A Queer History of the United States

A Queer History of the United States

Book - 2011
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"A Queer History of the United States is groundbreaking and accessible. It looks at how American culture has shaped the LGBT, or queer, experience, while simultaneously arguing that LGBT people not only shaped but were pivotal in creating our country. Using numerous primary documents and literature, as well as social histories, Bronski's book takes the reader through the centuries--from Columbus' arrival and the brutal treatment the Native peoples received, through the American Revolution's radical challenging of sex and gender roles--to the violent, and liberating, 19th century--and the transformative social justice movements of the 20th. Bronski's book is filled with startling examples of often ignored or unknown aspects of American history: the ineffectiveness of sodomy laws in the colonies, the prevalence of cross-dressing women soldiers in the Civil War, the effect of new technologies on LGBT life in the 19th century, and how rock music and popular culture were, in large part, responsible for the great backlash against gay rights in the late 1970s. More than anything, A Queer History of the United States is not so much about queer history as it is about all American history--and why it should matter to both LGBT people and heterosexuals alike"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, c2011
ISBN: 9780807044391
Branch Call Number: 306.76 Bronski
306.76 Bronski
Characteristics: xx, 287 p. ; 24 cm


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Mar 03, 2018

I read all but one of two of the first chapters of this book, for research for a gay historical fiction novel and ... some of it was really good, some of it was mediocre, but I found it had a lot of contradictions.

This is a very general history of gay culture in the United States, and with its broad brushstrokes, sometimes it wins, sometimes it loses.

I took lots of notes and found many enjoyable details (the chapter on the production and marketing of gender was an unexpected joy) I found lots of bisexual / asexual and trans erasure present not only in the historical text but in the text itself.

I liked that it often challenged and called out racist ideals of the time, as well as well-known historical figures who were racist, but I was just disappointed at times in the overall tone of this book, upon reflection.

This feels very white-centered and very along the gay/lesbian binary, as well as the male/female binary.

I'm pleased with the notes I made, but I just found this to be well-intentioned and equally harmful. At one point, Bronski conflates the queer struggle with the struggle for equality amongst African Americans in the United States. He makes one or two interesting points I suppose, but to conflate and compare struggles is harmful and has already been done a thousand times over. He then goes on to elaborate that we shouldn't compare struggles, but like lots of white male cis writers, lacks the subtlety to break down the intersectionality of blackness and queerness in any meaningful way.

He then makes a smart move and quotes Audre Lorde, and then leaves the quotation unattended. The more I think about this, the more it sours in my mouth, which is sad because it was an enjoyable read, but I often wanted Bronski to check his privilege and drop his pejorative views.

Oh well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


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