For Liberation and in Solidarity: Recommended Reading for LGBT Pride 2016

From the earliest marches in 1970 to this month’s events around the Bay Area and worldwide, Pride has celebrated and commemorated the LGBT community’s culture and heritage for over 40 years.

We at UC Press are honored to have published titles that recognize the past accomplishments and document the ongoing struggles of the community. As SF Pride, the largest gathering of the community in the nation, approaches, we’ve prepared a selection of books (including a few exciting upcoming titles!) to shed light on the unique experiences of LGBT individuals across just some of the many varied and diverse queer spaces.

Happy Pride, and happy reading!

Gay L.A.:
A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians

by Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons

The exhortation to “Go West!” has always sparked the American imagination. But for gays, lesbians, and transgendered people, the City of Angels provided a special home and gave rise to one of the most influential gay cultures in the world. Drawing on rare archives and photographs as well as more than three hundred interviews, Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons chart L.A.’s unique gay history, from the first missionary encounters with Native American cross-gendered “two spirits” to cross-dressing frontier women in search of their fortunes; from the bohemian freedom of early Hollywood to the explosion of gay life during World War II to the underground radicalism set off by the 1950s blacklist; and from the 1960s gay liberation movement to the creation of gay marketing in the 1990s.


Lavender and Red:
Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left

by Emily K. Hobson | Available October 2016

LGBT activism is often imagined as a self-contained struggle, inspired by but set apart from other social movements. Lavender and Red recounts a far different story: a history of queer radicals who understood their sexual liberation as intertwined with solidarity against imperialism, war, and racism. This politics was born in the late 1960s but survived well past Stonewall, forming a gay and lesbian left that flourished through the end of the Cold War. The gay and lesbian left found its center in the San Francisco Bay area, a place where sexual self-determination and revolutionary internationalism converged. Across the 1970s, its activists embraced socialist and women of color feminism and crafted queer opposition to militarism and the New Right. In the Reagan years, they challenged U.S. intervention in Central America, collaborated with their peers in Nicaragua, and mentored the first direct action against AIDS. Bringing together archival research, oral histories, and vibrant images, Emily K. Hobson rediscovers the radical queer past for a generation of activists today.


Eccentric Modernisms: Making Differences in the History of American Art
by Tirza True Latimer | Available December 2016

“What if we ascribe significance to aesthetic and social divergences rather than waving them aside as anomalous? What if we look closely at what does not appear central, or appears peripherally, or does not appear at all, viewing ellipses, outliers, absences, and outtakes as significant?” Eccentric Modernisms places queer demands on art history, tracing the relational networks connecting cosmopolitan eccentrics who cultivated discrepant strains of modernism in America during the 1930s and 1940s. Building on the author’s earlier studies of Gertrude Stein and other lesbians who participated in transatlantic cultural exchanges between the world wars, this book moves in a different direction, focusing primarily on the gay men who formed Stein’s support network and whose careers, in turn, she helped to launch, including the neo-romantic painters Pavel Tchelitchew and writer/editor Charles Henri Ford. Eccentric Modernisms shows how these “eccentric modernists” bucked trends by working collectively, reveling in disciplinary promiscuity, and sustaining creative affiliations across national and cultural boundaries.


A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability

by Jack Halberstam

(This title is part of the American Studies Now: Critical Histories of the Present series and will be available in E-book format in November 2016 and in paperback in February 2017.)

In the last decade, public discussions of transgender issues have increased exponentially. However, with this increased visibility has comes not just power, but regulation, both in favor of and against trans people. What was once regarded as an unusual or even unfortunate disorder has become an accepted articulation of gendered embodiment as well as a new site for political activism. What happened in the last few decades to prompt such an extensive rethinking of our understanding of gendered embodiment? How did a stigmatized identity become so central to US and European articulations of self? And how have people responded to the new definitions and understanding of sex and the gendered body? In Trans, Jack Halberstam explores these recent shifts in the meaning of the gendered body and representation, and explores the possibilities of a non-gendered, gender optional, or gender-hacked future.


School’s Out:
Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom

by Catherine Connell

How do gay and lesbian teachers negotiate their professional and sexual identities at work, given that these identities are constructed as mutually exclusive, even as mutually opposed? Using interviews and other ethnographic materials from Texas and California, School’s Out explores how teachers struggle to create a classroom persona that balances who they are and what’s expected of them in a climate of pervasive homophobia. Catherine Connell’s examination of the tension between the rhetoric of gay pride and the professional ethic of discretion insightfully connects and considers complicating factors, from local law and politics to gender privilege. She also describes how racialized discourses of homophobia thwart challenges to sexual injustices in schools. Written with ethnographic verve, School’s Out is essential reading for specialists and students of queer studies, gender studies, and educational politics.


Plane Queer:
Labor, Sexuality, and AIDS in the History of Male Flight Attendants

by Phil Tiemeyer

In this vibrant new history, Phil Tiemeyer details the history of men working as flight attendants. Beginning with the founding of the profession in the late 1920s and continuing into the post-September 11 era, Plane Queer examines the history of men who joined workplaces customarily identified as female-oriented. It examines the various hardships these men faced at work, paying particular attention to the conflation of gender-based, sexuality-based, and AIDS-based discrimination. Tiemeyer also examines how this heavily gay-identified group of workers created an important place for gay men to come out, garner acceptance from their fellow workers, fight homophobia and AIDS phobia, and advocate for LGBT civil rights. All the while, male flight attendants facilitated key breakthroughs in gender-based civil rights law, including an important expansion of the ways that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act would protect workers from sex discrimination. Throughout their history, men working as flight attendants helped evolve an industry often identified with American adventuring, technological innovation, and economic power into a queer space.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

Without teachers and educators, where would the world be?

University of California Press is honored to collaborate with university professors who serve as authors of outstanding scholarship. The work of addressing society’s core challenges can be accelerated when scholarship assumes its role as an agent of engagement and democracy.

To that end we take a moment to celebrate our authors’ and professors’ contributions to our society. The following are just some titles that share how teachers make a difference in our world, everyday.  

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day! #TeacherAppreciationDay


Grit and Hope: A Year with Five Latino Students and the Program That Helped Them Aim for College by Barbara Davenport

Grit and Hope tells the story of five inner-city Hispanic students who start their college applications in the midst of the country’s worst recession and of Reality Changers, the program that aims to help them become the first in their families to go college. This year they must keep up their grades in AP courses, write compelling essays for their applications, and find scholarships to fund their dreams. The book also follows Christopher Yanov, the program’s youthful, charismatic founder in a year that’s as critical for Reality Changers’ future as it is for the seniors. Told with deep affection yet without sentimentality, Grit and Hope shows that although poverty and cultural deprivation seriously complicate youths’ efforts to launch into young adulthood, the support of a strong program makes a critical difference.

Hicks.RoadOutThe Road Out: A Teacher’s Odyssey in Poor America by Deborah Hicks

Can one teacher truly make a difference in her students’ lives when everything is working against them? Can a love for literature and learning save the most vulnerable of youth from a life of poverty? The Road Out is a gripping account of one teacher’s journey of hope and discovery with her students—girls growing up poor in a neighborhood that was once home to white Appalachian workers, and is now a ghetto. Deborah Hicks, set out to give one group of girls something she never had: a first-rate education, and a chance to live their dreams. The author’s own life story—from a poorly educated girl in a small mountain town to a Harvard-educated writer, teacher, and social advocate—infuses this chronicle with a message of hope.



School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom by Catherine Connell

How do gay and lesbian teachers negotiate their professional and sexual identities at work, given that these identities are constructed as mutually exclusive, even as mutually opposed? Using interviews and other ethnographic materials from Texas and California, School’s Out explores how teachers struggle to create a classroom persona that balances who they are and what’s expected of them in a climate of pervasive homophobia. Catherine Connell’s examination of the tension between the rhetoric of gay pride and the professional ethic of discretion insightfully connects and considers complicating factors, from local law and politics to gender privilege. She also describes how racialized discourses of homophobia thwart challenges to sexual injustices in schools. Written with ethnographic verve, School’s Out is essential reading for specialists and students of queer studies, gender studies, and educational politics.


The Separation Solution? Single-Sex Education and the New Politics of Gender Equality by Juliet A. Williams

Since the 1990s, there has been a resurgence of interest in single-sex education across the United States, and many public schools have created all-boys and all-girls classes for students in grades K through 12. The Separation Solution? provides an in-depth analysis of controversies sparked by recent efforts to separate boys and girls at school. Reviewing evidence from research studies, court cases, and hundreds of news media reports on local single-sex initiatives, Juliet Williams offers fresh insight into popular conceptions of the nature and significance of gender differences in education and beyond.




The Real School Safety Problem: The Long-Term Consequences of Harsh School Punishment by Aaron Kupchik

Schools across the U.S. look very different today than they did a generation ago. Police officers, drug-sniffing dogs, surveillance cameras, and high suspension rates have become commonplace. The Real School Safety Problem uncovers the unintended but far-reaching effects of harsh school discipline climates. Evidence shows that current school security practices may do more harm than good by broadly affecting the entire family, encouraging less civic participation in adulthood, and garnering future financial costs in the form of high rates of arrests, incarceration, and unemployment. This text presents a blueprint for reform that emphasizes problem-solving and accountability while encouraging the need to implement smarter school policies.

LGBTQ Teachers Walk a Tightrope

By Catherine Connell, author of School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom

This Q&A, originally published by Boston University Today, is posted in advance of the American Sociological Association conference in Chicago. Read the original post here, and check back every day for new posts through the end of the conference on Tuesday, August 25th. 

After interviewing and observing gay teachers in California and Texas—the former bans discrimination against gays statewide, the latter does not—Connell found that teachers sometimes can’t manage this conflict and quit the profession altogether.

Connell’s book calls for a radical rethinking of classroom culture.

Can you discuss the various strategies teachers use for navigating the conflict between sexual identity and professionalism, and the shortcomings you see in each?

Strategies fall into three basic categories that I call splitting, knitting, and quitting.

Splitters attempt to keep a strict division between their identities as teachers and as gays/lesbians. Imagine dropping off your sexual identity (and along with it, much of your personal biography) at the schoolhouse doors and trying to pick it back up at the end of the day. Knitters try to weave together their professional and sexual identities into a cohesive whole by bringing their sexual identities and politics into the classroom in different ways. Quitters find the process of splitting too arduous and the process of knitting too risky, so they leave classroom instruction by either moving into administration or out of the profession entirely.

Each has significant drawbacks. Splitters feel stressed, exhausted, and often guilty from the work of keeping their professional and personal worlds separate. Knitters put themselves at very significant risk for discrimination, harassment, and job termination. Quitters have to give up their jobs, and often their professional goals, to avoid the conflict.

school's outWhat’s the solution?

If there were federal protections in place for LGBTQ workers, it would go a long way toward lowering the stakes of disclosure for teachers who want to take that path. Further, we need to reconsider the outdated and anti-gay assumptions that underlie the expectations of teaching professionalism, which hurt not only LGBTQ teachers, but also contribute to school environments that feel unsafe and unwelcome for LGBTQ students and perpetuate homophobic and hetero-normative attitudes in their peers.

The problem doesn’t lie squarely with schools. The one-size-fits-all model of gay pride that demands disclosure is harmful in its own way. Relying on coming out as the primary mode of sexual justice is too individualistic; our focus should really be on the ways that anti-gay and anti-trans sentiment and policy are woven into the fabric of our most sacred institutions and social rituals.

How many LGBTQ teachers quit the job?

We don’t have that data, but we do know that LGBTQs face significant workplace discrimination and harassment, and that this contributes to job dissatisfaction, turnover, and underemployment of LGBTQ workers more generally. For teachers, who are held to very conservative expectations of on-the-job comportment, I would imagine these negative outcomes are amplified. In fact, teachers are under a microscope even when they aren’t on the clock; formal and informal morality clauses that dictate teachers’ public and even private behavior are still common in the profession.

Could you summarize your argument that the campaign for LGBTQ rights winds up reinforcing discrimination?

I wouldn’t say that LGBTQ rights, per se, reinforce discrimination, but I do think that some of the tactics of today’s rights campaigns further marginalize a subsection of the community. Whereas the gay liberation politics of 50 years ago embraced an ethics of difference, resistance, and revolution, the contemporary gay rights movement has taken a turn toward emphasizing sameness, normalcy, and incorporation into the status quo. LGBTQs who don’t want to—or can’t—fit into this normalizing project are not just being left behind, they’re often being told that they are the problem! Rather than discourage teachers from “acting gay” and encourage them to act and look just like their straight counterparts to get by, why can’t we question the institutional and professional norms that limit us to acting and looking just one way?

I am all for celebrating LGBTQ people! I’m just suspicious of limiting the celebratory spotlight to those who appear “normal.” I do expect that some people will feel that doing so is a necessary, strategic compromise on the road to broader rights and acceptance for all, and I respect that. I’m just perhaps more skeptical and cynical about the outcomes of such a compromise.

What do you mean when you suggest in your book that we take “more seriously the idea of children’s own sexual agency” and that “children have a right to the world of sexuality?”

Part of what sustains the pride/professionalism dilemma is the cultural assumption that children should be shielded from knowledge of LGBTQ genders/sexualities, that this knowledge will be corrupting, confusing, even dangerous for children. That assumption ignores, of course, the existence of LGBTQ children, and it also underestimates all kids’ capacities for understanding the existence of LGBTQ people. The belief that children are asexual and ignorant of sexuality is so pervasive in our culture, it’s very difficult for many of us to accept any suggestion to the contrary.

But I do believe that children should be given more credit as sexual subjects. In practice, this might mean, among other things, incorporating age-appropriate, scientifically accurate sexuality education into K-12 curriculum in ways that would both respect their right to sexual knowledge and set them up to make truly empowered and informed decisions about sex and sexuality later in life.

Connell_SchoolsOut_Author PhotoCatherine Connell is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boston University.

Despite expanding marriage rights, protection from employment discrimination continues to elude most LGBT Americans

This guest post by author Catherine Connell, School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom, considers recent developments protecting LGBT employees from discrimination.

Connell_SchoolsOut_Author Photo
Catherine Connell

With all the exciting recent news regarding changes to the legality of same-sex marriage, it can be easy to forget about other legal rights lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans are still struggling to secure, including the right to employment. Since 1974, legislators and LGBT policy advocates have tried—and thus far, failed—to pass federal nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual identity and gender expression[1]. In April 2013, the reality of employment safeguards for LGBTs seemed just within grasp, when a transgender-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the US Senate. Unfortunately, the Republican House Majority leadership prevented the bill from coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. Even worse, recent changes regarding religious exemptions for enforcing LGBT rights ordinances further threaten the patchwork of employment protections that do exist.

Now, two years later, legislators are expected to introduce a new version of ENDA sometime this month. This will be the eleventh time this bill has been introduced into Congress; until it is passed, it’s up to states and local government to provide nondiscrimination protections for their LGBT workers. At the time of this writing, one can be legally fired on the basis of sexual identity and/or gender expression in more than half of the United States.

In 2008, I interviewed gay and lesbian teachers in California, a state with strong nondiscrimination policies for LGBT workers, and in Texas, a state with only a handful of county or municipal laws that protect them. I focused my research on teachers because they are among the most vulnerable of LGBT workers. While this research focused specifically on gays and lesbians, its findings are also relevant for bisexual and especially transgender workers, who face similar—if not markedly more hostile—working conditions.

school's out
School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom

As I discuss in my book, School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom, the policy environment was a crucial factor in gay and lesbian teachers’ decision-making processes about whether and how to come out on the job. Also important were the levels of gay-friendliness in their individual schools—some schools in California could be incredibly hostile environments for gay and lesbian teachers despite a supportive policy context, just as some schools in Texas could be remarkably welcoming. Gender and race mattered, too—gender nonconforming teachers and teachers of color had to contend with more difficult coming out environments than others. That said, the differences between gay and lesbian teachers who do have sexuality nondiscrimination protections and those who don’t are striking. One teacher told me he moved to California specifically for its protections for LGBT teachers, while a Texas teacher recounted how the very public firings of an unmarried pregnant teacher and a gay teacher in her district convinced her not to disclose her sexuality to even her closest colleagues. Clearly, federal legislation like ENDA is sorely needed to help teachers feel safe at work.

Still, passing the legislation is only the first step. I also found that many teachers in both states were unaware of the protections (or lack thereof) available to them. Several teachers in California did not know about the statewide policies that prohibited their employers and coworkers from sexual identity discrimination. In Texas, more than half the teachers I interviewed were unclear on the local and statewide policy environment regarding LGBT employment. Very few knew about the existence of county or municipal protections in cities like Austin, Houston, and Forth Worth, including the teachers who worked in those areas. For example, when I asked one teacher if she knew about her local level protections, she replied, “No, I haven’t got a clue. I haven’t got a clue. I have no idea whether or not I could be fired outright by the school district for being gay.” She was not alone in her lack of awareness: more than half of the teachers who were covered at the city, county, and/or district level in Texas didn’t know about it. More visible and expansive legislation is crucial to the protection of LGBT workers—until they are informed about their legal rights, any such protections are virtually useless.

Of course, even teachers who worked in gay-friendly legal contexts and who knew their rights could be wary of disclosing their sexual identity at school. As one teacher put it, “Even in the hiring paperwork that I signed, it says they don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. But it’s just one of those things that—just because it says it, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t find other reasons, you know? So I still watch it.” Another agreed, “[the nondiscrimination law] could be overturned…or [they could] look the other way. I think principals wouldn’t support you, the administration wouldn’t support you.” While nondiscrimination policy can empower some teachers, it’s clear that more work must be done to help gay and lesbian teachers and by extension, LGBT workers more generally, feel truly protected. Still, extending employment nondiscrimination policy to include all LGBTs across the US is a crucial first step toward creating more safe and secure working conditions for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens.


Catherine Connell is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boston University.


[1] Only some of the many employment nondiscrimination bills introduced since 1974 have included protection on the basis of gender expression, which protects transgender and gender nonconforming employees.