What do you think is the biggest pitfall of historical analysis, both in the study of history as a whole, but also the study of queer history specifically?
That is a big question, but I am excited to try and answer it.
I think in my experience the biggest pitfall of historical analysis (with an emphasis on queer history) is probably people assuming there is only one way to study and learn about history.
Especially within the queer population, there can be a huge gap in levels of education and in my job I often find the more educated people making queer history completely inaccessible to the less educated.
This can be completely unintentional but a lot of the study of history, queer history, in particular, is surrounded by this academic jargon that makes it hard for anyone who isn’t surrounded by academia to understand.
Then from there we can see the price of learning about queer history can become quite high, both literally and figuratively. To have access to your history as a queer person demands a lot of time in researching, buying a lot of incredibly expensive books (no shade at any author, but as an org that spends most of the money we earn on research materials, the bills stack up) and even if you look on the internet, so much of the information is behind a paywall.
This isn’t any one person’s fault of course, and there are a lot of great projects working to make history more accessible. But with queer history, there are already so few resources, so to find free, accessible, and readable work becomes pretty hard. And even if you do find the time, there are a lot of really condescending people within the field who demand you know about every aspect of queer history (even though they themselves only know American/English queer history) or they deem you not good enough to sit at the table.
There is actually a pretty recent example of this that really got under my skin, there was this huge fuss thrown within the queer history community over this silly article that said queer history isn’t that important. Which of course is a bad thing to say. But then you got these response pieces saying that if any queer person didn’t know all about their history they were a Bad Queer as if that wasn’t the most privileged statement ever.
And again all these pieces sited Stonewall as the MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT IN QUEER HISTORY, which is always frustrating for me. And a lot of historians think this way which is really kind of gross.
I find that way too often instead of meeting queer people who don’t know a lot about queer history where they are at and working to make that knowledge accessible, people put impossible standards on queer people and effectively make it almost impossible for them to ever learn their history.
So I guess when you boil it all down, my answer would probably be elitism. Something that the queer community likes to pretend we have never participated in and in that way it becomes our blind spot and we often become the worst offenders.