James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Changing Portrayals in the Mainstream Media

As much as book lovers might hate to admit it, the primary way mainstream ideology is promoted and disseminated is not through the written word but through the visual media. In his book, "from perverts to fab five: The Media's Changing Depiction of Gay Men and Lesbians," Rodger Streitmatter charts the changing topography of the LGBT cultural landscape reflected through the lens of television and movies. He begins with the newspaper image of the prowling pervert of the Joseph McCarthy era and proceeds through the breakthrough film "Brokeback Mountain" in 2005. Ellen DeGeneres' coming out, "Queer as Folk," The L-Word," Will and Grace," and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," all of which have become cultural reference points in television history, are taken on by Streitmatter, a Professor and Senior Associate Dean in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C.

For other resources the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, (GLAAD), monitors the U.S. media for both positive and negative depictions of queer folks. Here is a video of the history of LGBTs on television. And here is a more up to date version of the same subject.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Judy Grahn: Words That Mobilized a Movement

Judy Grahn's poetry is intense, electric, a firestorm that illuminated a path for dyke activists in the early seventies. She spoke, she theorized, she shed light from a feminist and uniquely lesbian perspective that was steeped in her working-class roots and consciousness. And as the years have passed she continues to explore and analyze the meaning of patriarchy and the role that women play in it.

"The Judy Grahn Reader," is a compilation that summarizes the highlights of her work from 1969 to 2000. It begins with the "Common Woman Poems," and continues through much of her early poetry including "Edward the Dyke," and her classic epic poem, "A Woman is Talking to Death." There are short sections of fiction and drama and many excerpts from her prolific later-life, mostly non-fiction material.

Here are some selections from interviews with Grahn and an article on Celebrating the Poetry of the Women's Movement.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bayard Rustin, Gay Civil Rights Activist

Martin Luther King Day celebrates the birthday of the most well-known leader of the black civil rights movement. However, a long unsung hero and prominent activst of that era had been nearly written out of history up until the last decades of the 20th century. Bayard Rustin, the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington was an openly gay African-American man, a draft resister, a pacifist and a one-time member of the Communist Party. He faced arrest for his political convictions and his sexual orientation and endured censure from both the outside world as well as the groups he considered his community.

Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer is an overview of his life and times. Jerald Podair begins with a chronology of important events in his career and the book is organized by time periods with a chapter at the end containing supporting articles, letters and statements by Rustin addressing a wide-range of political issues from trade-unions to Soviet Jewry to Homosexual Rights. This book is a handy resource with a host of original material and documentation.

Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, by John D'Emilio is a more in depth biography. "Based on more than a decade of archival research and interviews," it is revommended for those who want to dive more fully into the details of the turbulent life of this passionate and fascinating man.

Here is a film clip with actual footage from the civil rights struggle that includes John D'Emilio speaking and also a clip of Rustin debating Malcolm X.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Queer Perspective in Spanish Culture

Mexico City recently legalized same-sex marriage and adoption. Buenos Aires just licensed its first gay marriages as well. But the pioneering country of the Spanish-speaking world is Spain, a country that legalized queer marriages in 2005. The death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 brought Spain out from behind a heavy, fascist curtain of repression and isolation where even the train tracks had been built to different dimensions than those in the rest of Europe.

Franco's death brought forth a culture renaissance known as La Movida Madrilena, (the Madrid Movement), a politically and socially progressive blossoming of art and culture that continues today. This book, "Queer Transitions in Contemporary Spanish Culture: From Franco to La Movida," sheds light on ongoing democratic transition of Spain from a queer perspective. Gema Perez-Sanchez begins with the dangerous and self-loathing homosexual of the Franco years, through the literary blossoming of the eighties onward through the early years of the 21st century. She analyzes films, periodicals and comic books along with works of literary fiction.

Here is some more information on La Movida. And click here for the moving speech by the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, delivered in 2005 marking the end of discriminatory marriage laws.