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

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Laud Humphreys Cover

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Laud Humphreys

Prophet of Homosexuality and Sociology

John F. Galliher, Wayne Brekhus, and David P. Keys

Laud Humphreys (1930–1988) was a pioneering and fearless sociologist, an Episcopal priest, and a civil rights, gay, and antiwar activist. In graduate school during the late 1960s, he conducted extensive fieldwork in public restrooms in a St. Louis city park to discover patterns of impersonal sex among men. He published the results in Tearoom Trade. Three decades later the book still triggers many debates about the ethics of his research methods. In 1974, he was the first sociologist to come out as gay. Laud Humphreys: Prophet of Homosexuality and Sociology examines the groundbreaking work through the life of a complex man and the life of the man through his controversial work. It is an invaluable contribution to sociology and a fascinating record of a courageous life.

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The Lavender Vote

Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals in American Electoral Politics

Mark Hertzog

In the quarter century since the Stonewall riots in New York City's Greenwich Village launched the national gay-rights movement in earnest, LGB voters have steadily expanded their political influence. The Lavender Vote is the first full- length examination of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals as a factor in American elections. Mark Hertzog here describes the differences in demographics, attitudes, and voting behavior between self-identified bisexuals and homosexuals and the rest of the voting population. He shows that lavender self- identifiers comprise a distinctive voting bloc equal in numbers to Latino voters, more liberal across the board on domestic social issues (though not necessarily on economic or national security issues) than non-gay voters, and extremely unified in high-salience elections. Further, lavender voters, contrary to popular belief, are up for grabs between the two major parties.

Offering a clear and thorough explanation of LGB voting tendencies, this volume will be must-reading for elected officials, candidates for office, and all those interested in learning about LGB voters.

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Lawfully Wedded Husband

How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family

Joel Derfner

When Joel Derfner's boyfriend proposed to him, there was nowhere in America the two could legally marry. That changed quickly, however, and before long the two were on what they expected to be a rollicking journey to married bliss. What they didn't realize was that, along the way, they would confront not just the dilemmas every couple faces on the way to the altar—what kind of ceremony would they have? what would they wear? did they have to invite Great Aunt Sophie?—but also questions about what a relationship can and can't do, the definition of marriage, and, ultimately, what makes a family.

            Add to the mix a reality show whose director forces them to keep signing and notarizing applications for a wedding license until the cameraman gets a shot she likes; a family marriage history that includes adulterers, arms smugglers, and poisoners; and discussions of civil rights, Sophocles, racism, grammar, and homemade Ouija boards—coupled with Derfner's gift for getting in his own way—and what results is a story not just of gay marriage and the American family but of what it means to be human.

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Legalizing Gay Marriage: Vermont And The National Debate

Every day seems to bring news of legal challenges to existing marriage laws and the constitutionality of any form of union for same-sex partners. In this timely and accessible book, Michael Mello argues that the public debates and political battles that have divided Vermont and Massachusetts will be repeated across the country as state after state confronts the issue of legalizing gay marriage.Michael Mello examines recent landmark decisions in state and federal high courts granting civil rights protections to homosexuals. In Vermont, the Supreme Court's recommendation that legislators recognize the "common humanity" that links all individuals irrespective of sexual identity and consider the question of same-sex marriage resulted in the first state legislation to establish civil union. In Massachusetts, the court's ruling that gay marriage is a right protected by the state constitution has plunged the legislature into a contentious debate about a constitutional amendment. In both states, as in California and New York, public discussion of equal civil protections for gays and lesbians soon become mired in contending views of morality, religion, social mores, and the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.Mello regards the widespread and virulent opposition to any form of same-sex unions as proof that in Vermont, as elsewhere, homosexuals are indeed a "despised minority" in need of the law's protection. Thus, civil union laws represent only a partial victory because they create a separate and inherently unequal category of relationships for gay people. Mello's analysis of the issues provides an invaluable guide to the battles being waged in state legislatures and by politicians at the national level.

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Lesbian & Bisexual Identities

This book examines  the stories of lesbian and bisexual women in a Northeast community who share who they are, how they have come to see themselves as lesbian or bisexual, and what those identities mean to them. Drawing on social constructionist approaches to identity, Kristin G. Esterberg argues that identities are multiple and contingent. Created within the context of specific communities and within specific relationships, lesbian and bisexual identities are ways  of sorting through experiences of desires and attractions, relationships, and politics. Their meanings change over time as women grow older and have more varied experiences, as the communities and sociopolitical worlds in which they live change, and as their life circumstances alter.

In interviews conducted over a four-year time period, women describe the lesbian community they live in; how they see its structure, its social groups, its informal rules and norms for behavior; and their places inside -- or on the margins of -- the community. Lesbian and Bisexual Identities reveals how women fall in and out of love, how they "perform" lesbian or bisexual identity through clothing, hairstyle, body language, and talk, and many other aspects typically not considered. The women present a variety of accounts. Some consider themselves "lesbian from birth"  and have constructed their lives accordingly, while others have experienced significant shifts in their identities, depending on the influences of feminism, progressive politics, the visibility of the lesbian community, and other factors.

Esterberg offers vivid accounts that defy the stereotypes so commonly offered. Lesbian and Bisexual Identities not only presents women's stories in their own words, it moves beyond storytelling to understand how these accounts resonate  with social science theories of identity and community.

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LGBT Youth in America's Schools

Jason Cianciotto

Jason Cianciotto and Sean Cahill, experts on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender public policy advocacy, combine an accessible review of social science research with analyses of school practices and local, state, and federal laws that affect LGBT students. In addition, portraits of LGBT youth and their experiences with discrimination at school bring human faces to the issues the authors discuss. This is an essential guide for teachers, school administrators, guidance counselors, and social workers interacting with students on a daily basis; school board members and officials determining school policy; nonprofit advocates and providers of social services to youth; and academic scholars, graduate students, and researchers training the next generation of school administrators and informing future policy and practice.

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Longer Views

Extended Essays

Samuel R. Delany

"Reading is a many-layered process -- like writing," observes Samuel R. Delany, a Nebula and Hugo award-winning author and a major commentator on American literature and culture. In this collection of six extended essays, Delany challenges what he calls "the hard-edged boundaries of meaning" by going beyond the customary limits of the genre in which he's writing. By radically reworking the essay form, Delany can explore and express the many layers of his thinking about the nature of art, the workings of language, and the injustices and ironies of social, political, and sexual marginalization. Thus Delany connects, in sometimes unexpected ways, topics as diverse as the origins of modern theater, the context of lesbian and gay scholarship, the theories of cyborgs, how metaphors mean, and the narrative structures in the Star Wars trilogy.

"Over the course of his career," Kenneth James writes in his extensive introduction, "Delany has again and again thrown into question the world-models that all too many of us unknowingly live by." Indeed, Delany challenges an impressive list of world-models here, including High and Low Art, sanity and madness, mathematical logic and the mechanics of mythmaking, the distribution of wealth in our society, and the limitations of our sexual vocabulary. Also included are two essays that illustrate Delany's unique chrestomathic technique, the grouping of textual fragments whose associative interrelationships a reader must actively trace to read them as a resonant argument. Whether writing about Wagner or Hart Crane, Foucault or Robert Mapplethorpe, Delany combines a fierce and often piercing vision with a powerful honesty that beckons us to share in the perspective of these Longer Views.

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Looking Like What You Are

Sexual Style, Race, and Lesbian Identity

Lisa Walker

Looks can be deceiving, and in a society where one's status and access to opportunity are largely attendant on physical appearance, the issue of how difference is constructed and interpreted, embraced or effaced, is of tremendous import.

Lisa Walker examines this issue with a focus on the questions of what it means to look like a lesbian, and what it means to be a lesbian but not to look like one. She analyzes the historical production of the lesbian body as marked, and studies how lesbians have used the frequent analogy between racial difference and sexual orientation to craft, emphasize, or deny physical difference. In particular, she explores the implications of a predominantly visible model of sexual identity for the feminine lesbian, who is both marked and unmarked, desired and disavowed.

Walker's textual analysis cuts across a variety of genres, including modernist fiction such as The Well of Loneliness and Wide Sargasso Sea, pulp fiction of the Harlem Renaissance, the 1950s and the 1960s, post-modern literature as Michelle Cliff's Abeng, and queer theory.

In the book's final chapter, "How to Recognize a Lesbian," Walker argues that strategies of visibility are at times deconstructed, at times reinscribed within contemporary lesbian-feminist theory.

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Loss within Loss

Artists in the Age of AIDS

When an artist dies we face two great losses: the person and the work he did not live to do. Loss within Loss is a moving collaboration by some of America's most eloquent writers, who supply wry, raging, sorrowful, and buoyant accounts of artist friends and lovers struck down by AIDS. These essayists include Maya Angelou, Alan Gurganus, Brad Gooch, John Berendt, Craig Lucas, Robert Rosenblum, and eighteen others. Many of the subjects of the essays were already prominent—James Merrill, Paul Monette, David Wojnarowicz—but many others died young, before they were able to fulfil the promise of their lives and art. Loss within Loss spans all of the arts and includes portraits of choreographers, painters, poets, actors, playwrights, sculptors, editors, composers, and architects.This landmark book is published in association with the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, a national organization that preserves art works created by artists living with HIV or lost to AIDS. Loss within Loss stands as a powerful reminder of the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic on the arts community and as the first real survey of that devastation. Though these accounts are often intensely sad, Loss within Loss is an invigorating, sometimes even exuberant, testimony to the sheer joy of being an artist . . . and being alive.

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