Friday, June 21, 2013

between the lines history

My post yesterday concluded chapter two of A Queer History of the United States. I have eight more chapters to go before I'm done. When I ordered this book I was expecting a more ''traditional''  presentation of LGBT history. What I mean by traditional is I thought I would discover maverick like LGBT's who were way ahead of they're time, shaking up colonial and post revolutionary America by being out and proud. I also expected to learn about secret and little known LGBT groups, clubs[not the kind where you party all night long]and organizations that existed in the 18th and 18th centuries. How did LGBT people meet, I wanted to know. Did they party all night long, if so how? Was there some semblance of a community?
    Well, I have not come across information like that so far, but what I have found and realized is actually better. Race and sex are physical traits that most people cannot hide. Maverick like crusaders, groups, clubs and organizations did exist for them. But for LGBT's the opposite is true. Sexuality is not a physical trait and most LGBT's can hide. So, since LGBT oppression is a psychological oppression, rather than a physical one, LGBT liberation would have to be psychological, too. That's not to say that there were no secret groups, clubs, hang-outs, organizations, etc., but there existence would not have been recorded for posterity. It would have much too dangerous.
    I use to think pre 20th century LGBT history was scanty but it is not. What I'm learning/realizing is that LGBT's do have a rich history going back to the colonial era, and beyond.  I was looking for official groups, clubs, organizations, newspapers and mavericks blazing a trail but that is not how one studies LGBT history. It is a history where messages, meanings and images are subtle and between the lines. If it is studied like that one will find tons of information. Tomorrow I'm going to elaborate on that point.

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