I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear that a) my people get both a pride month AND a history month* and b) it’s during October, the month of my birth and more widely known as Breast Cancer Awareness month (the biggest bummer in the entire world since that is what my mom died from and it seriously sucks being unable to escape all the discussion during October).
Adam at Roof Beam Reader is hosting a reading challenge to celebrate and I am thrilled to be participating. In true history month fashion, I’ve chosen three history books that I own and haven’t yet read that fit perfectly:
The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians On TV
By Stephen Tropiano
Television history was made on April 30, 1997, when comedian Ellen DeGeneres and her sitcom alter-ego Ellen Morgan, “came out” to her close friends and 36 million viewers. This groundbreaking episode represented a significant milestone in Amerian television. For the first time, a TV series centered around a lesbian character who was portrayed by an openly gay actor. The millions of viewers who tuned in that historic night were witnesses to a new era in television. THE PRIME TIME CLOSET offers an entertaining and in-depth glimpse into homosexuality on television from the 1950s through today. Divided into four sections, each devoted to a major television genre, this unique book explores how gay men and lesbians have been depicted in over three hundred television episodes and made-for-TV films. These include medical series, police/detective shows, situation comedies and TV dramas. THE PRIME TIME CLOSET also reveals how television’s treatement of homosexuality has reflected and reinforced society’s ignorance about and fear of gay men and lesbians. At the same time, it celebrates programs like Ellen and Will & Grace that have broken new ground in their sensitive and enlightened approach to homosexuality and gay-related themes. This book is witty and insightful, accessible and illuminating, a look into what has become an integral part of American media culture.
I was given this book for Christmas a couple years back. Although it was published in 2002 and is a bit dated, I’m hoping there will be lots of awesome analysis of earlier television shows.
Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community
by Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline D. Davis
Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold traces the evolution of the lesbian community in Buffalo, New York from the mid-1930s up to the early 1960s. Drawing upon the oral histories of 45 women, it is the first comprehensive history of a working-class lesbian community. These poignant and complex stories show how black and white working-class lesbians, although living under oppressive circumstances, nevertheless became powerful agents of historical change.
Based on 13 years of research, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold ranges over such topics as sex, relationships, coming out, butch-femme roles, motherhood, aging, racism, work, oppression and pride. Kennedy and Davis provide a unique insider’s perspective on butch-femme culture and argue that the roots of gay and lesbian liberation are found specifically in the determined resistance of working-class lesbians.
I should have read this a long time ago. It’s a classic.
Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution
by Linda Hirshman
Supreme Court lawyer and political pundit Hirshman details the stunning story of how a resourceful and dedicated minority transformed the notion of American marriage equality and forged a campaign for cultural change.
I received a copy of this for review. The first time I tried to read it didn’t go so well, but I think it’s time to give it another shot.
My big goal is to read all three and write about them, but I’ll be happy to read and review at least one.
*Although history month isn’t “official” here in the United States, unlike Pride month which has been officially declared by Presidents Clinton and Obama.