Today is National Honor your LGBTQ Elders Day, and this year, I am thinking of Leslie Feinberg and Stone Butch Blues which taught me more about the history of violence against LGBTQ people than anything else. I read that book on the BART train when I used to commute to the East Bay in San Francisco. I remember sobbing while sitting in the morning rush hour crowd and reading so long I almost missed my stop; it was so beautiful and heartbreaking and important.
When a friend came out, she mentioned something about Butch women and the L Word, and I said dude you need to know our history--Shane is not a Butch woman!--and I gave her Stone Butch Blues to read so she could understand what "Butch" really meant and why gay bars mattered so much. Upon finding the book in her bedroom, my friend’s mother tore it apart in a rage. I said, that feels fitting given what the book is about. Today both that friend and I are married and grateful to people like Leslie Feinberg for doing the hard work (and enduring the trauma of violence) so we could benefit.
Grateful to Feinberg and other queer writers for forging us a path and leading the way. May I one day write something as meaningful and important in your honor. May I one day be as brave.
Note: Stone Butch Blues is now out of print, but there are still plenty of used copies available to purchase. Feinberg also released it online before she passed, and you can read it here: http://www.lesliefeinberg.net/