Today I am sharing a terrific post by Michael Bronski who explains the role HIV/AIDS played in the same-sex marriage movement in the United States: http://notchesblog.com/2016/06/14/the-curious-connections-between-marriage-equality-and-hivaids/#more-8402 As a point of interest, lesbians, who continue to lose custody of their children on the grounds that their sexual orientation makes them unfit mothers, called for changes in family law well before HIV/AIDS became an American epidemic. Only once the legal benefits marriage conferred interested … Continue reading The Gay Agenda, HIV/AIDS, and Marriage Equality
In 1965 24-year-old Ethel Sawyer completed the first known academic study of an African American lesbian community. Sawyer’s analysis of “mate stability” helped me develop an understanding of why in the 1950s and 60s gay women who rebelled against sex and gender norms participated in the most normalizing of all institutions: marriage. Although Sawyer did not hear of any such ceremonies during the two years she spent conducting … Continue reading Neither Sin Nor Civil Rights: Ethel Sawyer’s Study of a Lesbian Community
One of the best things about coming out as a lesbian in 1989 was that for the first time in my life wanting and having sex was a positive, not a negative, value. As a teenager I thoroughly enjoyed heterosexual sex, but I struggled with deeply internalized Christian values that held me a sinner of the worst kind, and was subject to the cruel and … Continue reading The “Sex” In Sexual Revolution
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
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!
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?
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”?
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