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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality > LGBT Studies

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Freedom to Differ Cover

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Freedom to Differ

The Shaping of the Gay and Lesbian Struggle for Civil Rights

Diane Miller

Many of us have grown up with the language of civil rights, yet rarely consider how the construction of civil rights claims affects those who are trying to attain them. Diane Miller examines arguments lesbians and gay men make for civil rights, revealing the ways these arguments are both progressive--in terms of helping to win court cases seeking basic human rights--and limiting--in terms of framing representations of gay men and lesbians.

Miller incorporates case studies of lesbians in the military and in politics into her argument. She discusses in detail the experiences of Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, who was dishonorably discharged from the National Guard after 27 years of service when she revealed that she was a lesbian, and Roberta Achtenberg, who was nominated by Clinton for the job of Assistant Director of Housing and Urban Development and became the first gay or lesbian to face the confirmation process. Drawing on these cases and their outcomes, Miller evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of privileging civil rights strategies in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights.

Gaming at the Edge Cover

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Gaming at the Edge

Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture

Adrienne Shaw

Video games have long been seen as the exclusive territory of young, heterosexual white males. In a media landscape dominated by such gamers, players who do not fit this mold, including women, people of color, and LGBT people, are often brutalized in forums and in public channels in online play. Discussion of representation of such groups in games has frequently been limited and cursory. In contrast, Gaming at the Edge builds on feminist, queer, and postcolonial theories of identity and draws on qualitative audience research methods to make sense of how representation comes to matter.

In Gaming at the Edge, Adrienne Shaw argues that video game players experience race, gender, and sexuality concurrently. She asks: How do players identify with characters? How do they separate identification and interactivity? What is the role of fantasy in representation? What is the importance of understanding market logic? In addressing these questions Shaw reveals how representation comes to matter to participants and offers a perceptive consideration of the high stakes in politics of representation debates.

Putting forth a framework for talking about representation, difference, and diversity in an era in which user-generated content, individualized media consumption, and the blurring of producer/consumer roles has lessened the utility of traditional models of media representation analysis, Shaw finds new insight on the edge of media consumption with the invisible, marginalized gamers who are surprising in both their numbers and their influence in mainstream gamer culture.

Gay Bar Cover

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Gay Bar

The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s

Will Fellows

Vivacious, unconventional, candid, and straight, Helen Branson operated a gay bar in Los Angeles in the 1950s—America’s most anti-gay decade. After years of fending off drunken passes as an entertainer in cocktail bars, this divorced grandmother preferred the wit, variety, and fun she found among homosexual men. Enjoying their companionship and deploring their plight, she gave her gay friends a place to socialize. Though at the time California statutes prohibited homosexuals from gathering in bars, Helen’s place was relaxed, suave, and remarkably safe from police raids and other anti-homosexual hazards. In 1957 she published her extraordinary memoir Gay Bar, the first book by a heterosexual to depict the lives of homosexuals with admiration, respect, and love.
    In this new edition of Gay Bar, Will Fellows interweaves Branson’s chapters with historical perspective provided through his own insightful commentary and excerpts gleaned from letters and essays appearing in gay publications of the period. Also included is the original introduction to the book by maverick 1950s psychiatrist Blanche Baker. The eclectic selection of voices gives the flavor of American life in that extraordinary age of anxiety, revealing how gay men saw themselves and their circumstances, and how others perceived them.

Gay Fathers, Their Children, and the Making of Kinship Cover

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Gay Fathers, Their Children, and the Making of Kinship

Aaron Goodfellow

While the topic of gay marriage and families continues to be popular in the media, few scholarly works focus on gay men with children. Based on ten years of fieldwork among gay families living in the rural, suburban, and urban area of the eastern United States, Gay Fathers, Their Children, and the Making of Kinship presents a beautifully written and meticulously argued ethnography of gay men and the families they have formed. In a culture that places a premium on biology as the founding event of paternity, Aaron Goodfellow poses the question: Can the signing of legal contracts and the public performances of care replace biological birth as the singular event marking the creation of fathers? Beginning with a comprehensive review of the relevant literature in this field, four chapters—each presenting a particular picture of paternity—explore a range of issues, such as interracial adoption, surrogacy, the importance of physical resemblance in familial relationships, single parenthood, delinquency, and the ways in which the state may come to define the norms of health. The author deftly illustrates how fatherhood for gay men draws on established biological, theological, and legal images of the family often thought oppressive to the emergence of queer forms of social life. Chosen with care and described with great sensitivity, each carefully researched case examines gay fatherhood through life narratives. Painstakingly theorized, Gay Fathers, Their Children, and the Making of Kinship contends that gay families are one of the most important areas to which social scientists might turn in order to understand how law, popular culture, and biology are simultaneously made manifest and interrogated in everyday life. By focusing specifically on gay fathers, Goodfellow produces an anthropological account of how paternity, sexuality, and masculinity are leveraged in relations of care between gay fathers and their children.

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Gay is Good

The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny

edited by Michael G. Long

Contrary to popular notions, today’s LGBT movement did not begin with the Stonewall riots in 1969. Long before Stonewall, there was Franklin Kameny (1925–2011), one of the most significant figures in the gay rights movement. Beginning in 1958, he encouraged gay people to embrace homosexuality as moral and healthy, publicly denounced the federal government for excluding homosexuals from federal employment, openly fought the military’s ban against gay men and women, debated psychiatrists who depicted homosexuality as a mental disorder, identified test cases to advance civil liberties through the federal courts, acted as counsel to countless homosexuals suffering state-sanctioned discrimination, and organized marches for gay rights at the White House and other public institutions. In Gay Is Good, Long collects Kameny’s historically rich letters, revealing some of the early stirrings of today’s politically powerful LGBT movement. These letters are lively and colorful because they are in Kameny’s inimitable voice—a voice that was consistently loud, echoing through such places as the Oval Office, the Pentagon, and the British Parliament, and often shrill, piercing to the federal agency heads, military generals, and media personalities who received his countless letters. This volume collects approximately 150 letters from 1958 to 1975, a critical period in Kameny’s life during which he evolved from a victim of the law to a vocal opponent of the law, to the voice of the law itself. Long situates these letters in context, giving historical and biographical data about the subjects and events involved. Gay Is Good pays tribute to an advocate whose tireless efforts created a massive shift in social attitudes and practices, leading the way toward equality for the LGBT community.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Aging Cover

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Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Aging

Challenges in Research, Practice, and Policy

edited by Tarynn M. Witten, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., and A. Evan Eyler, M.D., M.P.H.

The graying of the U.S. population draws increasing focus to historically unattended segments of society, including sexual and gender minorities. In this first comprehensive volume to address the challenges of aging in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex populations, this text presents what is currently known about aging GLBT individuals and what services are needed to support them. The editors first provide an introductory overview comparing caregiving in GLBT and normative aging communities. In chapters devoted to the issues of each alternative sexuality and gender identity community, top experts in the field discuss biomedical, psychological, social/sexual, spiritual, socioeconomic, and service topics related to that community's aging needs. GLBT populations face unique challenges as they age. Despite the often severe difficulties they encounter, many live out their final years with the dignity and grace that all of us deserve. With a combination of the latest biological and social science research, moving case studies and first-person accounts, practical advice for health professionals, and research literature citations, this book represents a major step forward in addressing concerns of aging GLBT populations. Integrating research, practice, and policy, this text is for students and professionals in gerontology, medicine, social work, psychology, nursing, public health, and related fields who wish to learn more about the life experiences and concerns of sexual and gender-minority-identified older patients.

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Gay Rights at the Ballot Box

Amy L. Stone

The passage of the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 in California in 2008 stunned gay rights activists across the country. Although facing a well-funded campaign in support of the ballot measure, LGBT activists had good reasons for optimism, including the size and strength of their campaign. Since 1974, the LGBT movement has fought 146 anti-gay ballot initiatives sponsored by the religious right and has developed innovative strategies to oppose these measures. In Gay Rights at the Ballot Box, Amy L. Stone examines how the tactics of LGBT activists have evolved and unravels the complex relationship between ballot measure campaigns and the broader goals of the LGBT movement.

The first comprehensive history of anti-gay ballot measures, both those merely attempted and those successfully put before voters, this book draws on archival research and interviews with more than one hundred LGBT activists to provide a detailed account of the campaigns to stop such ballot measures from passing into law. As Stone shows through in-depth case studies, although LGBT activists lost the vast majority of these fights, they also won significant statewide victories in Oregon in 1992 and Arizona in 2006, and local successes, including ones in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1998 and 2002.

Stone analyzes how LGBT activists constantly refined their campaign tactics in response to both victories and defeats. She also stresses that such campaigns have played both a complementary and contradictory role within the LGBT movement. Specific anti-ballot campaigns and the broader movement do often strengthen each other. However, ballot measure campaigns sometimes distract activists from the movement’s more general goals, and activists at the movement level can pressure local campaigns to take on more than they can handle. With gay rights coming under increasing assault from the religious right, this book is a vital resource for LGBT activists and others working to block their efforts.

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Gay TV and Straight America

Ron Becker

After decades of silence on the subject of homosexuality, television in the 1990s saw a striking increase in programming that incorporated and, in many cases, centered on gay material. In shows including Friends, Seinfeld, Party of Five, Homicide, Suddenly Susan, The Commish, Ellen, Will & Grace, and others, gay characters were introduced, references to homosexuality became commonplace, and issues of gay and lesbian relationships were explored, often in explicit detail.In Gay TV and Straight America, Ron Becker draws on a wide range of political and cultural indicators to explain this sudden upsurge of gay material on prime-time network television. Bringing together analysis of relevant Supreme Court rulings, media coverage of gay rights battles, debates about multiculturalism, concerns over political correctness, and much more, Becker's assessment helps us understand how and why televised gayness was constructed by a specific culture of tastemakers during the decade.On one hand the evidence points to network business strategies that embraced gay material as a valuable tool for targeting a quality audience of well-educated, upscale adults looking for something "edgy" to watch. But, Becker also argues that the increase of gay material in the public eye creates growing mainstream anxiety in reaction to the seemingly civil public conversation about equal rights.In today's cultural climate where controversies rage over issues of gay marriage yet millions of viewers tune in weekly to programs like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, this book offers valuable insight to the complex condition of America's sexual politics.

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Gays and the Military

Joseph Steffan versus the United States

Marc Wolinsky

In April 1987 Joseph C. Steffan, one of the ten highest ranking midshipmen in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy, and only six weeks from graduation, was denied his diploma and forced to resign his commission because he answered "Yes, sir" to the question, "I'd like your word, are you a homosexual?" Six years later his cause, and that of other gay men and lesbians seeking to serve their country by enlistment in the military, has become the subject of intense national controversy. This unusual and innovative work, based on the litigation strategy and court papers filed in the case of Joseph C. Steffan v. Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense, et al., brings the resources of clinical psychiatry, clinical and social psychology, cultural history and political science to bear upon the fundamental questions at issue: How is sexual orientation determined? How and why have socially prejudiced stereotypes about male and female homosexuals developed? Why have gays faced special obstacles in defending themselves against discrimination? How much political power do gays have?

Marc Wolinsky and Kenneth Sherrill argue that gays constitute a politically powerless class that has been unjustly deprived of its constitutional right to equal protection under the law. They have collected here the affidavits filed on behalf of Joseph Steffan in his suit against the United States government, together with the counter-arguments of the Department of Defense and the extraordinary opinion of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Whatever the outcome of the case, presently on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, this book will stand as a lasting and indispensable guide to the sources of sexual discrimination.

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Gertrude Stein and the Essence of What Happens

Dana Cairns Watson

In this provocative study, Dana Cairns Watson traces Gertrude Stein’s growing fascination with the cognitive and political ramifications of conversation and how that interest influenced her writing over the course of her career. No book in recent decades has illuminated so many of Stein’s works so extensively—from the early fiction of The Making of Americans to the poetry of Tender Buttons to her opera libretto The Mother of Us All. Seeking to sustain Stein’s lively, pleasant, populist spirit, Watson shows how the writer’s playful entanglement of sight and sound—of silent reading and social speaking—reveals the crucial ambiguity by which reading and conversation build communities of meaning, and thus form not only personal relationships but also our very selves and the larger political structures we inhabit. Stein reminds us that the residual properties of words and the implications behind the give-and-take of ordinary conversation offer alternatives to linear structures of social order, alternatives especially precious in times of political oppression. For example, her novels Mrs. Reynolds and Brewsie and Willie, both written in embattled Vichy France, contemplate the speech patterns of totalitarian leaders and the ways in which everyday discourse might capitulate to—or resist—such verbal tyranny. Like recent theorists, Stein recognized the repressiveness of conventional order—carried in language and thus in thought and social organization—but as Cairns Watson persuasively shows, she also insisted that the free will of individuals can persist in language and enable change. In the play of literary aesthetics, Stein saw a liberating force.

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