Posts tagged queer history
Posts tagged queer history
While the McCarthy Era is remembered as the time of the Red Scare, the headline-grabbing hunt for Communists in the United States, it was the Lavender Scare, a vicious and vehement purge of homosexuals, which lasted longer and ruined many more lives.
Before it was over, more than 10,000 Federal employees lost their jobs. Based on the award-winning book by historian David K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare shines a light on a chapter of American history that has never received the attention it deserves.
It examines the tactics used by the government to identify homosexuals, and takes audiences inside interrogation rooms where gay men and women were subjected to grueling questioning. These stories are told through the first-hand accounts of the people who experienced them.
The Lavender Scare shows how the government’s actions ignited an anti-gay frenzy that spread throughout the country, in an era in which The New York Times used the words “homosexual” and “pervert” interchangeably, and public service films warned that homosexuality was a dangerous, contagious disease.
While the story is at times infuriating and heartbreaking, its underlying message is uplifting and inspiring. Instead of destroying American homosexuals, the actions of the government had the opposite effect: they stirred a sense of outrage and activism that helped ignite the gay rights movement.
LGBTQ* Books To Keep On Your Radar
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers (A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America)
By Lillian Faderman
Faderman charts the evolution of the concept of the “lesbian” as a 20th-century social construct and shows how love between women, once known at the turn of the century by such terms as “romantic friendship” or “sentimental friendship,” came to be called “lesbianism.” What was once not a realistic alternative to marriage became possible as women became educated, demanded equal rights, and came out of the home and into the workforce. With increased opportunities for independence, women no longer needed men’s financial support to survive and, as a result, love between women was no longer perceived as innocently as it had been in the past. This is a much-needed book and is highly recommended for all public libraries both for its information about the perception and treatment of this particular minority group in America, as well as for its historical and sociological contribution. Its scholarly approach and content also make it a necessity for women’s studies collections.
- Patricia Sarles, Mt. Sinai Medical Ctr., New York
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc
Personal Note: Currently reading. Trust there will be many posts to come.
This book was/is so important to me. It was one of the first books I read after coming out (‘92), and having grown up in a place where gay people were not visible, it was eye-opening to say the least. I wish women everywhere could be given a copy when they come out! It’s so vital to know the long history of the women who came before us.
[K] As you might already know, I have a soft spot for Hollywood’s only major female director during its classic era: Dorothy Arzner. Her films often centered on unconventional female characters, their relationship to each other, as well as their way of dealing with the world at large. In addition to a talent for choosing intersting plots, Arzner - trained as an editor, and known for shooting one of the most spectacular scenes in Rudolp Valentino’s film career - knew a thing or two about how to make the best use of cinema’s conventions, techniques and tricks.
Hey, Handsome…. Dorothy Arzner on the set.
The above-linked interview - originally published in Cinema (U.S.) in 1974 - is up to today the by far the most comprehensive interview with this exceptional figure in film history, and now for the first time digitally available thanks to AgnesFilms.
Excerpt of Special Interest (read: to this blog. Because, come on, for film buffs the whole interview would be of special interst) to wet your appetite for more:
You were at Paramount at the same time as Marlene Dietrich and Mae West. Did you ever wish to make a movie with either of them?
Yes, I always wanted to make a picture with Marlene. There was a wonderful script called Stepdaughters of War. … It was to be a big antiwar picture showing the tragedies of war and how war makes women hard and masculine.
OMG - Imagine the awesomeness of Dorothy Arzner working with Marlene Dietrich! Knowing what Arzner did with Katharine Hepburn in Christopher Strong, I’m inclined to believe, this collaboration could have been among my all-time favorite films.
Don’t you hate it, when history gets in the way of your taste in films?
Anyway, enjoy the interview!
THE HOWDY CLUB
A lesbian bar on 3rd Street in the Village.
Club was open from the 1930s-1940s.
(Above picture - Howdy Club’s football team, circa 1940)
Why LGBT History Is Important by David Mixner
An enormous amount of energy went into Governor Jerry Brown’s office in California surrounding legislation insisting that the LGBT community’s struggle and history be included in text books and class room discussion. Happily, it was announced late Thursday that Brown had signed the FAIR Education Act (SB 48, Leno) into law. Congratulations to all involved in this great success, especially Senator Mark Leno, who authored the bill, and Governor Brown whose signature made the bill a reality.
A friend of mine today said he didn’t understand why it was so important and shouldn’t we just be included with everyone else. Well, he is right on the second point, we absolutely should be included with everyone else in the text books. And as to his first point, nothing could be more important.
There are many ways to kill people and one of the ways is to pretend that they never existed at all. Remove all traces of their journey and hope no one discovers their story. Often the issue of self-esteem among young LGBT citizens stems from the fact that they think our common denominator is just sexually based. They have no idea of their noble, proud and heroic traditions and actions of their pioneers.
LGBT history is filled with dramatic courage, dignity and determination and innovative and extraordinary leaders.
Unlike other communities that have struggled to preserve and create awareness about their history, we have seen systematic attempts to destroy and distort our journey. When we lost so many of our storytellers from AIDS, their surviving family members usually destroyed any trace that their family member was a LGBT citizen or had AIDS. Tens of thousands of stories of courage and heroism were lost. Boxes upon boxes of historical documents were burned. The shame of the families about their LGBT son or daughter made it even more difficult to keep our history intact.
In addition, we have organized groups now attempting to quash any positive role models, stories or epic struggles by this community. Some have linked us to Nazis and others insist we are nothing but pedophiles. Any positive portrayal of a community whose history is rich and full would threaten those lies.
If you feel like you have come out of nothing then you might feel you are nothing. If you think only sex is the basis of our journey then you will miss the remarkable stories that define this community as one of heroes, heroines and a very proud people.
California will become the first state to require public schools to teach gay and lesbian history.
The wedding of Violet Jones and Joan Lee, 5 September 1954.
‘A girl ‘bridegroom’ who married another girl at a white wedding in church was fined £25 yesterday. So was her ‘bride’. The ‘bridegroom,’ 26 year old Violet Ellen Katherine Jones and the ‘bride’ 21 year old Joan Mary Lee, of Ardgowan-road, Catford, S.E both admitted making a false statement to get a marriage certificate. Violet Jones wore man’s clothes- a fawn raincoat and trousers- in the court at Greenwich.
A Lesbian History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Women Since 1500
By Rebecca Jennings
AMAZING!! Also: can’t wait to get my hands on the Jennings book.
Gay rights demonstration, Albany, New York, 1971. Photo by Diana Davies.
[K] …. there was The Ladder:
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, shared a life together for over 50 years and were married in San Francisco in 2008. Del passed away a few months later. You can read more about them by clicking here.
Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, born on this date in 1907.
I downloaded this movie a few weeks back and am just starting to watch it now.
The following are two of the plot summaries on IMDb for “Word Is Out”:
More than two dozen men and women of various backgrounds, ages, and races talk to the camera about being gay or lesbian. Their stories are arranged in loose chronology: early years, fitting in (which for some meant marriage), coming out, establishing adult identities, and reflecting on how things have changed and how things should be. Some speak as couples and some as individuals. One lost her children in a custody decision, one was dishonorably discharged from the US Army, two were sent to insane asylums. Each sees social progress as he or she looks back; all are reflective. News footage and a few vocal performances provide breaks as topics shift.
Twenty-six American homosexuals of various ages and backgrounds are interviewed, they who speak candidly about their sexual orientation in this era just a few years after the initial gay liberation at Stonewall. They speak of when they first knew of their sexual orientation and what that actually meant to them during a time when there were few open outlets or supports for homosexuals in American society. Some speak of the added pressures if the acknowledgment of being a homosexual was during one’s growing up period, when there are enough pressures from growing up in and of itself. They also speak of the period of coming out - for some, this process being involuntary - with many who were treated as having a mental disorder and the resulting fear or anger associated with the treatment. Into their out period, they needed to figure out where in society they fit, whether it be in relation to their partner, to friends or society in general. To each individual or group, these roles could be totally different. They speculate on their future as homosexuals based on their experiences and the state of homosexual acceptance in American society.
new york gay pride, 1972
A time capsule was unearthed that had been buried at the first part of the 20th century. Among all the items found was a book. One of the pages read, “Let it be known that I was a lover of my own sex.”
It was signed by the FIRST WOMAN to be admitted to the California bar and permitted to practice law in the state.
(documented from the book: OUT IN ALL DIRECTIONS)
I’m in love.
Girl With Cigarette (1925), one of Agnes Goodsir’s most famous paintings, depicts her “constant companion,” Rachel Dunn.
Goodsir was born on June 18th, 1864 in the city of Portland, in Australia. After World War I, she traveled to Europe, where she took part in the Parisian lesbian scene of the 1920s and ’30s and became known as a talented portrait painter. She died in 1939, leaving all of her paintings to Dunn.
Ooooh, I love this. Must have a print!