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makingqueerhistory:

“I feel like a minority within a minority in the gay community. You’re in a subculture. In the Indian community you feel like you’re in a sub-subculture. And the paths of the gay community and the Indian community don’t even cross. I don’t want that separation. I want all of it together.”

— Leota Lone Dog

Sophia Parnok, Russia’s Sappho

Sophia Parnok, Russia’s Sappho:

makingqueerhistory:

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Why do you think it's ok to use queer as …

Why do you think it's ok to use queer as a blanket term? As a bi trans person I find it incredibly hurtful and offensive

Do you really want to know my answer? Like seriously, are you actually open to listening to what my answer may be and absorbing any new information I may offer on the topic?

Because from here it doesn’t seem like you are. 

Let’s be honest with each other, you started out with the phrase “why do you think it’s ok” which is aggressive language, and then you justified your disagreement with your identity. Which I always found to be an interesting tactic, because when this clarification exists in an argument it assumes that by having this particular set of identities you are somehow more qualified to discuss this problem than someone else, while at the same time personalizing you so it is harder for anyone to disagree with you.

You then use the words hurtful, and then offensive. Both button words that illicit a certain type of response, hurtful in how inarguable it is. That is your feeling and I would never argue what a stranger is feeling to them. Then there is offensive, which is a word that is very well used in the LGBT+ community to discuss important issues surrounding our dehumanization. 

I don’t think that this message was a carefully crafted masterpiece of debate and trickery that you spent hour figuring out the direct phrasing of obviously, but I do think you had an intent when you wrote this message and the words you chose make that intent clear. 

You don’t want to talk to me. Hell I doubt you even follow me. I have anonymous turned off on my ask box, but I am almost 100% sure that if I didn’t you would be sending this under the little sunglasses wearing icon.

Also if you checked my FAQ you would have found a helpful little link explaining to you my views on the queer discourse. You may have noticed that I have my own reasons why I decide to use that word, and my own history with it. You probably also would have seen my post saying that I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. Or you could have seen that I have a link set up that blocks the word from all my content so no one has to see it if they don’t want to, and they can still have access to the history that I give insight into. 

But you didn’t care about that did you? Because you aren’t actually interested in what I have to say, if you were you would have already seen all of this and you would have seen my request for people to stop asking me to drag out my arguments for why I use the word again and again. You probably would have realized that either A) it is a lost cause so why bother B) that I have nothing left to say on the matter that I haven’t already said and you may have respected my professional boundaries enough to leave it alone.  

But here we are, you uninformed and angry, and me annoyed and tired. We aren’t going to have a good dialogue, and I am near certain you wouldn’t have accepted one if I offered it. You are not here to change my mind, because I have to assume that you at least did a basic check to see that my entire project has the word queer in it and it is pretty clear that isn’t changing. And you are also not here to have your mind changed. 

And to be honest I have no desire to change your mind. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me on this. It actually isn’t that big of a deal to me if someone doesn’t agree with my viewpoints all the time. 

I have read a lot of arguments in favour of removing the word from our lexicon completely. I disagree, but I understand them. As I have said before, this isn’t a huge dividing point for me. 

I have given people access to my work without the word queer in it, and that is the extent of what I am going to do here. 

So why are you sending this in? Nothing is going to change from it, and honestly it is a pretty boring message so I can’t believe you thought something would.

I think the sole reason you sent this was performative. 

You wanted to show that you tried to convince that big mean queer person without actually trying to convince them. Maybe this was a performance; for your followers, maybe you will screenshot my response and share them in a group chat. Or it is also possible this is a performance for yourself, maybe you want to convince yourself that you are doing something. 

Maybe you feel ineffective or like you need to make a difference so you are sending this message to me to feel proud of yourself for trying to change something that you don’t like. 

But you aren’t doing this to actually do the hard work of changing something. 

And it is fine if you aren’t able to do that work for any reason, but leave other people out of your sense of inadequacy. I am not here to be your punching bag that you hit so you can feel big and strong.  

I am tired, and I am bored of people sending me this performative garbage.

Which of course lends itself to the question, why am I answering this publicly?

I will admit there is a little bit of performance from my side as well, I want people to see how right I am and how much this behavior sucks. I want people to see me destroying this ask, and I am not going to lie I am totally going to send screenshots to the group chat.

What makes us different, is that I didn’t seek this performance out. I clearly did not send this to myself, and I haven’t made a post about the queer discourse in months. Which means, this person had to search for me so that they could get mad at me. Whereas I just had to check my inbox this morning and respond to what was there.

But outside of the performance of it all, I want my answer to sit with you for a couple of days. I don’t care if I change your mind about the queer discourse because honestly I do not care about the queer discourse. But I do want to change something. I want you to stop sending asks like these, because this doesn’t seem like it is your first. 

And if you were just sending them to me I would be fine with it. I can delete asks, and they roll off my back if I decide to let them. But not everyone is like that. 

I could now give a rant about the little baby queers I am protecting, but it is not just about them. It is about all of the people you send this kind of thing to (who almost certainly don’t deserve hate mail), whether they are affected deeply by it or not it doesn’t make what you are doing any better. 

And if me writing this long message publicly makes it less likely for you to send something like this again, then it is worth the five minutes I have spent crafting it. Because if you are a little more self conscious about doing something like this again, then hopefully I will have spared a couple of people the annoyance of having to deal with this kind of garbage message. 

I know you don't normally answer question…

I know you don't normally answer questions, or at least I haven't seen to many. But I was curious as to your stance on historical figures that were queer but not of moral standing. Ex. Alexander Hamilton was most likely bisexual or something of that configuration, but was also a slave owner. I see a lot of lgbt+ historical icons, who are "Disqualified" because of something they did. I was just wondering how you felt about it (1/2)

(2/2) Personally, I think their being a lgbt+ historical figure should be acknowledged, but so should their downfalls so they won’t become an icon per se. I’m not really too sure how to verbalize my thoughts, but I hope that was somewhat coherent. And I’m just wondering what you as queer historians have to say on the matter

First I want to say that you did a great job of verbalizing your thoughts and I really appreciate you coming to our project to discuss this because we do have some thoughts and this is an interesting topic overall. 

We discussed this briefly in our most recent article Annemarie Schwarzenbach

In discussing her life we note this concept briefly saying: 

“We know there have been queer people who are horrible, in fact we need to look no further than one generation above Annemarie herself. Her mother, a queer woman who actively supported Nazi’s. Queer history is not clean. It is not simple, or easy, or always on the right side of the battle. Like all of history it is complex.”

And today actually I saw someone do the exact thing you were talking about in a post saying:

“can we all just pretend james buchanan wasn’t gay, i don’t want him”

So this is a real thing, and it is actually something we have dealt with a lot in our writing. In the post above I don’t think the person was seriously saying that we should pretend this historical figure isn’t queer, I believe from context and tone it is probably just a person who is venting and wants their community to be full of unproblematic people. 

But that very idea, even in a joking tone, is harmful and we should unpack it and want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to do so. 

So to begin, this phenomenon has many origins but one of the big ones is probably peoples desire to turn history into a series of Great Men. And while this theory is not directly discussing what we are about to, we believe it to be a factor in the problem. Because in the end both of these problems find their roots in attempts to simplify complex concepts/events/people in history. 

We want history to be easy, we want to look at a person and say “this person is Bad and I am in no way connected to them because I am Not Bad” but that isn’t what history is. 

History is endlessly complex, confusing, and at times frustrating. And these are often seen as “bad” emotions so we try to squish history down into more bite sized concepts so we don’t have to feel them. Make history into this battle between good and evil, where everything is simple and easily understood. 

So when people look into the history of a community, they use its members to “prove” whether the community was good or bad. Which leads to communities trying to repress the more nasty parts of their history. 

And Making Queer History is not immune to this. In fact it is something I often think about, and have in many cases failed in. I am a writer, and I do my best writing when I care about the people/subject I am discussing. So I am more likely to choose to write about someone I like than someone I don’t. 

An example of this happened last week actually. I had been thinking about this exact concept and to attempt to stop it from affecting our project too much I tried to write about Salvador Dali. A man from history I hate. And I cried.

Legitimately, I got so mad while researching this man I began crying, and I ended up writing about someone else. 

And while I did not actively deny that Salvador Dali was queer, I did in a small way contribute to the problem that leads people to do that kind of thing. 

We want to see the good side of a community we are a part of because if the community isn’t perfect our minds try to simplify that into the community is bad. So many people either react by deciding the community is bad, or by rejecting the person who stops the community from being perfect from the community, and neither of those responses are healthy. 

So yes, you are right. Denying that the “bad people” in history could have also been queer, is not accurate or good for the community as a whole. It is denying facts, it is removing nuance, and it is damaging how we view ourselves as a community.

Because when we remove these people from our history we absolve ourselves of their problems. In the case of Alexander Hamilton, we remove a racist man from our communities history because we don’t want to think about how our community has had (and still has) a problem with racism.

I like to say that just because there have been queer people who have done bad things in history, does not mean that being queer is what made them bad. But it also goes the other way, just because queer people have done amazing things in history, does not mean that we are as a whole an amazing community.

We have problems that we need to address from our history that have carried on into our present, and pretending they were not a part of our history is just another way of denying they could be a part of our present. So we need to look at these “bad people”, so we can address the problems that we had, and how we in our community can try to prevent those problems in the future.

The queer community is not inherently good or bad, because the queer community is made up of people, and each person has negative aspects and positive aspects that they bring to the table. And the community is just in the end a jumble of all of these positive and negative aspects. And the sooner we acknowledge that the sooner we can move to the next step making an environment that supports change and growth with education, and positive and negative reinforcement, instead of just throwing every person who does something wrong out of the community. 

There have been great people in our community, and there have been horrible people, and we need to look at people on either side of the spectrum, and in the middle. Because history is endlessly complex, confusing, and at times frustrating, but that is a good thing because humans are too.

makingqueerhistory: Ljuba Prenner The study of…

makingqueerhistory:

Ljuba Prenner

The study of queer history is frequently stalled by one debate: is it fair and reasonable to label a historical figure with language that did not exist while they were alive? Our project has long answered yes to this question, and we still do. We acknowledge that there is complexity in that task, and Ljuba Prenner, a Slovenian lawyer and author, is one of the clearest examples. There are layers of societal understanding, cultural differences, and personal experiences that all tie directly into how not only we see queer people but how queer people see themselves. The question we ask now is this: how many layers can be removed before you begin to erase a person’s right to self-identify? (Read full article)

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Hi ! I was wondering if you have links or what…

Hi ! I was wondering if you have links or whatever about early queer history not in the US ? Like in Europe for example ? (I'm French) but also if you have things from other continents that would be amazing, thank you !

We have a few articles you might be interested in! We very recently tagged all the article on our site with their relevant countries, and there are currently dozens of different countries!

Some of our earliest articles, no later than the 17th century:

Khnumhotep and Niankhknum, and Occam’s Razor (Egypt)

Zimri-Lim, King of Mari (Syria)

Hatshepsut (Egypt)

Sappho, the Poetess (Greece)

The Bitten Peach and the Cut Sleeve (China)

Elagabalus, the Empress (Syria & Italy)

Eleanor Rykener (England)

The Golden Orchid (China)

Catherine Bernard: A question in studying asexual history (France)

And for the heck of it, all of our articles about folks who were born in France, lived in France, or died in France can be found here.

Simon Tseko Nkoli

Simon Tseko Nkoli:

makingqueerhistory:

“If you are Black and gay in South Africa, then it really is all the same closet…inside is darkness and oppression. Outside is freedom.”

— Simon Tseko Nkoli

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Anna Freud Part I

Anna Freud Part I:

makingqueerhistory:

“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence but it comes from within. It is there all the time.” — Anna Freud

Part 2

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Reinaldo Arenas, Rewriting Castro’s Legacy

Reinaldo Arenas, Rewriting Castro’s Legacy:

makingqueerhistory:

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makingqueerhistory:

We would really appreciate small one time donations right now, so if you care about queer history and are interested in supporting this project please click here!