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Job | Assistant Professor of History, UCLA | Deadline November 1

BY ON August 30, 2017

The UCLA Department of History expects to make an appointment for a tenure track position in the history of gender and sexuality, open to any field. Appointment will be at the rank of assistant professor and begin on July 1, 2018. All candidates should have completed their PhD, in history or related field, no later than June 30, 2018.

The deadline for receiving applications and required documents is November 1, 2017. Applications will be reviewed immediately thereafter.

The department welcomes candidates whose experience in teaching, research or community service has prepared them to contribute to our commitment to diversity and excellence. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply online for this position. Documents should include a letter of application, curriculum vitae, writing sample, sample syllabi and three letters of recommendation. This position is subject to final administrative approval.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see: UC Nondiscrimination & Affirmative Action Policy.

Questions may be addressed to: Ann Major at ann@history.ucla.edu.

Look to the Past: Our Military Grows With Inclusion

BY ON August 28, 2017

In this post, historian Beth Wolny explores US military integration in the wake of trans service ban.

She is introduced by Eric Gonzaba. 

A few weeks ago, President Trump announced his intention to ban transgender people from United States military service. This move reverses the Obama Defense Department’s policy push to allow transgender people to serve openly. Since the sudden announcement, I’ve been happy to read some incredible response pieces on trans military service, including Landon Marchant for the Point Foundation and two great stories from OutHistory.

To make even more sense of this nonsensical action, I reached out to a historian friend of mine who graciously offered some different historical perspective. Lt Col.

Beth Wolny not only has an insanely impressive title I’ll never hold, but she is also a doctoral candidate in the history department at George Mason University specializing in military women’s history. She recently published “Female Marines Guard the Embassies: An Experiment in Social Progress and Cultural Change” in the International Journal of Naval History.

Beth is not an LGBT historian (sigh…), but her research on military integration and her own military service offers a great perspective on military and civilian politics regarding transgender ban.

Our Military Grows With Inclusion

By Beth Wolny

The military rarely, if ever, accepts change easily. The service protested against racial integration, gender integration and homosexual individuals serving openly. In each instance, senior leaders argued changes were unnecessary; that they would threaten cohesion and morale (and thus, it was assumed, combat effectiveness). In sum, it wasn’t worth it. But what is “it”, exactly? When President Trump tweeted that he has consulted with his “admirals and generals” and decided that transgender individuals cannot serve “in any capacity”, he acceded to the military’s desires but not necessarily to the nation’s best interests or even its military’s combat effectiveness.

During and after World War II, the services fought having African Americans in the ranks. U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Thomas Holcomb stated that given the choice between 5,000 white Marines or 250,000 black Marines, “I would rather have the whites.”[1] Despite the need for additional manpower, General Holcomb would have preferred to risk combat lethality than to accept African Americans. The U.S. Navy made African Americans cooks. The U.S. Army created separate ranks, away from the fighting, for African Americans. Yet how combat effective would the U.S. military have been in that war without its African Americans?

Women have faced similar challenges. Marginalized as mostly secretaries until the mid-1970s, women fought for equal pay, recognition and treatment at each step. In 1979, Marine Corps Commandant Robert Barrow stated,

The simple facts are we don’t need them. We can get all the males to do whatever needs to be done . . . so why experiment . . . because someone can make a boast or a claim that you have broadened the opportunity for women.[2]

General Barrow is speaking directly to the military’s constant concern – that politicians may prioritize inclusion to the detriment of combat effectiveness. When a traditional culture – such as the military – experiences any kind of cultural change, there will be pain. There may be violence. It may take a generation for cultural changes to solidify. Then there is growth and actually – a more combat effective military. Women’s roles in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially as Lionesses and as Female Engagement Team (FET) members, demonstrate how much our military benefits from the inclusion of all. Or do we currently not have the most powerful and lethal military in the world?

Almost a generation ago, Congress passed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), which permitted homosexual members to serve, but in secret. The military moved forward under the auspices that if no one knew the sexual orientation of the other person in the fighting hole, then it did not matter. Did it really matter at all? Or did what matter was whether or not a person could do the job?

The repeal of DADT proved what the military had already learned through racial and gender integration. The most important aspect of any individual serving in any capacity in the armed forces of the United States is whether or not they can do the job – and that means whether or not service members trust that each member of the team is able to do the job. Cohesion and morale grow when individuals trust each other, through tests of capability and endurance. This is task cohesion, and this is what really matters to combat effectiveness. Military leaders more often worry about social cohesion – whether or not members of a group get along or like each other – and assume that social cohesion is necessary for task cohesion.

Marine Corps Commandant Amos went on record about the threats to cohesion and morale, DADT and combat effectiveness. In December 2010 he stated that on the battlefield, “you don’t want anything distracting. . . . Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines’ lives.”[3] Today, service members of any sexual orientation are serving openly and with acceptance. The concerns over “distractions” and cohesion proved unfounded.

All of these concerns are the real reasons behind the reluctance to admit openly serving transgender service members – the desire for the known versus the new; the concern over politicians prioritizing inclusion over combat effectiveness and threats to cohesion and morale (and thus combat effectiveness). While these concerns will certainly require strong departmental policies, solid guidance and strong leadership to implement those policies, they are not reasons to restrict transgender members. Our military grows with inclusion. The integration of transgender individuals will proceed along similar lines to every other instance of integration. The process will be difficult. There may be protest. There may be violence. It may require a generation. Let’s hope it doesn’t, because in the end, it will be worth “it” because it will result in a stronger, more combat effective military.

[1] Nalty, Bernard G., “The Right to Fight: African-American Marines in World War II”, Marines in WWII Commemorative Series, Marine Corps History and Museums Division, https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/npswapa/extcontent/usmc/pcn-190-003132-00/sec1.htm, accessed 7 August 2017.
[2] Robert General Barrow, Session XV, Transcript, December 20, 1991, 8, Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.
[3] Whitlock, Craig. “Marine general suggests repeal of ‘don’t ask’ could result in casualties”, The Washington Post, 15 December 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/14/AR2010121404985.html, accessed 8 August 2017.

In the Archives | Running for Office

BY ON August 21, 2017

Since Trump’s election, protest has become a way of life for many in the U.S.  A week doesn’t pass without a flood of emails and posts on social media announcing the next march or rally in cities across the country.  But his election also puts front and center the question of how electoral politics needs to figure among the playlist of strategies and tactics that movement activists for social and economic justice deploy.  As Bayard Rustin argued in a 1965 appeal to activists in the black freedom struggle, ultimate success requires engagement with the electoral system.

For identity-based movements, one form that electoral involvement takes is running for public office.  The first explicit LGBT electoral campaign that I’m aware of was in 1961 in San Francisco, when Jose Sarria, a well-known and well-loved drag performer at one of the city’s popular bars, ran for the Board of Supervisors in response to intense police harassment of LGBT people.  But Sarria’s campaign was an isolated one-of-a-kind effort.  Not until the rise of a gay and lesbian liberation movement in the 1970s did running for office become one of the recognized forms of movement activism. Yet, even then, it was still relatively uncommon.

Gary Nepon was the first “out” LGBT candidate to run in Chicago for public office. His papers at the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives provide a view of how complex the relationship between a movement and electoral politics can be.  In the fall of 1977, Nepon began putting a campaign together to win a place on the ballot as a candidate for the Illinois state assembly from the 13th district on Chicago’s northside lakefront.  The district was already in the process of becoming identified as a center of LGBT (or “gay,” as the press referred to it then) life in Chicago.

Interestingly, though there had been a continuous history of organized LGBT activism in Chicago at least since the mid-1960s, Nepon was completely unknown among movement participants.  As he admitted to the press in the first round of interviews after he announced his candidacy in October, “I am not a gay activist.” But Anita Bryant’s successful campaign to repeal a gay rights law in Dade County, Florida a few months earlier “hit me like a brick,” according to his Statement of Candidacy.  Nepon felt he could no longer remain silent about gay issues, and so he decided to run for public office.  He made clear that he was not a “single-issue” candidate.  He stood for full access to abortion, including state funding for low-income women; no-fault divorce law; increased funding of public schools; and an expansion of state-supported children and family services.  But his identity as a gay man was something that he was choosing to wear openly and proudly, even if he was not emphasizing LGBT issues in the campaign.

One might assume that the LGBT community in Chicago would have jumped at the chance to rally behind one of its own.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Nepon received virtually no endorsements of consequence from the LGBT community.  Chuck Renslow, a gay entrepreneur and activist who was a precinct captain on the northside, did not support him.  Gay Life, the main community newspaper, did not endorse him.  In the view of Grant Ford, its publisher and editor, “the incumbents are our friends.”  Nepon was running against incumbents [note: at this time, Illinois had districts that elected multiple candidates to the assembly] who had already shown their support for the community, according to Ford. He was wrong in assuming, as Renslow expressed it, that “the community will vote for him just because he’s gay.”  When the votes were counted, Ford and Renslow were proven right.  Nepon placed a distant last among the four candidates and, post-primary, was never heard from again in the world of Chicago LGBT activism.

So, what should we make of all this?  Was his candidacy of no consequence?  Was it nothing but a quirky oddity, a momentary distraction from the growing movement activism of the 1970s?  The materials in the Nepon papers suggest otherwise.

What the campaign unquestionably produced was a level of press attention in Chicago that the LGBT movement did not yet commonly receive.  The mainstream press seemed fascinated by Chicago’s “first avowed gay candidate,” as more than one newspaper described him.  When San Francisco’s Harvey Milk, perhaps the LGBT political celebrity of the era, came to Chicago in a show of support for Nepon, it provided another excuse for journalists to report on what was otherwise a lackluster campaign.  The Chicago Reader, a politically progressive weekly that was widely read, started their article about him, which ran for several pages, on its front cover.  The headline read “Is Nepon the Great Gay Hope of Chicago?”

As it turned out, he wasn’t.  But The Reader closed with a comment that does capture one way in which this was an important moment.  “If the Nepon candidacy accomplishes nothing else, it has, for the movement at least, produced a new political phenomenon in Chicago:  political candidates battling with each other to be the biggest friend of the gay community.”  Sometimes, even a defeat can be a victory.

Call for Papers | Change Over Time

BY ON August 8, 2017

The journal Change Over Time: An International Journal of Conservation and the Built Environment, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, invites submissions for the Spring 2019 issue.

LGBTQ Heritage | Guest Editor: Ken Lustbader

In spite of the immense historic and cultural contributions of LGBTQ Americans, the LGBTQ community at large is among the least represented in our national, state, and local designation programs. To date, only eleven of the more than 92,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places have been listed for their primary association with LGBTQ history. This underrepresentation has prevented effective advocacy and educational opportunities, leaving potentially significant sites and histories unappreciated, uncelebrated, and potentially endangered.

Over the past five years there has been growing recognition of the importance of LGBTQ place-based history by cultural heritage professionals, historians, and advocates. Place-based heritage provides a unique opportunity to illustrate the richness of LGBTQ history and the community’s contributions to American culture. Examples include historic sites associated with arts and architecture, important social centers such as bars and LGBTQ organization locations, places related to oppression and protest, and residences of notable figures.

This issue, published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, will explore questions related to LGBTQ cultural heritage: What are the challenges in identifying an often invisible and, at times, transient and denied history? How can historians and preservationists ensure for diverse representation of LGBTQ communities? How does one address significance and architectural integrity when recognizing LGBTQ sites that are often architecturally undistinguished and frequently altered?

We welcome contributions from US and international contexts on a range of topics: researching and documenting LGBTQ place-based sites; exploring rural, urban, and suburban LGBTQ narratives; approaches for categorization of resource types and cultural significance; challenges related to official recognition of LGBTQ-related sites; and solutions for interpretation and educational opportunities.

Submissions may include case studies, theoretical explorations, evaluations of current practices, or presentations of arts- or web-based projects related to LGBTQ cultural heritage.

Abstracts of 200-300 words are due 5 January 2018. Authors will be notified of provisional paper acceptance by 19 January 2018. Final manuscript submissions will be due mid May 2018.


Articles are generally restricted to 7,500 or fewer words (the approximate equivalent to thirty pages of double-spaced, twelve-point type) and may include up to ten images. See Author Guidelines for full details at cotjournal.com, or email Senior Associate Editor, Kecia Fong at cot@design.upenn.edu for further information.

Job | Virginia Commonwealth University | Deadline 2017.11.01

BY ON August 8, 2017

The Department of History at Virginia Commonwealth University invites applications for a tenure-eligible assistant professor position in Modern LGBTQ history, with a preferred specialization in oral history. This position is one of three tenure-eligible searches in LGBTQ Studies taking place in a range of disciplinary settings during the academic year 2017-18 as a major hiring initiative in the College of Humanities and Sciences to strengthen LGBTQ scholarship and course offerings at VCU. These three new hires will work alongside other faculty with expertise in LGBTQ topics across the College and the University to expand VCU’s LGBTQ-related curriculum, research profile, and community engagement efforts. The successful candidate must have proof that all requirements for Ph.D. are complete prior to August 1, 2018, will have a clearly defined research agenda, and will demonstrate potential for scholarship and teaching that complements and expands existing expertise in the department. The successful candidate will demonstrate experience working in and fostering a diverse faculty, staff, and student environment, or show a commitment to do so as a faculty member at VCU.


Trans Vets on the Trans Ban

BY ON August 1, 2017

This post contains the stories of two trans veterans, James MacGregor Halleman and Marilu Fanning, and is introduced by historian Anne Balay. 

Since President Trump issued his tweet banning trans Americans from service, countless personal stories have surfaced about who this will effect, and how. Many have pointed out that trans people volunteer disproportionately for military service, and that this has always been true. Long before trans was a category, gender nonconformists and sexual outlaws of all kinds worked as soldiers.

What doesn’t get enough attention in these stories is that military service is work, and that access to enlistment, and service once conscripted, are labor rights issues. What follow are two accounts, one from a former steelworker and one from a former truck driver. Each demonstrates that Trump’s gratuitous rant serves not to limit trans people’s access to military service, but rather to make education, employment, and daily life harder for trans-identified folks. Given what we know about how many queer and trans youth lack financial support from families, and how few protections there are for trans and queer workers, Trump’s apparently casual words cause real and immediate harm.

–Anne Balay

By James MacGregor Halleman

In December of 1989 I decided dropping out of college was a mistake.  Most of my adult life society viewed me as a very out butch lesbian; however, I always knew that I was male, and I decided to join the U.S. Army.  The biggest incentive for joining the military was the Government Issued bonus for college called the G.I. Bill.  The military entrance paper work had a question on DD form 1966/3 36 C. Character and Social Adjustment: Are you a homosexual or bisexual (“Homosexual is defined as sexual desire or behavior directed at a person(s) of one’s own sex. Bisexual is defined as a person responsive to both sexes.”) Well, what do you do when you’ve known your whole life you are really male not female? How does a person truly and honestly answer question C? I served in the Air Defense Artillery in Fort Bliss, Texas.

The military environment was hostile to “out” service members.  I watched Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer’s legal battle to remain active and serve a country where she became a citizen.  I was happy when she was permitted to keep serving. However, I knew enlisted personnel would not have such an easy path to continue serving.  I cannot personally say whether hostile military experiences decreased during President Bill Clinton’s military policy of don’t ask don’t tell don’t harass don’t pursue. I was not serving when President Clinton switched to that policy. Nonetheless, I welcomed it.

I watched and celebrated but felt left behind when President Obama’s policy allowed our Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual brothers and sisters allowed them to serve our country.  A part of me was still upset for being left behind as a Transgender man, and still not being allowed to serve my country openly, and honorably.  As a transgender man some jobs and all colleges require me to show proof of registering for Selective Service. One example is the postal service. Since I transitioned over the age of 26 I cannot register, therefore I am asked by organizations or potential employers why I am not registered.  I then have to present a letter and each potential employer or organization is allowed to make their own determination.  This outs me again.

Colleges have R.O.T.C. programs, which provide money to pay toward tuition and textbooks. President Trump announced on July 26, 2017, that Transgender service members will be banned from serving.  This most likely will have a devastating impact on Transgender college students who potentially want to serve, and earn money to pay toward college. This decision impacts Transgender students from receiving benefits from the G.I. Bill.

When I graduated last May the military brass was still undecided about accepting transgender recruits. In July 2017 military leaders requested six more months to decide policies for new Transgender recruits.  I am under the impression there would be other Transgender people willing to return to the military service members who may have been oppressed by Don’t ask Don’t tell. I wanted to return to service with my graduate degrees, and serve in the National Guard.  I even started the process by contacting House of Congress representative to discuss returning to military service.  Those plans seem very bleak at this point.

The President may not have done anything real with his “ban” tweet, but nevertheless he made it harder for me and other transpeople to get educated, get hired, and serve.

By Marilu Fanning

I am a transgender woman. I have been transgender all of my life. I tried, for much of my life, to deny who I was and lead the life that I was expected to live. That included, like many of my Trans-sisters, a stint in the military. I am old enough to have had my time in the military be a product of the draft system during the Vietnam War.  However, it was not.  I volunteered to serve in the US Navy. Unlike the current President who was happy to buy himself deferment after deferment, I served proudly and was discharged honorably.  A lot has changed since then. The Research has been done, and we (transgender people) are no longer relegated to the ranks of the totally misunderstood. The majority of our fellow citizens have been open to the advances in the understanding of who and what being transgender really means. Apparently, this current President is not.

At the beginning of the campaign I supported Trump on the Republican side and Bernie on the Democratic side. Neither was paid for by establishment money. I liked the idea of their independence from being bought and paid for. But Trump really showed that he wasn’t worthy during the campaign. Still, I thought that Trump would actually be friendly to us considering the part of society that he has always been a part of. He’s not all conventional and he likes to have fun, right?

Instead, I see his utter abandonment of the campaign promises that he made to protect the LGBTQ community to be an example of just how petty, vindictive and vengeful he is. If you dare to defy or disagree or criticize him, he will come down on you with all of the vengeful hate and fury that is the currency of all tyrants. These are the not the actions of a President of All of the American people. They are certainly not the actions of a great leader and protector of our Freedom. They are the actions of a very dangerous kind of despot that history has shown us to have the potential for the destruction of us all. It is time to stop the petty Partisan Bickering. Democrats and Republicans alike must unite as Americans, and together we must put a stop to this dangerous threat to all of our Freedom.

While I started out as a Trump supporter, I became disillusioned with him about half way through the campaign. He has proven to be more dangerous than I ever could have imagined. The transban is not policy just yet and hopefully it will not become policy, but his pandering to the religious right by handing them our heads on a platter has made him dangerous in a very real way. Real peoples’ lives will be ruined, assholes will think they have a license to hunt transgender people, and real people will die because of his ego, and the deaths won’t all be LGBTQ. We have second amendment rights as well and a lot more of us are arming ourselves.


Grappling With Carson McCullers: 100 Years

BY ON July 20, 2017

This essay, and the short fiction with which it ends, was presented at the Carson McCullers Centenary in Rome on July 16, 2017. 

It was a green and crazy summer.

Carson McCullers is one of those singular artists who inspires us over time, and yet is impossible to imitate. Much of the worst of American literature has been created by multi-generations of inadequate Hemingway impersonators. But no one tries to imitate McCullers. One of the many things about her that I try to understand is why, unlike Elvis, she is impossible to imitate and how at the same time she is able to influence us.

“Carson had a male identity, and if she lived today I believe she would be on the continuum of what we call `trans.’”

Lets start with the opening words of Member of The Wedding: It was a green and crazy summer… On a superficial reading it might remind us of “It was a dark and stormy night” but actually the phrase works in very unusual ways. Dark and Stormy are both on the same plain. We are separate from the night: looking out at it from inside a shelter, or we are surrounded on the deck of a ship, but dark and stormy are evoking the same state of experience. On the other hand green and crazy are two entirely different spheres of perception, because green is a visual and crazy is interior: a state of mind, an evaluation as well as a feeling. So, Carson manages, within the frame of seven simple, almost minimalist, words, to evoke multi-dimensions of interiority and exteriority: emotion and perception. In this way, she is a master of the American thought sentence. And that is why we cannot imitate her.

So, how is it that she influences us?

I was re-reading the beautiful anthology that Carlos Dews edited for the Library of America, and went back to her short story “Court In The West Eighties” – written in 1935 at the age of 18, when she left her Columbus, Georgia home to study writing at Columbia University. This was her second pilgrimage to New York Earlier she had come to Julliard to study classical piano, but something happened and she ended up giving all her money to a prostitute and had to return. This time, more familiar with the ways of the City, she looks out her apartment window at the neighbors on the other side of the courtyard, who she will never meet or know. Particularly, interesting is one man, with red hair, who has a drink at the window after work. She, the narrator, is reading Karl Marx, and that enhances her understanding of the people with whom she shares this quiet knowledge.

“I felt that this man across from me understood the cellist and everyone else in the court as well. I had a feeling that nothing would surprise him and that he understood more than most people.”

I had a feeling says this young woman for whom thoughts, ideas, and insights would always be feelings.

Most of the story involves descriptions of her feelings about her neighbors until suddenly, a very surprising thing occurs. The narrator tells us, her readers, that she thought about sharing this information by letter with a friend back home but that the description would be “too hard” to write. Wait a minute! Didn’t she already write it to us? Isn’t that what we have been reading, her description? And then it sinks in. She does not consider us to be readers, she does not consider us to be separate human beings, suddenly it becomes clear that the reader is in fact part of her, and is living inside her mind. That the page is actually her feeling, and we are in her consciousness, and the story becomes more intimate than even a whisper on a pillow.

This is what influences us: McCullers’ vulnerability, the total openness, the invitation to know all that she has to know. This is what makes us inspired.

It certainly worked for me.

In 1999 I had a workshop of a new play called “The Child” (that later became a novel) and I mentioned to the young lead actress, Angelina Phillips,

“You know, you look like Carson McCullers.”

And she said: “Who’s that?”


In the Archives | A Lesbian Community Center in Chicago

BY ON July 14, 2017

Sometimes an archival collection can be the centerpiece of a research project. The papers of an individual will serve as the heart of a biography. The history of a key activist group can be reconstructed through the records of an organization. Major events or projects, such as a March on Washington or the Names Project Quilt, can be brought to life through the materials in a core set of papers.

More often, an archival collection is likely to be but one element in a larger, more ambitious project. Such was my reaction to exploring the materials in the papers of the Lesbian Community Center that are on deposit at the Gerber/Hart Library in Chicago. A two-box collection, it covers the period from 1980-83.

“Community Centers” have become a staple of LGBT life in larger cities. Today, they typically have paid staff and a large board of directors. They have a significant donor base and apply for government funds and foundation grants. They provide a range of services to youth, elders, and other groups within the LGBT population. The Centers serve as a dependable meeting place for other community organizations and they are a site for major community events. They may be located in buildings with a large array of offices and meeting spaces. They may have budgets in the millions of dollars, and they are likely to be open during the day and the evening, and during the week and on weekends.

Needless to say, this wasn’t always so. Chicago’s earliest community center, created by the Chicago Gay Alliance in 1971, occupied rental space in a house. The organization brought a lot of enthusiasm to the project, but with few financial resources and dependent entirely on volunteer labor, the Center barely lasted a handful of years before it had to close its doors.

Most of these early efforts at establishing community centers were dominated by men, not only numerically, but also in the sense of the kind of activities and interests that the centers supported. In many cities, open conflict developed over the effort of lesbians to have the space be welcoming to them as well. Los Angeles was one of the cities where, in the 1970s, these tensions erupted openly into bitterly fought battles.

In some cities, lesbians attempted to form their own community centers. But the challenges in the 1970s and early 1980s were even greater than those faced by the efforts led by gay men. The deeply structural gender bias in employment and wages made it harder for women who were attracted to women to live as a lesbian. Those who were out were likely to have fewer economic resources to sustain a community center. And, in this era, many lesbians had a primary commitment to a broader feminist activism.

A Lesbian Community Center opened in Chicago in 1979. Located on Sheffield Avenue in Lakeview not far from Wrigley Field, it occupied two rooms on the second floor of a larger building. It maintained evening hours during the week and afternoon hours on Saturday and Sunday, a significant achievement. The Center maintained a lending library at a time when LGBT books were not so easily available. Describing itself as “a referral-information service and drop-in space,” it promised conversation, rap groups, and a wealth of information about resources available to lesbians in particular and women more generally. It also made its space available to other lesbian groups and organized cultural and athletic events.

For those interested in writing a history of the organization, the papers will prove disappointing. There just isn’t enough information to make the Center and its activities come alive. But – and here’s the good news! – for someone wanting to reconstruct a history of lesbian life in Chicago in this era in its social, cultural, and political dimensions, there is material that will prove invaluable. For instance, there is a binder in the collection marked “Resources, A to Z” and dated January 1, 1982. It contains the names of individual organizations as well as organizations grouped by categories ranging from “Bars” to “Third World Women’s Resources.” Imagine how useful that would be for tracing the contours of lesbian community and activism!

There are also three boxes of 3×5 index cards. One is a “Library Users File” with names and addresses. Another is a file of cards of volunteers with their names, what they are able to do and when they are available, and often with addresses as well. And there is a “Library Circulation File” in which each card lists a book and its author, and who has borrowed the book. As I flipped through all these cards, I could readily imagine a researcher constructing a master file of addresses designed to identify residential areas where lesbians were concentrated. The library circulation records would provide insight into the books that were most popular among lesbians in this period. Profiles of activists might emerge in the course of this close examination.

Finally, as almost always seems to be true in my archival explorations at Gerber/Hart, one odd and unexpected item stood out: a set of reel-to- reel tapes from the 1960s labeled “Dr. Goldiamond lectures – Washington School of Psych.” What might these contain, I wondered? Alas, without a reel-to- reel tape recorder, I wasn’t able to answer my question. But they are there for someone who has the interest and the diligence to find out.

CFP | LGBT Themes in African American History | Deadline March 1 2018

BY ON July 6, 2017

The Journal of African American History is planning a Special Issue on the connections between Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual (LGBT) subjects or topics and the history of African American life, culture, and politics. Over the past twenty-five years, the field of LGBT historical studies has grown rapidly, and yet up until quite recently, the scholarship has not addressed questions of race in general, or the African American past in particular. Historiographical debates over the merits of a minoritarian versus a queer methodology stimulated important conversations about modes of research and writing, but the unspoken assumptions were that the proper object of inquiry was white and that resistance against homophobia had little or nothing to do with survival in a racist culture.

The explosion of literature on the civil rights campaigns, Black Power and black radicalism, and urbanization has not expanded to document the role of black LGBT activists, organizations, or communities. Too often powerful critical tools for analyzing racial formation have not been applied to the construction of sexuality, and vice versa. This Special Issue proposes to correct the missed connections between these overlapping narratives of race and sexuality, and present cutting-edge scholarship on LGBT themes in African American history from a wide variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives, involving archival, cultural, and oral sources.

Topics and subject matter constituting the intersection between African Americans and LGBT historical inquiries could include: 1) African American family, youth, and LGBT issues historically; 2) the impact of religion, and notions of respectability, masculinity, and femininity on the construction of black LGBT identity; 3) the connections between Civil Rights and Gay Rights and between Black Power and Gay Liberation; 4) African American communities and the AIDS epidemic; 5) LGBT subjectivity in African American film, music, and entertainment; 6) the contribution of LGBT African Americans to the hair, fashion, commercial art industries, as well as the performing arts; 7) political and economic interactions between African Americans and LGBT social justice organizations; 8) the historical encounter between black LGBT actors and the state, the military, or prison systems; 9) the impact of urbanization, including segregation, crime and violence, policing, and sex work on black LGBT lives and organizations.

Essays should be no more than 35 typed, double-spaced pages (12 point font), including endnotes. The JAAH uses the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition (Chicago, IL, 2010) for citations. Guidelines for manuscript submission are published in the JAAH and on the JAAH website; for inquiries the email address is: vpf1019@aol.com. Submitted essays will be peer reviewed. Your cover letter should include the title of your essay, name, postal address, e-mail address, and phone number. Your essay should begin with the title of the essay and should NOT include your name. Please send three (3) hard copies of your manuscript to:

Dr. Kevin Mumford, Guest Editor
c/o V. P. Franklin, Editor,

The Journal of African American History
University of New Orleans
Department of History
2000 Lake Shore Drive
New Orleans, LA 70148

H/T: Nicholas Syrett, CLGBTH

John D’Emilio LGBTQ History Dissertation Award Announcement

BY ON July 5, 2017

This message comes from the Organization of American Historians


The OAH announces the establishment of the John D’Emilio LGBTQ History Dissertation Award, given annually to the best PhD dissertation in U.S. LGBTQ history. The award is named for John D’Emilio, pioneer in LGBTQ history and co-director of OutHistory.org.

A dissertation must be completed during the period July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 to be eligible for the 2018 D’Emilio Award.

The award will be presented at the 2018 OAH Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California, April 12–14.


Please send an electronic attachment (PDF) of your complete dissertation in one e-mail to all three committee members listed below by midnight (PST) on October 2, 2017, and include in the subject line “2018 John D’Emilio LGBTQ History Dissertation Award.” The committee members must receive all applications by this date.

Each application must also include a letter of support from a faculty member at the degree-granting institution, along with an abstract and table of contents.

The final decision will be made by the award committee by February 2018. The winner will be provided with details regarding the OAH Annual Meeting and awards presentation.

Committee Members:

Pippa Holloway (Committee Chair)
Affiliation: Middle Tennessee State University

Julio Capó, Jr.
Affiliation: University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Kevin Mumford
Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign