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L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ Resources

A guide to resources for researching LGBTQ+ topics, reading LGBTQ+ voices, and seeking LGBTQ+ literature and media.

Background Information

Triton College Library has a wide array of resources for research into LGBTQ+ topics. This is a general purpose guide for researching LGBTQ+ topics, reading LGBTQ+ voices, and seeking LGBTQ+ literature and media. 

General Reference

LGBTQIA+ is an acronym which refers to the wide variety of identities outside of cisgender heterosexuality.

General terms:

  • Cisgender - A term used to refer to an individual whose gender identity aligns with the one associated with the sex assigned to them at birth
  • Heterosexual - Refers to a person who is emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to a person of a different gender. Also referred to as straight

LGBTQIA+ terms:

  • Lesbian - Refers to a woman who is emotionally, romantically and/or physically attracted to other women
  • Gay - A term used to describe people who are emotionally, romantically and/or physically attracted to other men
  • Bisexual - The term refers to a person who acknowledges in themselves the potential to be attracted - romantically, emotionally, and/or sexually - to people of more than one gender
  • Transgender - Often shortened to trans. A term describing a person's gender identity that does not necessarily match their assigned sex at birth. This word is also used as an umbrella term to describe groups of people who transcend conventional expectations of gender identity or expression
  • Queer - A term used by some LGBTQ+ people to describe themselves and/or their community. The term is considered by some to be inclusive of the entire community. For some LGBTQ+ people, the term is seen as a slur when used by people who are not members of the LGBTQ+ community
  • Questioning - Describes those who are in the process of discovery and exploration about their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or a combination thereof 
  • Intersex - Refers to people who are biologically between the medically expected definitions of male and female
  • Ally - In the LGBTQ+ community, this term is used to describe someone who is supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals and the community
  • Asexual - Sometimes abbreviated as ace, the term refers to an individual who does not experience sexual attraction
  • Agender / Nonbinary - Agender refers to a person who does not identify with or experience any gender. Nonbinary refers to people who do not subscribe to the gender binary. Nonbinary people may understand their identity as falling under the transgender umbrella and may be transgender as well
  • Pansexual - Refers to a person whose emotional, romantic and/or physical attraction to people is inclusive of all genders

Each of these terms has a structured meaning, but their individual meanings are slightly different for the people who use them.

(These terms are sourced from PFLAG's National Glossary of Terms, see link above)

June is Pride Month

Many of you may know that Pride takes place every year during the month of June. With Chicago having a robust and active LGBTQIA+ community, as well as one of the biggest Pride events in the U.S., you may be used to seeing rainbow flags this time of year.

Check out this August 2021 updated map of the top 10 most popular pride parades in the U.S.. This map was created as part of an article by Joshua Crespo of Redfin. Crespo created this map using web search data from Google Trends.

Why do we celebrate Pride?

Pride month is celebrated in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. Stonewall was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States, and laws supporting LGBTQIA+ rights came about as a result of the increased visibility of the movement after Stonewall.

But Pride is not just about honoring our past. It's also about celebrating the dignity, equality, and increased visibility of LGBTQIA+ people as a social group. It's a time for LGBTQIA+ people and allies to get together to honor our history; those who fought for our rights and those who are no longer with us; and spread positivity and joy together as a social group. Common Pride activities include marches, parades, picnics, and demonstrations.

Why are there more flags than the rainbow flag? What do the different flags mean?

The original Pride Flag was created by Gilbert Baker, who designed the flag to fly over the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June 1978. The colors of this flag represent sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic and art, serenity, and spirit. The original Pride Flag was intended to be inclusive of all LGBTQIA+ identities and is pictured below. For more information on the history of Pride Flags, check out this 2022 listicle by Equality Maine.

The Original Pride flag, a rainbow flag with vibrant colors in descending order of pink, red, orange, yellow, green, teal, blue, and a deep purple. (This image of the original Pride Flag comes from Equality Maine's listicle, linked above).

As of 2022, there are a wide variety of Pride flags, some of which are inclusive of all LGBTQIA+ identities, and some of which are representative of individual identities. For more information on current Pride flags, check out this 2021 article by Queer In the World.

Can I wish my LGBTQIA+ friends "happy Pride"?

You can absolutely wish your LGBTQIA+ friends and family "happy Pride"! Pride is about recognizing that until recently it was not possible for many LGBTQIA+ people to be out. Wishing the LGBTQIA+ people in your life "happy Pride" is one way of showing your support.

Can I attend a Pride event as an ally?

Allies have been welcome at Pride events since the beginning. You will certainly be welcome at a Pride event! For more information about what to expect at a Pride event and how to be an ally, check out this article from My Resource Center.

Check out the Pride post on the Library Blog for more information!

December 1st is World AIDS Day

HIV-AIDS is an auto-immune disease that can affect anyone. In the 1980s, AIDS was known as "the gay disease" (Debunking Common Myths About HIV, the HRC Foundation). While AIDS disproportionately affected LGBTQIA+ people, particularly gay men, during this period, and continues to affect LGBTQIA+ people at higher rates than the rest of the population, AIDS is "by no means confined to LGBTQ people" (Debunking Common Myths About HIV, the HRC Foundation).

Getting Tested for HIV-AIDS

Getting tested for HIV-AIDS is a normal part of an STI screening. STI screenings should be conducted regularly with your doctor to ensure that you and your sexual partners are having safe sex. The best way to avoid contracting HIV-AIDS is to practice safe sex. The HRC Foundation recommends the following as part of your safe sex practices:

  • Use condoms.
  • Use lube. "Water-based or silicone-based lubricant... [can] prevent tears in the skin and...keep condoms from breaking."
  • Get tested.
  • Test and treat STIs. "Having an active STI...can make it easier to acquire or transmit HIV."
  • Talk to your partners.
  • Be mindful of drug and alcohol use. "Substance use can increase your chances of acquiring HIV directly and indirectly."
  • Change syringes. "If you inject hormones, drugs, or steroids, use a new, clean syringe...every time."
  • Consider PEP. "PEP is an HIV prevention strategy that can be used in emergency situations."
  • Consider PrEP. "PrEP is an HIV prevention strategy that can be taken every day to significantly reduce the likelihood of acquiring HIV."

(Debunking Common Myths About HIV, the HRC Foundation)

You can learn more about HIV, find a testing facility, or sign up for PrEP with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago is also looking for advocates and volunteers. If you're interested in getting involved, you can get involved on their site.

AIDS Treatments Today

Treatment for HIV-AIDS has improved astronomically over the years. Not only is HIV-AIDS survivable as a long-term illness, but there are currently patients who appear to have been cured of HIV-AIDS after new treatments (The Search for a Cure, AIDS Map).

Articles About the AIDS Crisis From LGBTQIA+ Perspectives

Educational Videos About the AIDS Crisis

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus

(San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus demonstrating impact of AIDS on the choir - May 1993.  Picture: Getty)

This photograph went viral when author, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit posted it out with the caption

"The men in white are the surviving members of the Original San Francisco Gay Men's Choir. Those in black represent the members lost to AIDS. Remember this when people say the gay  community survived the epidemic. We had to start over because we lost a whole generation" (Solnit).

According to the Foundation for AIDS Research, the virus had killed more that 234,000 people in the United States by the end of 1993. The epidemic began in the early 1980s.

Remembering Our Community's Losses

The AIDS crisis was a terrible event in the history of the LGBTQIA+ community. So many lives were lost and along with them, the knowledge, art, and histories that each of those individuals had to share. 

The National AIDS Memorial has a virtual display of all 50,000 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. You can view the panels on their website.

The Quilt was originally created by Cleve Jones, a human rights activist who helped to organize the annual candlelight march honoring Harvey Milk and George Moscone, two gay activists who were assassinated in 1978. Jones' goal was to "create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS, and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease" (The History of the Quilt, National AIDS Memorial). The Quilt was displayed for the first time on October 11, 1987 on the National Mall in Washington D.C.. It was "larger than a football field and included 1,920 panels" (The History of the Quilt, National AIDS Memorial).

For more information about the AIDS Memorial Quilt, you can check out Joseph Bennington-Castro's article for the History Channel

As we remember L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ history, it's important to honor those who came before us, and the many lives that have been lost along the way.