Making Queer History FAQ
We get a lot of questions, so here are some answers to the most common ones!
(If you have asked any of these questions, please don't feel self-conscious, there is a reason they are frequently asked, they are great questions! Just wanted to make it easier for y'all to find the info you're looking for)
Have you covered [this country]?
If you are looking to see if we have any articles mentioning a country, we have an ever-expanding list you can look through!
Do you know the history of [term]?
This project doesn’t often look at the history of queer linguistics. Once or twice we have looked at how specific labels came to be, but that isn’t our area of expertise so I would suggest looking for a different project to answer these questions.
Do you include asexual/aromantic/transgender/nonbinary people?
Will you cover [queer American]?
If we haven't already covered them, no, there are a lot of fantastic projects that cover American queer history specifically, and less fantastic projects that ignore every other kind of queer history. Our goal right now is to have at least one story from every country, and we have already written about quite a few about America, so we are going to focus on stories from countries we haven’t discussed before until we circle back to America.
Why do you use the word queer?
“Queer” as a word encompasses a lot more than any acronym ever could. It reflects the fact that for a lot of the stories we share, there isn’t one perfect label we can slap on. There is a lot of gray area and we never want to erase that, so queer is really the perfect word.
Have you covered [name]?
Check our website, if you don’t find it, then we haven’t written about them, and we are always taking suggestions so please send us their name!
What books about queer history do you recommend?
Most of my favourites are a part of our Making Queer History Book Club, and you can find them here (affiliate link below):
But if you are looking for a more specific recommendation please ask, I am always reading something and my list of favourites is always growing.
Where can I find [fill in the blank]?
Our website. This tumblr is only a social media, and doesn’t have everything we have done, so please check out our website if you are looking for something specific.
How can I support the project?
Reblogs are great, we love getting emails, if you are looking to support us financially we have a patreon:
and a paypal for one-time donations:
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Meet Sappho, the renowned Poetess from Lesbos.
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DEAD POETS SOCIETY: Costume analysis and Historical Context (Part One)
Part Two - Uniform & Non-Conformity | Part Three - Casual Wear, Chris & the Play
Look, this is a long, long post I put together throughout this week as an insomnia project. Actually, just think of all my long posts as my version of Gansey’s mini Henrietta model in trc. Useless passion projects.
The opening shots establish the context of Welton. We are shown a Mother fixing the uniform of a young boy. However, this is not quite the expected display of maternal fussing, it is the perfecting of a performance, and this is conveyed through costume.
The mother is only visible by her gloves as she straightens her son's tie and collar. This focus on formal dress emphasises a level of detachment in their relationship as there is no skin-on-skin contact (something promoted for new mothers and their babies).
This is reinforced by the accompanying dialogue, "keep your shoulders back." Immediately, all concern for the student is centred on the presentation of his uniform as a representation of both his family and his school. Thus, the Welton uniform is shown as restrictive. It is a symbol of both the expectations and the weight of tradition which is impressed on the children required to wear it as they learn to uphold the inherited image of excellence.
There is no individuality amongst the students in this assembly. As the camera pans over the Chapel we are shown hundreds of almost identical boys in a sea of black blazers, white shirts, and striped ties.
The tone of tradition - the first banner to be held up to the camera - is set by the details of the ceremony, notably the use of Catholicism alongside Scottish (and potentially Irish) culture.
Most modern Catholic schools in the US were founded in the 19th century (like Welton in 1859) to accommodate the increase of Irish immigration to North America. Most schools at this time were Protestant, and in 1852, the First Plenary Council of Baltimore (a meeting of archbishops & bishops) aimed for every Catholic parish in the US to open its own religious schools.
These institutions were considered a fundamental method of preserving the values threatened by anti-Catholic bills. They formed close communities with the parents (whose financial contributions were essential) and alumni (representatives moulded by their values). For this reason, tradition and discipline became key features of these schools.
I find it interesting that the Welton procession is led by students in traditional kilts (part of both Irish and Scottish heritage) who play 'Scotland the brave' on bagpipes. The headmaster, Mr. Nolan, has an Irish name meaning 'noble.' These hallmarks of older (and primarily Catholic) cultures add to the oppressive weight of history felt in the Chapel setting.
This general atmosphere is then visually broken down to focus on how it affects the main characters.
Cameron holds the first banner with 'tradition' which highlights its relevance to his individual character arc. He is arguably the one who struggles most with his relationship to tradition, ultimately falling back on it for a sense of safety after Neil's death.
The next poet in line is Knox holding 'discipline.' Knox's main struggle is achieving a balance between two unhealthy extremes. He declares, 'I've been calm all my life," before gaining the courage to ring Chris, and this reflects the rigidity he's always known. However, his supposedly romantic storyline highlights how Knox abandons all necessary self-discipline as he learns the freedom of Carpe Diem.
Finally, is Neil with 'excellence,' foreshadowing how trapped he becomes by his reputation as a model student, and by the expectations of authority figures. This is consolidated at the end of the ceremony when Nolan says, "we expect great things from you this year," and Mr. Perry replies, "he won't disappoint." By jumping in to reply for his son, Mr. Perry asserts his authority over Neil while also showing that his son's achievements are (in his view) inextricably tied to his own.
'Honour,' the final banner, is not held by any of the dead poets. This indicates that none of the main characters feels a sense of honour in themselves, the school, or its traditions and values.
Each teacher wears full academic regalia, a long black gown with a coloured hood denoting their subject of study. This strict adherence to academia indicates the prestige of Welton Academy and the high standard of education that its individual staff has received.
Keating and McAllister both wear white around their necks to signify the study of the arts and humanities.
Nolan also wears a medallion to signify his status as headmaster. This is often an element of formal dress worn by college presidents, which shows Nolan's connection to the Ivy Leagues (where he boasts many of his students attend). Mr. Nolan also has velvet around the neck of the gown to signify a doctorate.
Each teacher also has a coloured trim on their gowns that I can't find the official meaning of. Some staff, like McAllister, have a matching hood and ribbon trim. Others, like Keating, do not as his hood is white and the ribbon trim is purple.
Historically, purple has been a colour reserved for the clothing of royalty or those with power and wealth. In modern history, purple began to be perceived as a colour of creativity and wisdom. By dressing only Keating in subtle hints of purple, this introduction to his character hints at the leadership and wealth of knowledge he provides for the dead poets.
Keating is also shown in a light purple shirt during class, which I mention in part two.
I do also want to note (for the purpose of Keating as a queer-friendly figure) that purple is a colour that carries significance within LGBTQ+ history and literature:
The flower is mentioned frequently in Sappho's fragments and has been used as wlw code
During the 1920s, 'violet' was a slang term for lesbians
Édouard Bourdet's play 'The Captive' (1926) was censored for its lesbian themes, including a female character sending violets to another female as a symbol of her love. There was a trend in Paris of people wearing violets on their lapels in support of Bourdet's play
The derogatory term 'a streak of lavender' was used to describe men whose masculinity did not match social expectations, hinting that he may be a homosexual, known as a 'lavender boy'
In the 1970s, sapphic feminists, such as Rita Mae Brown, wore t-shirts with the slogan 'The Lavender Menace' as a protest until they were admitted to mainstream feminist circles. This was a response to the well-known feminist author, Betty Friedan, claiming that lesbians were a 'lavender menace' who would undermine feminist efforts
The Lavender Scare
A lesser-known branch of McCarthyism under Senator Joseph McCarthy, most well-known for his anti-communist 'red-scare.'
McCarthy led a very public campaign to rid the government of 'communists and homosexuals' who were considered to be a threat to morality and to national security
Thousands lost their jobs despite a subcommittee investigation concluding that there was no evidence suggesting gay or lesbian civil servants had been blackmailed into betraying state secrets
Purple and its developing association with queerness
The invention of synthetic purple dye in the mid-nineteenth century caused the colour to become widely available. Historically, the colour had been expensive due to its source from a species of snail found in modern-day Lebanon. Until the 1850s, it had been a colour reserved for royals and the wealthy
In the late-nineteenth century, purple clothing became highly fashionable due to its new availability and novelty. As the movement of Aestheticism arose, purple became a popular colour amongst the Aesthetes who many deemed effeminate, or associated with Oscar Wilde and his 'purple hours' of drink and relations with men. Thus, purple began to be associated with a subculture many queer men participated in, and eventually with the queer community
(My A-level American History course)
Catholic Schools in the US: here and here and the Plenary Council
Anti-Catholicism in the US: here and here
Academic Regalia: here and here
The Lavender Menace
The Lavender Scare
Lavender as an LGBTQ symbol
The history of purple dye
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Go Girls Go! | First Dyke March in Washington DC, 1993
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A message from Mr X
Follow my Instagram @MrAdriannn
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you gonna bac up your claim that cisgender straight people who lack sexual attraction have always been queer? or is speaking out your ass all you can do
Sure! Let's go! I'm always up to stretch both my lgbt history muscles. Sorry if it took awhile but I am passionate about this stuff and wanted to do some good writing and find some really great sources for you! 😊
In 1869 a humanitarian and journalist named Karl-Maria Kertbeny published pamphlets to oppose the sodomy law in Prussia. In these pamphlet he is widely regarded as beginning the terms "homosexual" and "heterosexual" in the academic mainstream; though, it is likely these were lgbt terms used long before that time. In this same pamphlet advocating explicitly for gay rights, Kertbeny refers to those who engage only in masturbation and not in sex with others as seperate from straight people, coining an entirely different term: "monosexual." Now, this term is outdated and widely used the m-spec sub community to refer to straight, gay, and lesbian folks lacking multi-gender attraction, but he states very explicitly in all his work that this term is meant to refer to people we would now understand to be asexual.
A little later, in the 1890's we have sexologist, founder of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, and an openly gay man himself, Magnus Hirschfeld. He published his work "Sappho and Sokrates": a pamphlet he wrote with the task of explaining the lgbt community to straight people. He makes multiple references to and defences of what he called "anesthesia sexuals." Again, an outdated term, but as you can see, both gay advocates and straight allies referenced us as being part of the community like it was nothing.
Meanwhile, we have the lovely Emma Trosse, an academic peer to Hirschfeld. She discussed gay rights—especially the rights of lesbians and non-binary people—very openly and wrote multiple papers on the subject. But at her heart, Trosse was a researcher, and so her most famous work, naturally, was an indepth study of what she referred to as "counter-sexualities" as stand in for what we now know as the broader lgbt community. In this work she coins the phrase Asensuality, stating "the author has the courage to admit to this category" officially coming out in her own study! Damn lady! We love her. The Schwules Museum (literally the Gay Museum), a famous German LGBTQ+ museum dedicated to collections focusing on the history of lgbt research, features her work prominently. She also holds the distinction of having been banned as a "degenerate" author in Austria-Hungary, the German Empire, and Russia for that very work. On top of that, she was the first woman on record to have a treatise in defense of lgbt people and our community published in 1895, even before her colleague Hirschfeld had his first works published.
As you can see 19th century Germany was a hub of lgbt theory, research, and activism still studied by lgbt historians today. It is widely credited as being a period of time that brought our history into print and the mainstream. And ace people, as I noted before, have been involved both in mention and in activism from the beginning according to both prominent allies, gay folks, and ace folks who were scholars during this period.
But, now lets move over with a bigger hop to the sexual revolution in America; which mirrored the German one in many ways! This is the period of time a lot of people, especially americans, think of as the start of our mainstream history—which as you can see a very americancentric idea, but I digress. Even here we have asexuals represented among the community by diverse members of the community.
You've probably heard of the Asexual Manifesto, written by Lisa Orlando and published by the New York Radical Feminists. A very important document to ace-spec people, it defines us as a sexuality seperate and distinct from straight; but you aren't interested in what we have to say about ourselves and our experiences so lets move on to other lgbt people validating us.
Kinsey—himself an m-spec or multisexual person—recognized us in his research, which he picked up from at the point our lovely Hirschfeld left off, basically. This was later expanded on by Michael D Storm, author of Theories of Sexual Orientation. He reimagined the Kinsey Scale as a two dimensional map, which became the beginnings of the modern Kinsey Scale used in the lgbt community today. He posited it was better able to distinguish asexuals from m-spec people as it defined them less based on sexual preferences, or lack their of, based in gender (which would put both sexualities squarely in the centre of the 1D scale), and more on their self described experiences of attraction. So that's right, you read correctly; the latest rendition of the Kinsey Scale was created in response to a piece that was published after Kinsey's original studies specifically to better include asexuals who were already featured in the study and scale.
Then we move to the "The Sexually Oppressed." Published in 1977, it was a book that did exactly what it set out to do: describe people who were oppressed by heteronormative society and their struggles. It was published by social worker, Harvey L. Gochros and featured the work of Myra T. Johnson in a piece describing the way in which mainstream culture affected asexual women specifically, and how straight feminists often shamed and gatekept them from liberating movements, while straight men continued to be an omnipresent threat via corrective assault and forced institutionalization. It was actually a text book in my college, very good read—goes into the ableism present in sexual oppression as well. I highly recommend it.
Also, just as a bonus, I've included an extra link below to "On the Racialization of Asexuality" by Ianna Hawkins Owen. She goes into depths about how the allosexual vs asexual discourse we see starting in America in the 70's—which has turned into the modern global "ace discourse" of today—started with nationalist discussions that have their roots in white supremacy, the white construction of binary womanhood, and chattel slavery. An offering from my university days.
Anyways, I hope you and any other lovely readers who come across this enjoy and educate yourselves a bit. Knowledge is power!
P.S. I could not find "The Sexually Oppressed" available online for some reason (but mind you, I am very bad at computers) so I linked a website that should show you the nearest library in your area that carries it. It's a very popular social work read.
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the drag explosion: new york city’s drag scene of the 1980s and 90s
photos by linda simpson — thedragexplosion.com
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My obsession? Edwardian lesbians
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A gay couple and a lesbian couple outside the bank, Idaho, United States, 1941 by Russell Lee.
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September Book Club
(Bookshop.org affiliate link bellow)
We Have Always Been Here
How do you find yourself when the world tells you that you don't exist? Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger.
When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space--in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit--became dire. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved.
So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along. A triumphant memoir of forgiveness and family, both chosen and not, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one's truest self.
(Libro.fm Affiliate Link Below)
Read it on Libro.fm
We will have our discussion on Discord on September 25th
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Happy Pride eve! We are putting the finishing touches on our first episode for pride month, talking about activist Simon Nkoli and the first South African Pride!
[Image: Simon Nkoli, a black South African man, wearing a shirt with a pink triangle which reads “No liberation without gay-lesbian liberation”]
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Vintage pinback buttons originally available for order in the zine Gendertrash From Hell | 1990s
Edit: The top rightmost pin was actually created independently by Bruce Eakin and became part of Gendertrash co-creator Mirha Soleil-Ross’ personal pin collection - not available for order in GFH.
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Pride, New York City, 1977 © Meryl Meisler
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Ian McKellan speaking at a Stonewall UK protest against Thatcher’s Section 28 of the Local Government Act, 1989.
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Idk why there’s so much discourse about how creators executed lgbtq+ characters and storylines in animation (especially when it comes to content on cable). Like, did y’all have other shit to watch or something? Was there a whole bunch of queer media to indulge in that I missed or something?
Not to be an Old Bitch on main, but in 2011, when Adventure Time aired “What was Missing” and Marceline dropped that broken hearted love song, there was NOTHING else like it. Like that shit changed the game! Everyone was collectively surprised that a major network would even HINT at giving us a queer character. (And the reason it didn’t get bigger sooner was because of Capitalism, babe.)
Then like years later we got more game changing shit at an exponential rate (working alongside game changing legal and social achievements off air) like Korrasami in 2014(hella hindered by the network cuz of Capitalism), Ruby/Sapphire in 2015, a bunch of other stuff I missed cuz I was busy, until we finally got the blockbuster Bubbline on screen kiss and the Ruby/Sapphire wedding. Each one of these moments was equally game changing And Screwed By The Network.
Nickelodeon was hella meddling and underfunding Legend of Korra throughout its run and Especially during the last season when they made Korrasami canon because Nick didn’t want to lose viewership in certain regions (cuz money), which resulted in the last season ending Like That™. Iirc something similar happened with shows on CN and other networks, so it’s not an isolated phenomenon.
Personally, I don’t understand all the anger toward Steven Universe. I didn’t understand it while it was on air and I still don’t understand it now. Cuz looking at the landscape at the time, again I ask, Y’ALL HAD OPTIONS??? Cuz iirc queer programming on other networks were either behind a paywall (Netflix queer shit) or wasn’t Rated E for Everyone (Clexa and Copphine). Plus this was the only series out there explaining nb/bigender/they/them concepts to a wide audience. Like I was able to forgive and forget the fact that it didn’t show Every queer ID and whatever else they didn’t do perfectly, because, again, there wasn’t much else available.
Honestly, I don’t see the point of comparing each program to each other because each one is doing their best and building up from where the other got. Adventure Time helped Rebecca Sugar get the platform to create Steven Universe and SU helped create the next generation of queer creators creating queer programming for major networks. #ItsAllConnected and eventually comes around to help each other out. I honest to god think that the wide acceptance of AT’s content allowed SU to give us Ruby/Sapphire and the success of SU’s queerness allowed us the opportunity to canonize Bubbline.
Anyway, tl;dr calm down, be patient, be understanding, and for the love of god stop bullying content creators cuz they’re doing their best to give us everything we need.
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just leaving this here re: that last post I commented on
(obviously YMMV based on location and era, but broadly I’ve found it to be a real Thing in a lot of situations)
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10 LGBT+ classic rock stars that aren't Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, or Elton John
Pete is best known as the tall, short tempered energetic guitarist and writer of almost all of the songs by The Who. He was the member who came up with their trademark move of smashing the instruments at the end of each show, and became a voice for youth at the time with one of their many hits 'Talkin 'Bout My Generation.' He came out in his memoir as well as an interview in 1989, saying he was bisexual, and also said he identified as both a woman and a man, saying: "I know how if feels to be a woman because I am a woman, and I won't be classified as just a man."
Lead singer and writer for the band Blondie, she's a bisexual woman well known for her colourful taste in fashion and unmistakable voice. Her musical career started out in the punk genre but she is best known for writing and singing some of the most popular new wave songs including Heart of Glass, Call Me, and One Way or Another.
Often cited as the face of American blues, folk, soul and rock, Janis Joplin is WLW and had numerous relationships with men and women in her life. She was famed for her distinctive husky voice and powerful and captivating stage presence that left audiences stunned.
The guitarist in 60s British invasion group The Kinks revealed he was bisexual in his autobiography in 1997. The more outgoing of the Davies brothers in the band, of which he had a difficult and fiery relationship with, Dave also experimented with makeup and women's clothing in the 60s and 70s. Many people claim his riffs were the very earliest beginnings of heavy metal.
Sir Ray Davies
Ray Davies wrote and sung most of The Kink's songs, including their most successful song Lola, which is about a transgender woman. Although quieter and more laid back than his brother, he does not have a quiet tongue either. His endless brotherly quarrels with Dave continue to this day, although they live next door to one another. He is MLM.
As well as playing Bass for the late 80s indie rock band The Pixies and fronting the 90s band The Breeders, Kim Deal has studied and worked in cellular biology. She has said that she is asexual and also identifies as a feminist. Kim Deal has a unique philosophy in recording music, in that she uses no modern means of production such as digital recording, computers, and auto tuning.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Recognised as the inventor of rock and roll, Tharpe was a pioneer for combining blues and gospel to create a unique sound partnered with her electric guitar as early as the late 30s. She is WLW. Her relationship with Marie Knight became a controversial topic when it was discovered by the public, especially from her religious background.
Singer and songwriter of the popular heavy metal band Judas Priest, Rob was initially uneasy about coming out as gay due to heavy metal's often homophobic following, but was surprised when he was overwhelmingly supported. He now calls himself the 'stately homo of heavy metal' and speaks openly about the ongoing struggles that LGBT+ people face.
In 1971, a tiny 5"4 Marc Boland performed in his band T-Rex on Top Of The Pops wearing glitter under his eyes. This is widely recognised as the starting point of the glam rock movement. He had relationships with men and women in his life, and came out as bisexual in 1975. He was Jewish and he became a style icon of the 70s for his corkscrew hair, colourful fashion and whimsical happy-go-lucky attitude.
Lou Reed's infamously dry humour and deadpan voice set him apart from other rock stars of his time. As a child his parents put him in a mental hospital and he was given electric shock therapy to try and 'cure' his interest in men. He grew in popularity in the 60s as The Velvet Underground's lead singer and guitarist and went on to have a successful solo career, where he frequently wrote and sung about LGBT people. Reed is MLM and also Jewish!
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"Cyclists Are Advised to Dismount", c. 1940's.
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