If you ever want to rant (I think you have in the past??) about the specific issues surrounding language in history when describing queer romance (aka Chopin's friend issue) I know I would love to hear it at least
Oh boy. It's. It's a lot.
So, first of all, in case anyone didn't read my blog description or is very very new here, I'm a gay woman. And a big history geek. Which means I really do get how frustrating- even infuriating -the erasure of queer people from history can be. It has been, and unfortunately continues to be, a massive stumbling-block in society's recognition of LGBT identities as an inherent, universal part of humanity.
Moreover, it just makes you feel really, really alone. To think there was never anyone like you before the 1960s...yes, that's incredibly disheartening.
However. I'm also a museum professional. So I also get how careful we have to be when talking about the past.
The terms people use for queer identities have a history of shifting around a lot. And, for a large chunk of at least western history, same-sex attraction in particular was less an identity and more a behavior. Something you did, not something you were. So in expressing these feelings, people might be less likely to label themselves than to just talk about what they were doing. Which means we don't even have preferred labels for them during their lifetimes, much less within the modern framework of queer identity.
Complicating things still further, the old Straight 1950s Historian rallying cry of "FRIENDS WERE MORE AFFECTIONATE BACK THEN!!!" is actually true. I mean, yeah, in some contexts it's a silencing tactic used to erase obviously queer relationships. But it's also just a real fact about western platonic friendships, for a long time. I have seen a lot of 19th-century primary sources to indicate that, yes, a woman could kiss her literal platonic female BFF on the lips and not have it mean anything sexual or romantic. In some eras and places, that applied to men, too. Pointing that out in the proper context is not erasing queer lives, because there are no known queer people involved.
And let's talk about "friend." The r/sapphoandherfriend crowd gets VERY torqued about this one. Let anybody with any hint of same-gender romance/sexuality be called the "friend" of someone they had a relationship with, and the gates of hell are flung wide. Again, this is another one that CAN be erasure, but definitely isn't always.
Straight married couples used to refer to each other as "my friend" or "my dearest friend" or whatever, all the time. Obviously society wouldn't use that term for them, except in poetic descriptions. But if you have a culture where "friend" can have connotations beyond "platonic bestie," you just might get queer couples also applying it to each other. And at that point, it might well be the only term we know for sure a given couple used. So what are we supposed to do but use their terms, describe what they did, and let the reader interpret that information?
"But you can tell what they'd call themselves today!" Sometimes. Sometimes we can't.
Anne Lister, for example, clearly and exclusively loved women. She also incorporated masculine elements into her gender presentation, sometimes used "male" nicknames, and felt strongly about that. We use she/her pronouns for her now, and call her a woman, because that's how she referred to herself. But given the modern spectrum of available terms and identities, would she still think of herself the same way? We don't know. All we can do is use the information these people give us, and their chosen self-descriptors, unless it's EXTREMELY clear-cut.
Finally, as a queer person working in the historical sector, it's incredibly depressing to me to see other queer people talking about how "historians erase queer identity" as a blanket statement. Because we're here! We're real! We're trying our best to uncover and amplify the stories of our ancestors, because we know how awful erasure feels! Don't minimize our work like that.
And don't say you want acknowledgment of queer people in history, then turn around and shit on it because it doesn't always fit into neat, modern Identity Boxes.
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Happy birthday to Claude Cahun! Born on October 25, 1894, Claude was a French Jewish surrealist photographer and writer. During WWII, they were part of the anti-Nazi resistance on the island of Jersey.
They said of their gender “Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me."
[Image: source; 1928 self-portrait of Claude Cahun, standing in front of a mirror which shows their reflection.]
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Would you be interested in covering the history of neopronouns? They’re a lot older than people think they are, typically.
I asked the Making Gay History podcast if they would cover it and completely got brushed off because “we don’t cover such recent history,” even though I pointed out that neos are much older than Stonewall, which they just did a spread on.
I just... want to see myself in history, and as a genderfluid ace person who uses neopronouns, I haven’t been able to do that with the queer history I see on tumblr and in podcasts.
(I haven’t listened to your episodes though, so if you have episodes dealing with any of that, please lmk.)
So to reiterate: any thought on digging up the history of neopronouns?
Thank you for the question! I would love to cover neopronouns, you are completely right they have a long and illustrious history that deserve time and discussion. I will say, queer linguistics aren’t my particular area of expertise, but I will bring up the possibility to Dean, the project’s editor, who might be a better fit for the type of article you’re looking for.
All of that being said, I would personally love to cover an individual who used neopronouns from history, the regular restrictions of the project apply, not from America/Britain, and not alive, but otherwise if anyone has any names, please feel free to share!
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I will willingly admit that thomas isn't really the nicest person to most people.
However as a queer person who until recently was in the closed, I understand. Having to hide such a large part of yourself from the people around you is so difficult, and it can make you a really bitter person, and I'm living in a time/place where being me is legal, thomas wasn't.
He had to live with the fear of being discovered while constantly having to hide his true feelings, all whilst being constantly told he's disgusting, wrong and lives in a repulsive world, to quote Carson. So maybe he was cruel to everyone else, especially in the earlier seasons, but really cruelest to himself.
And incase anyone says, yes I know he's fictional, but there were so many thousands of people in a similar situation that need to be remembered.
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Okay so it's 2 am and I'm a sleep-deprived queer with insomnia so I'm going to show you my headcanons on gender/pronouns and sexuality that I think some Sherlock Holmes characters would have.
(I say "would" because gender and sexuality weren't studied, much less discussed at that time, so they couldn't explore it very deeply)
[Can be interpreted as canon ACD Sherlock Holmes or Granada Holmes]:
• Sherlock Holmes: "He/they" or "he/him", but wouldn't mind being called by "she" | gay and demisexual
• Dr Watson: "He/him" | bisexual
• Mycroft Holmes: "They/he" | aromatic and asexual
• Irene Adler: "She/he" | bisexual
• Moriarty: "He/they" | gay
Thats it thats the post :,D bye
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This is Doris Pollas, the cofounder of the organisation now known as lgbt+ Denmark which by being founded in 1948 is one of the oldest if not the oldest queer organisation in the world.
Doris lived in a farm in Jutland as a child. She was always butch and figured out she was a lesbian in her teens. When she heard about a club in copenhagen where boys kissed boys and girls kissed girls she went just some months after and it was through that club she started a paper connecting queer people all up to seventies and co founded lgbt+ Denmark.
She is now 97 year and wishes for every queer person to have an as loving and accepting family as she did.
I don’t see a lot of older gays from my country, so learning about Doris, a masc lesbian, was really nice.
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queer is literally a slur. like you’ve never been called that in a derogatory context like most lgbt people? you think your experiences escaping homophobia make it okay to justify the use of a homophobic slur?
queer is an identity.
it has also been used as a slur. there is no denying that. but using a word as a slur does not make it a slur. because before queer is a slur it is an identity. before it is derogatory it is a label. the use of queer as an identity is infinitely more important than the use of queer as a slur because the people who identify as queer are infinitely more important than the people who use queer as a slur.
say a lot of people decided they hated me. despised me. were disgusted by me to the point where my own name became a slur. would you tell me not to say it? would you tell me i could no longer be helena, and instead must come up with a euphemism for the name that belonged to me decades before it belonged in the mouths of bigots?
because that would make you an enabler.
you would tell me i can’t say my name anymore because some lowlife decided he could use it to insult me?
you would tell a gay man that he can’t be gay anymore because some teens in the early 2000’s started calling everything they didn’t like “gay”, and now he has to say “same sex oriented male identifying individual”?
does that enrage you? because it should. that’s exactly how you sound.
you are telling me i cannot use my label. you are telling me that when my great-uncle shouted until his face was red and he spat tobacco and the word queer at my feet, he was right. he was right to insult me, and i was wrong to say my name.
you are shitting on every single one of our predecessors. you are slandering every person who fought for their rights to exist and and be tolerated and be celebrated in their countries, every person who was lost to the aids epidemic, every person whose country criminalizes love and gender expression, every child whose parents abandoned them for straying from the norm, every person who was born and will die in the closet longing to be themselves. the queer umbrella is a safety net, a security blanket, the comfort of being known without being pressured to tell. it is near and dear and important as fuck to every member of the lgbt+ community and you are a blight upon the earth you walk.
how dare you speak upon my experiences with homophobia. how dare you disguise your own homophobia as activism. and how fucking dare you have the audacity to come to my blog and hide behind an anonymous ask and preach to me about how i’m oppressing myself. go look at the fucking wikipedia page for queer and read about how 1980s lgbt+ activists, especially lgbt+ people of color, fought to call themselves queer in a world that still hates peculiar things. and here you are forty years later spitting queer back at their feet.
i don’t give a fuck if people start using my name as a slur. my name is still helena. i will not change it. i chose it, i like it, and it belongs to me. it does not belong to bigots no matter how badly they want it. your discomfort with my identity is not my fucking problem.
i am helena. i am queer. die mad & go fuck yourself
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Sometimes I think about lesbian icon renée vivien laughing so hard she had to leave a lecture bc the man was talking about how a book of anonymously published love poetry was the pinnacle depiction of a young man's desire towards women...... but it was her book. She wrote it. About her girlfriend.
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Go Girls Go! | First Dyke March in Washington DC, 1993
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A comic adaptation of Zoe Leonard’s “I want a dyke for president” (1992)
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Historical Trans Men
1. Dr. James Barry, 1789-1865, military surgeon
2. "One-Eyed" Charley Parkhurst, 1812-1879, stagecoach driver
3. Ralph Kerwineo, 1876-1932, clerk
4. Harry Allen, 1882-1922, vagrant and criminal
5. Amelio Robles Ávila, 1889-1984, military commander during the Mexican Revolution
6. Victor Barker, 1895-1960, restaurant proprietor
7. Zdeněk Koubek, 1913-1986, track athlete
8. Billy Tipton, 1914-1989, jazz musician
9. Willmer "Little Ax" M. Broadnax, 1916-1992, jazz musician
10. Jim McHarris, 1924-?, auto mechanic
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Historian and filmmaker Louisa Wei uncovered one remarkably blasé, even laudatory, comment about Eng's gender presentation and sexual identity in a 1938 issue of the Chinese newspaper, the Sing Tao Daily News. The reporter said that Eng's "work, address, manner, and dress," as well as her "sensibility that was completely that of a man," made her the "living proof of the possibility of same-sex love."
Wei noted that the apparent cultural acceptance of Eng's same-sex relationships and masculine gender presentation may have been due, in part, to the popularity of "all-female opera troupes with male-impersonating actresses" in the 1930s. But that culture was far different from the one in which Eng found herself after returning to the U.S. in the 1940s.
Despite the homophobic fever suffusing Cold War-era American culture in the 1950s, there is no indication that Eng ever attempted to change her gender presentation to one more conventionally "feminine." Nor did she feel compelled to hide her same-sex romantic and sexual interests.
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I don’t want to detract from that post, but like- people not learning queer history is genuinely the source of so many of our problems in the queer community today.
It’s why people don’t understand the roots of the word “queer” in the first place, or why it’s important to so many people
It’s why people think “gay” is some apolitical neutral term with zero negative connotations, ever, for anyone
It’s why people actively feed into lesbian separatism, political lesbianism, and TERF movements without even knowing it
It’s why people think “LGBT” is some True Name that has never been changed, challenged, nor shaped over the years to better represent the community
It’s why people feed “who can reclaim which slurs” discourse without giving living human beings older than 25 any real consideration
It’s why people straight-up don’t know what the “drop the T” campaign was/is, or understand the troubled history between the trans community and the rest of the queer community
It’s why people don’t understand what “trans” used to mean, or how that meaning has changed over the years, or why
It’s why people don’t understand the differences between queer communities and identities by country, or often how they’re complicated by race
It’s why people don’t understand what “butch” and “femme” actually mean, the many definitions they can have, or how those labels have intersected across communities for decades now
It’s why people don’t understand the differences between the transfemme and transmascs communitys’ histories, or the differences in struggles they have- and then feed into those struggles without even realizing it
It’s why people straight-up recycle old homophobic and transphobic rhetoric, uncritically and unironically, as if they’ve discovered cool some new bigbrain hot take for the “super smart” gay kids
It’s why people treat these complicated, contradictory-sounding, or lesser-known identities like “trendy new ways to claim you’re oppressed”- without understanding the history behind those labels, and those communities, and that they’ve been here longer than any of these people have been alive.
Like... yes, we’re moving forward now. Things are changing, and in many ways, it’s for the better! But we seem to forget that most of our community was lost in the 80′s and 90′s, and those folks left a massive, gaping chasm behind.
We don’t have the same easy, communal roots to our history that we used to. And in order to rebuild that, we- the entire community- is going to have to do some work to learn it and teach it and move forward with it in mind.
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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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This pictures makes me happy
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Pride, New York City, 1977 © Meryl Meisler
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Here's how tired I am right now:
I went down a rabbit hole today and found out that early sexologist Havelock Ellis, who wrote one of the first books arguing for gay rights, was ace. (The book was Sexual Inversion, 1896.)
It took a solid three hours for my brain to realize that that's actually kind of a big deal, given that bigots love to pretend they'd accept aces if only we'd always been here, fighting alongside them.
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What if Theseus didn't slay the Minotaur..?
I feel like my art is very quickly spiraling towards Myths and Legends for inspiration and I don't mind it at all!
If you have any suggestions for what I could do next, pls leave a message for me!
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An incredible, wide-ranging collection of gorgeous photos. See the rest of the article here for more, and buy the full book here.
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Transsisters: The Journal Of Transexual Feminism Volume 1, Issue 7. Spring 1995
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