Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots. We reached out to some of our authors to reflect on the impact of this landmark and turning point in the centuries of queer history in America and the ongoing fight for queer equality. We share their statements with you below.
A Q&A with Michael Bronski | The idea for YA versions of books in Beacon’s ReVisioning American History series largely came from educators and librarians. My editor, Gayatri Patnaik, and I learned that teachers were looking for resources, and Gayatri suggested we answer their call with a young reader’s edition. With support from the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility, senior editor Joanna Green reached out to educators, librarians, and adapters, who generously and enthusiastically collaborated on this effort. At the moment, Beacon is releasing my book A Queer History of the United States for Young People as well as Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People. There have been, in the past five years or so, a surge in YA nonfiction publishing, particularly adaptations of adult non-fiction for younger readers. So, the time seemed right, and the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall seemed to be perfect timing.
This year’s Human Rights Day marks the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the perfect day to reflect on the US’s treatment of the immigrant community. And let me tell you: It’s going to be a stark reckoning. Just look at some of this year’s headlines. Many migrant families are still separated. Border patrol agents fired tear gas at migrant families at the US-Mexico border to disperse them. This is inhumane treatment. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the “inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being—regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” That’s not what we’re seeing. Where are the inalienable rights for this community?
By Michael Bronski: Charley Shively, one of the pivotal figures in the Gay Liberation Movement, died Friday, October 6 at the Cambridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Home, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He had been a resident since June of 2011, suffering from Alzheimer’s. He would have been eighty on December 8, 2017. At the 1977 Boston Gay Pride march, Shively became infamous for his burning of the Bible—as well as his insurance policy, Harvard diploma, and teaching contract—as a protest against oppressive institutions.
By Michael BronskiIt is impossible to overestimate the effect of World War II on American culture, and in particular on lesbians and gay men. The United States entered World War II, which had been ongoing since September 1939, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. This decisive turning point in U.S. history reordered American social life and mores, public and private space, and virtually all social interactions having to do with gender and sexual behavior.
By Michael BronskiThe HIV/AIDS epidemic and the success of the battle for marriage equality have been, over the past thirty-five years, the two events that have most affected LGBT lives. These two phenomena—first the spread of a deadly virus that has killed thirty-four million people worldwide and close to 660,000 in the United States, and second a prolonged, well-funded, culturally bitter fight to grant a basic right of legal contact to same-sex couples—are rarely linked in the political or public imagination. Yet, numerous cultural and social interconnections, resonances, and ramifications link these events.
By Michael Bronski, Ann Pellegrini, and Michael Amico“Oh, he is such a homophobe. He’s probably really gay. That explains it.” How often have you heard this? How often have you thought it? Ironically, appeals to common sense are usually made when logical explanations fail or when the explanation is just too confusing to make immediate sense. That is the case with this myth, and, perhaps, with the idea of homophobia itself. Society, culture, economics, power structures, family relationships, prejudices, religion, and so many other factors enter into the creation and maintenance of homophobia. Isolating any one factor, such as a person’s supposed sexuality, and singling it out as the chief cause overlook this complexity. More important, with this myth, it also risks de-politicizing homophobia by turning it into a matter of one individual’s warped psychology.
By Michael Bronski, Ann Pellegrini, and Michael Amico | Attempts to explain what causes homosexuality have a long, and often ugly, history. Various medical theories that pathologized homosexuality have caused and justified outright violence against LGB people, most notably, the use of electroshock treatments as part of therapeutic attempts to cure homosexuality in the 1950s. As terrible as this history is, it does not mean that attempts to consider what causes homosexuality—or how it evolves—are necessarily bad or dangerous for LGB people.
By Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman and Michael BronskiThe words “queer” and “virtue” hardly ever appear together. Like alpha and omega, sin and grace, and wrong and right, they are always seen as opposing ends of a spectrum. Elizabeth Edman’s Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity brilliantly, succinctly, and with enormous empathy and insight argues that these terms, far from being oppositional, are wedded in ways that make them distinctly unique. Indeed, brought together they are the quintessence of Christianity.
2015 has been, to say the least, rather momentous, and continues to be as it draws to a close. We at Beacon Press are so grateful to our brilliant authors who have offered their time and insights to analyze and comment on this year's events. Their posts—with topics ranging from race to cultural or class dynamics and to the environment—have been, if you will, a true beacon for the Broadside. Before we bid farewell to 2015, we would like to share a collection of some our most-read posts. This list is by no means exhaustive. Make sure to peruse our archives. You can expect to see more thought-provoking essays and commentary from our contributors in 2016. Happy New Year!
By Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski | Three people were dead and nine others treated for gunshot wounds. Even as Robert Lewis Dear, the white man who, on November 27 2015, allegedly laid armed siege to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs was taken into custody, social media posts—from progressive advocates, pundits, and some politicians—immediately characterized his actions as “domestic terrorism.”
It’s almost that time of year again—and we don’t just mean Halloween. The eagerly anticipated fifth season of the American Horror Story anthology on the FX television channel is ready to air. AHS is something of a guilty pleasure for the two of us, not least for its superb casts, vivid (if grotesque) blending of history with American popular culture, and wild, even haunting, flights of imagination that often touch on themes of dehumanization, prejudice, fairness, and justice.
By Michael Bronski This blog post is one of two about the publication of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. To read part two, Kay Whitlock's follow-up on the conversation, click here. *** American readers love stories of political uplift...
By Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski The Tribe/YouTube “What if sensational acts of hate violence, which media accounts often represent as aberrant, actually reflect existing community norms?” —Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics Early in...
A true mark of today’s paradigm shift is seeing how quickly the media and American society at large learned to address Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox by their new gender identities. The widespread visibility of diverse LGBT identities continues to...
By Michael Bronski Image from Flickr user Laverrue As we move into LGBTQ Pride month we are being met with a deluge of public discussions, events, breaking news stories, and potentially groundbreaking legal decisions that impact not only the queer...
With the excitement following the announcement of the forthcoming publication of Harper Lee's second book, Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski take a fresh, critical look at the way in which To Kill a Mockingbird frames its discussion of racial violence and responsibility for both perpetrating and dismantling it.
It was another tragedy in a distrustful, on-edge society steeped in violent confrontation and extra-judicial killing as the solution to whatever ails us.
D. W. Griffith’s infamous silent film 'The Birth of a Nation' turns 100 years old this Sunday. In an excerpt from their new book CONSIDERING HATE, Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski investigate the legacy of that film’s “politically fraught public discussion of hate, race, power, and sex.”
'Considering Hate' authors Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski examine the shadow side of the #JeSuisCharlie movement.