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USA

Includes Colonial America in what would become the USA. May also be used generally for North America if sources were not specific. See also separate tag Native America for discussions of indigenous North American cultures.

LHMP entry

This article works through a lens of the sexualization of Black identities and Black bodies, as well as how desire is constructed in Black writing. The content is not limited to writers with same-sex desire and covers up through 1930, looking at three distinct eras: antebellum, later 19th century, and Harlem Renaissance. [Note: the Harlem Renaissance is a rich historic and social era, but falls outside the time scope of the Project.]

The article begins by tackling the complicated question of the correspondence between 19th-century, intensely affectionate, same-sex friendships and current understandings of same-sex desire. Based on the emotional language (and domestic arrangements) of many 19th-century, same-sex pairs, the urge to identify these feelings and people as “homosexual” is strong. And (the question I always want to ask.) does it matter whether we can clearly categorize people in this way?

This article connects the rhetoric of manly same-sex bonds with the development of national identity and nationalism in the 18th century and later. This image of a tight-knit national brotherhood not only trivially excludes women in the history of its development, but more consciously excludes racial and cultural “others,” relying, as it does, on an image of unified identity and feelings. I’m honestly a bit confused at how it fits into a “gay and lesbian” collection, except in the thematic connection between (white) male political solidarity and homo-affective bonds.

This chapter looks at mid-20th century journalist Janet Flanner, publishing in the New Yorker under the ambiguous pen name “Genêt”, who worked in an era when being open about her homosexuality was not a practical option. But evasiveness and compartmentalization was also a feature of her life and work more generally.

This chapter tackles the question of the way in which Henry James’s The Bostonians can be considered a “lesbian novel”. The central character of Olive is clearly experiencing and motivated by same-sex desire, and critics of the work regularly dismiss it as concerning “perverse” desires, but the actual “lesbian content” is elusive when pinned down.

Like the previous paper, this one--the first in the section on “Alliances in the Household”--is not of direct relevance to the Project. It focuses on the context of an infanticide trial in early 18th century Virginia in which the accused was a prominent landowning white widow.

This chapter looks at the role that marriage (to a woman) played within the lives of trans men. We start with the biography of James William Hathaway (Ethel Kimball), born in 1882, whose life history primarily seems to be one of lawbreaking, with gender a minor note in the tune. While living as a woman in her twenties, she was arrested for forgery and then again for using the excuse of test driving an automobile to go on a joy-ride with a group of female friends. At one point during this general period she married a man.

American imperialism in the early 20th century meant the rise of models of masculinity that were not only racially coded but that expected certain types of performance with regard to militarism. This chapter looks at several trans men who either tried to manipulate those models to support the acceptance, not only of their masculinity, but of their Americanism, or who were doubly targeted due to the conflation of “foreignness” and sexual deviance.

One of the factors that allowed the people discussed in the previous chapter to find acceptance in small rural communities was the fact that they were white. Minor fictions or eccentricities that were dismissed for individuals perceived as normative white men would have had more severe consequences for those who stood outside the norm racially as well as by gender. This chapter looks at the implications that whiteness head for the acceptance of trans men at the turn of the 20th century.

In this chapter Skidmore talks about trans men who live in rural communities and small towns within the period of her study. Of the 65 cases she studies, a third lived in non-metropolitan areas and perhaps another third lived in small towns or small cities rather than major metropolitan areas. While the mythology of queer history often emphasizes urban areas as the safest and most promising location for queer lives, the trans men who lived in small towns often deliberately chose those locations, suggesting another parallel view.

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