September 9, 2022
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator
Blazer Alum Launches 'Pink Triangle Legacies' Book Tour Sept. 15 at VSU
Dr. W. Jake Newsome returns to Valdosta State University to kick off a multi-city tour for his new book, Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, in Odum Library Auditorium. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History, a Minor in International Studies, and a Minor in German from VSU in 2009 and currently serves as the manager of civic learning for campus communities at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
Dr. W. Jake Newsome's book may be purchased during his upcoming book launch in Valdosta State University's Odum Library and wherever books are sold beginning Sept. 15.
VALDOSTA — Dr. W. Jake Newsome returns to Valdosta State University to kick off a multi-city tour for his new book, Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, in Odum Library Auditorium.
Newsome’s on-campus book launch features a discussion, question-and-answer session, and reception, as well as a book sale and signing. This event is open to the public and presented by VSU’s Honors College, with support from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the university’s Odum Library, Honors Student Association, Department of History, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, and Campus Pride.
“As I studied the Holocaust and researched the fate of the Nazis’ LGBTQ+ victims, I was horrified to learn about how they were treated after the war ended,” shares Newsome, a public historian of the LGBTQ+ past. “The Allies re-imprisoned many of the gay concentration camp inmates, and later, Germany refused to recognize LGBTQ+ people as victims and denied them all compensation. The democratic nation of West Germany used the Nazi version of the anti-gay law to arrest 100,000 gay men. When I learned all of this, I knew that someone needed to tell this story, to be the voice for the countless LGBTQ+ people who were silenced and continuously 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 reveal the persecution carried out against our community in the past, because it’s important to know where we come from. But, it was also important to me to showcase how the LGBTQ+ community is resilient and powerful. In the face of violence and discrimination, we have persevered and continued to love, contribute to society, and build lives for ourselves. That 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 Doctor of Philosophy in History in 2016 — and met his husband.
Newsome currently serves as the manager of civic learning for campus communities at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., where he lives with his husband and son. He is tasked with engaging college students around the country with the history of the Holocaust.
His book, Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust, is not affiliated with his work at the museum. It is more of a passion project fueled by his personal research and study.
Newsome says he is excited to return to his alma mater for the book launch and a walk down memory lane.
“Hands down, I’m most looking forward to the people,” he notes. “Several VSU faculty shaped who I am, not just as a professional but as a person. I’m the first person in my family to go to college, and I am thankful that VSU provided the opportunity for me to develop one-on-one relationships with my professors. Some became mentors and helped me navigate the college process. They encouraged me to find my voice and present at conferences. Some have retired and moved away, including Dr. Charles Johnson, my advisor, but many are still there, helping more students find meaning and success in their lives. And I’m so excited to see them again.
“On another level, I’m looking forward to spending time on the beautiful front lawn without the pressure of an assignment deadline or exam looming over me.”
Newsome’s book may be purchased at the book launch and wherever books are sold beginning Sept. 15.
Dr. W. Jake Newsome provided the following synopsis for Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust:
“Pink Triangle Legacies tells the dynamic and inspiring history of the LGBTQ+ community's original pride symbol 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 reclamation of the pink triangle occurred first in West Germany, but soon activists in the United States adopted this chapter from German history as their own. As gay activists on opposite 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, which topics are ‘appropriate,’ and which books should be allowed on library shelves. Pink Triangle Legacies illustrates the dangerous consequences of historical silencing. It also shows how the teaching of hidden histories can contribute to a more inclusive society in the present. There can be no justice without acknowledging and remembering injustice. As the book demonstrates, if a marginalized community seeks a history that liberates them from the confines of silence, they must often write it themselves.”