Struggling with Gender in the Early 1970s: An Archival Posting in Honour of Leslie Feinberg’s Birthday

Leslie Feinberg, author of the fictional book Stone Butch Blues, showed us a side of 1960s lesbian butch culture that had not been well known: a good number of butches either transitioned, or experimented with hormones. Feinberg’s book illuminates the struggles ze and zer friends had around gender, struggles that intensified as the women’s and gay liberation movements took aim at what they called “role playing.” Since liberationists saw … Continue reading Struggling with Gender in the Early 1970s: An Archival Posting in Honour of Leslie Feinberg’s Birthday

One step forward, ten steps backward? #LoveWins #MarriageEquality

While the decision today by SCOTUS is a huge victory for lesbians and gays in the United States, it is troubling how Justice Kennedy’s decision elevates marriage to the level of the supernatural. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once … Continue reading One step forward, ten steps backward? #LoveWins #MarriageEquality

Congratulations, America!

Today the Supreme Court of the United States voted 5-4 to prohibit states from banning same-sex marriage. I have always been deeply ambivalent about the marriage equality movement because of the way it has emphasized the normalization of queer people, but if there is one thing I have learned in my research, it is that people on the ground do not necessarily buy into the … Continue reading Congratulations, America!

Husband? Wife? What’s In a Name?

Getting married and calling oneself married – are they different things, or just two sides of the same coin? My research on same-sex marriages in the 50s, 60s and 70s is driven by a desire to understand what draws people to the act of saying “I do,” so I am most interested in wedding ceremonies such as this one between Millie and Jean Carbollo in … Continue reading Husband? Wife? What’s In a Name?

Were same-sex weddings in Philadelphia a “thing”?

The last time I went on an archives trip for this project it was to the ONE institute Archives in Los Angeles where I had the good fortune of being the first to see an amazing set of photos of a wedding ceremony that took place in Philadelphia in the mid-1950s. You can read the fascinating story of how they came to be at the … Continue reading Were same-sex weddings in Philadelphia a “thing”?

Historian comments on Ireland’s Same-Sex Marriage Referendum

For years I have complained that social historians are all too rarely called upon to comment on current events. Well, I got called. Truth is they didn’t know I am a historian, so that might explain why, but I got my opportunity to offer my wise and thoughtful (!) reflections on the meaning of Ireland’s referendum. Here it is, spot the historical depth if you can! The … Continue reading Historian comments on Ireland’s Same-Sex Marriage Referendum

Sex Workers Rights at a Historic Crossroads

After spending the spring working on an online archives and teaching tool – check out the results at interracialintimacies.org soon! – I am back to working on my book on same-sex marriage in the 50s, 60s and 70s in the United States, and not a moment too soon. Out in the contemporary world, the big news in Canada on the sexual justice front is the … Continue reading Sex Workers Rights at a Historic Crossroads

The Trouble with Invoking Jim Crow to Fight for LGBT Issues

Pink Panthers Movement’s Response to the Arizona Anti-Gay Law Arizona’s new bill allowing for discrimination based on sexual orientation is rightfully attracting a lot of pushback from LGBT activists. One of the go-to arguments is that the law revives Jim Crow, the practice of segregating African Americans from whites. While there does seem to be a natural logic here, I think the LGBT movement should … Continue reading The Trouble with Invoking Jim Crow to Fight for LGBT Issues

Transnormativity debuts in Vogue?

Critics of the politics of the marriage equality movement have described it as heralding “homonormativity.” Here is a recent feature in Vogue that advances “transnormativity.” In both cases what we see is the claim for equality based on the notion that there is a lack of meaningful difference between homo and trans folk, and heterosexuals. Some of us, however, see within our difference the basis … Continue reading Transnormativity debuts in Vogue?

Activists go to jail for marriage equality

[Description: Blurred out text frames a photo of Nancy and Toby in the upper right corner the Headline: “Free Nancy Davis and Toby Schneiter Gay Marriage Now” dominating the middle.] Today, most of us in the U.S. show our support for political causes through “clicktivism”: we “like,” “share,” and retweet stories on our social media feeds. Sometimes we’ll sign an online petition. A few of us … Continue reading Activists go to jail for marriage equality