States” is not only a new idea, it is a book that we need. I often worry that the new generations that enter our community have no idea of our struggle and our history. Now they can read that and specifically to where they live. Stout builds the “foundational knowledge essential to empathy and ally behavior” and we are reminded that we all have stories and that they are all important. Now we can speak out after having been silenced and unheard. We see here that anyone can be a hero and we become inspired to find our place in history and make a difference in the world.

”Our Gay History in Fifty States” is a wonderful gift and a great personal possession. You will find yourself returning to it all of the time and it will become one of the most valuable things you own.

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