US Queer History 101
August 4, 2019 1:33 PM   Subscribe

I have a smart and empathetic friend who, due to upbringing, is largely ignorant about queer history in the US. She just learned about the Stonewall riots a few weeks ago, and now that's she's started to learn, she wants more, and is asking for resources. Her request is specifically for history, but I'm happy to share some general classic texts, too, as those are part of the history. Any suggestions? All types of media are on the table.
posted by rhiannonstone to Education (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Queer: A Graphic History
The Gay Revolution by Lillian Faderman
posted by matildaben at 1:43 PM on August 4

A couple documentary recs:
- Paris Is Burning - iconic overview of the 1980s ballroom culture of NYC & examines a variety of intersections of identity (features multiple LGBT BIPOC)
- The Times of Harvey Milk (trailer) - about the first openly gay elected official in the history of California
posted by rather be jorting at 1:54 PM on August 4

The lgbt history account on Instagram is great:

Also check out the podcast “making gay history”
posted by hungrytiger at 2:10 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]

Gay New York by George Chauncey is an amazing history of queer life in New York mostly pre-WW2, though it is more of an academic history book. So much of the book is from primary sources, and it makes a real point to include a focus on gay life for working class people. I think this was included in most of the queer history classes at my college.
posted by forkisbetter at 3:10 PM on August 4

Jackson Bird has a couple videos, but he lists the books in the descriptions. Mostly trans history:

What I'm Ready for Pride (2019)

Ultimate Trans Book Rec List

They're Banning Queer Books!
posted by MuChao at 3:44 PM on August 4

Another vote for the Making Gay History podcast.
posted by bookmammal at 3:53 PM on August 4

Susan Stryker's bookTransgender History is comprehensive, quick to read, and ties together a lot of threads you'll be coming across elsewhere.
posted by odinsdream at 5:21 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]

Definitely Paris is Burning mentioned above, which is also currently on Netflix.

Graham Robb's Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century.
posted by jameaterblues at 5:37 PM on August 4

In addition to Making Gay History (which is a book as well as a podcast, but I haven't read the book yet), two other podcasts to check out are Morgan M. Page's One from the Vaults on trans history, and Queer as Fact, which is a great queer history podcast by a group of delightful Australian historians.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:25 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

If she's willing to read a more academic-style treatment, this one is outstanding:
The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America
"[Margot] Canaday looks at three key arenas of government control--immigration, the military, and welfare--and demonstrates how federal enforcement of sexual norms emerged with the rise of the modern bureaucratic state. She begins at the turn of the twentieth century when the state first stumbled upon evidence of sex and gender nonconformity, revealing how homosexuality was policed indirectly through the exclusion of sexually "degenerate" immigrants and other regulatory measures aimed at combating poverty, violence, and vice. Canaday argues that the state's gradual awareness of homosexuality intensified during the later New Deal and through the postwar period as policies were enacted that explicitly used homosexuality to define who could enter the country, serve in the military, and collect state benefits. Midcentury repression was not a sudden response to newly visible gay subcultures, Canaday demonstrates, but the culmination of a much longer and slower process of state-building during which the state came to know and to care about homosexuality across many decades."
posted by Weftage at 5:36 AM on August 5

So these are more 201 than 101, but none of them actually require previous knowledge. They are both more on the radical tip, if that is something your friend likes.

Queer (In)justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States
by Joey Mogul, Andrea Ritchie, Kay Whitlock
A groundbreaking work that turns a “queer eye” on the criminal legal system, Queer (In)Justice is a searing examination of queer experiences as “suspects,” defendants, prisoners, and survivors of crime. The authors unpack queer criminal archetypes like “gleeful gay killers,” “lethal lesbians,” “disease spreaders,” and “deceptive gender benders ” to illustrate the punishment of queer expression, regardless of whether a crime was ever committed. Tracing stories from the streets to the bench to behind prison bars, they prove that the policing of sex and gender both bolsters and reinforces racial and gender inequalities.
This title is harsh, but I just read Martin Duberman's Has the Gay Movement Failed? and it's an amazing history of the Gay Liberation Front and early queer activism, in addition to a critique of the abandonment of the transformation of American social/legal institutions in favor of gaining equal rights / equal access to American social/legal institutions. Duberman was part of the Gay Liberation Front, so this is front seat history.
For example: In the summer of 1970, a week after the murders at Kent State and the onset of bombing in Cambodia, a contingent of gay radicals invaded the national convention of the American Psychiatric Association (APA)... The radical contingent at the APA also heard Dr. Irving Bieber, professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College and a leading expert on homosexual “neurosis,” once again recite his well-known theory of how a particular family culture produced male homosexuals: “Mothers of homosexuals are usually inadequate wives. They tend to dominate and minimize their husbands and frequently hold them more or less openly in contempt”—with the unhappy result that male offspring fail to identify with an appropriate male role model. Bieber’s fellow expert, Dr. Charles Socarides, also gave a talk; he stressed that homosexuality was an emotional illness fraught with guilt and anxiety. That led Chicago’s GLF to pass out a leaflet to the doctors in attendance asking if Socarides would “also consider Judaism an emotional illness because of the paranoia which Jews experienced in Nazi Germany?”

When Dr. Nathaniel McConaghy of Australia began describing his success in giving homosexual male patients injections of apomorphine and then, while suffering from nausea, showing them slides of attractive males, the GLF attendees erupted. Joined by a group of some twenty feminists, GLF members jumped up from their seats in the auditorium with shouts of “Torture!” “Get Your Rocks Off That Way?!” and so forth. The disruption gave a number of psychiatrists pause, and it was only three years later that the APA voted, in a historic referendum, to drop homosexuality from the category of mental illness.
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:17 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Randy Shilts' books.
posted by brujita at 12:13 PM on August 5

I remember thinking the now-ancient PBS documentary Out of the Past was highly informative and revealing for me as a young queer person studying history in college. It's a focus on the lives and impacts of queer individuals from American history pre-Stonewall, dating back hundreds of years, mixed with a (then) contemporary story about a GSA getting banned at a high school.
posted by zeusianfog at 4:17 PM on August 5

Totally forgot that Making Gay History is also a book by Eric Marcus. It’s really good. I read it before I listened to the podcast and it’s a very nice accompaniment —the podcast has interviews and additional info about many of the folks in the book.
posted by bookmammal at 5:48 AM on August 6

« Older Books With Short Unrelated Chapters?   |   Most valuable post-earthquake lessons? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments