Blazer Alum Launches ‘Pink Triangle Legacies’ Book Tour Sept. 15 at VSU

September 9, 2022
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Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Dr. W. Jake Newsome is returning to Valdosta State University to kick off a multi-city tour for his new book, Pink Triangle Legacies: Stepping Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 15, in the auditorium of the Odum Library. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History, a minor in International Studies, and a minor in German from VSU in 2009 and is currently the Civic Learning Lead for Campus Communities at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

newsome-book-cover.jpgDr. W. Jake Newsome’s book can be purchased at his upcoming book launch at Valdosta State University’s Odum Library and wherever books are sold beginning September 15.

VALDOSTA — Dr. W. Jake Newsome is returning to Valdosta State University to kick off a multi-city tour for his new book, Pink Triangle Legacies: Stepping Out in the Shadow of the Holocaustat 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 15, in the auditorium of the Odum Library.

The Newsome campus book launch includes a discussion, Q&A session, and reception, as well as a book sale and signing. This event is open to the public and presented by the Honors College at VSU, with support from the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the university’s Odum Library, Honors Student Association, Department of History, from the Department of Women and Gender Studies and Campus Pride.

“While studying the Holocaust and researching the fate of LGBTQ+ victims of the Nazis, I was horrified to learn how they were treated after the war ended,” shares Newsome, a historian audience from the LGBTQ+ past. “The Allies reincarcerated many gay concentration camp inmates, and Germany later refused to recognize LGBTQ+ people as victims and denied them any compensation. The democratic nation of West Germany used the Nazi version of the anti-gay law to arrest 100,000 gay people. When I learned all of this, I knew someone had to tell this story, to be the voice of the countless LGBTQ+ people who have been silenced and continually persecuted, decades after Hitler’s defeat.

“Learning about LGBTQ+ history gave me the courage to come out and live my authentic life. I wanted to write a book where LGBTQ+ people could see themselves in the pages. I wanted to expose the persecution being waged against our community in the past, because it’s important to know where we come from. But it was also important for me to show how resilient and powerful the LGBTQ+ community is. In the face of violence and discrimination, we persevered and continued to to love, to contribute to society and to build a life for ourselves.This is the greatest legacy of the pink triangle.

Newsome earned a Bachelor of Arts in History, a minor in International Studies, and a minor in German from VSU in 2009. After graduation, he received a full scholarship to the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he earned a Ph.D. in History in 2016 — and met her husband.

Newsome is currently the Civic Learning Lead for Campus Communities at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, where he lives with his husband and son. It is responsible for involving students across the country in the history of the Holocaust.

His book, Pink Triangle Legacies: Stepping Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust, is not affiliated with his work at the museum. Rather, it is a passion project fueled by his research and personal studies.

Newsome says he’s excited to return to his alma mater for the book launch and a walk down memory lane.

“From afar, I look forward to people,” he notes. “Several professors at VSU have shaped who I am, not only as a professional but as a person. I am the first person in my family to go to college and I am grateful that VSU gave me the opportunity developed one-on-one relationships with my professors Some became mentors and helped me navigate the academic process Encouraged me to find my voice and present at conferences Some retired and moved , including Dr. Charles Johnson, my advisor, but many are still here helping more students find meaning and success in their lives, and I can’t wait to see them again.

“On another level, I look forward to spending time on the beautiful lawn without the pressure of a homework deadline or an exam threatening me.”

Newsome’s book can be purchased at the book launch and wherever books are sold from September 15.

On the Web:
https://wjakenewsome.com/events/
https://www.valdosta.edu/colleges/honors/

Dr. W. Jake Newsome provided the following synopsis for Pink Triangle Legacies: Stepping Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust:

“Legacies of the Pink Triangle tells the dynamic and inspiring story of the original pride symbol of the LGBTQ+ community by tracing the transformation of the pink triangle from a Nazi concentration camp badge into a widespread emblem of queer liberation, pride and community. The recovery of the pink triangle first happened in West Germany, but soon activists in the United States embraced this chapter of German history as their own. As gay activists on both sides of the Atlantic grafted pink triangle memories onto new contexts, they connected two national communities and helped form the basis of a shared gay history, indeed a new gay identity, that transcended national borders.

“Americans today are engaged in fierce debates about what information students should have access to, what “appropriate” topics are, and what books should be allowed on library shelves. Legacy of the Pink Triangle illustrates the dangerous consequences of historical silence. It also shows how teaching hidden stories can contribute to a more inclusive society in the present. There can be no justice without recognizing and remembering injustice. As the book shows, if a marginalized community seeks a story that frees them from the confines of silence, they often have to write it themselves.

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