This week I talked with Dr. Gayle E. Pitman about her new children’s book entitled When You Look Out the Window: How Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin Built a Community. Published by Magination Press, which is the children’s book imprint of the American Psychological Association, the book is about the pioneering lesbian activists Lyon and Martin and is written for children ages 4 to 8 with beautiful illustrations by Christopher Lyles. When You Look Out the Window depicts Phyllis and Del pointing out landmarks throughout the city of San Francisco from the panoramic view from the window of their home. Each landmark tells a piece of the story of one of San Francisco’s most legendary couples and how their work for LGBT rights transformed their community and sending ripple effects around the world. As we approach LGBT History Month this October it is important for parents, caregivers and educators to provide information about our LGBTQ community’s history whose stories are far too often neglected or ignored. I talked to Dr. Pitman about her inspiration for writing When You Look Out the Window: How Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin Built a Community and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.
When asked how she sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Pitman stated,
I think Trump’s election was really a wake up call because I think for a lot of folks it was really easy to rest on our laurels and say ‘You know it’s so much better than it was. We’ve achieved marriage equality; we’ve achieved some transgender rights; we’ve got more visibility than ever. We have TV shows and movies all over the place, like life is pretty good. We have medications that help treat HIV that weren’t available a couple of decades ago’. I think it was really easy to just kind of sit back and say okay like we’re good you know like we’re in an okay place. I think that the election that took place last November really makes clear that no we can’t afford to stop. We can’t afford to rest because we can maybe delude ourselves into thinking there’s widespread universal acceptance of LGBTQ class people but I think what the Trump administration has done is embolden people to come out of the closet and further oppress people in a much more visible way. This may sound a little twisted but I think for our community that’s really an opportunity. An opportunity to see the writing on the wall and to say okay I can’t afford to be silent. I have to get involved, I need to say my peace or become active in some way, shape or form whatever way people can. I think there’s a variety of ways people can get involved in working toward social justice.
Dr. Gayle E. Pitman teaches Psychology and Women/Gender Studies at Sacramento City College. Her teaching and writing focuses on gender and sexual orientation and she has worked extensively with our LGBTQ community. By night she writes children’s books and engages in other forms of rebellious creativity. Her debut picture book This Day in June won the 2015 ALA Stonewall Award and won the IRA’s 2014 Notable Books for a Global Society Award.