Degree Year

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

Advisor(s)

Renee Christine Romano
Annemarie Sammartino

Keywords

LGBT, LGBTQ, Queer, Homophile, Alternative press, History, Queer history, American history, Publications

Abstract

In this thesis, the author examines the role that queer-published periodicals played in the homophile era of American queer activism, roughly 1950-mid 1960s. The author argues that these periodicals operated at the intersection of identity creation, community formation, and activism. The queer press operated as a forum in which queer people could discuss what it meant to be homosexual, bisexual, lesbian, etc., and solidify an understanding of what queerness entails, leading to a more concrete definition of queerness. The creation of a queer identity based on a shared history and experiences allowed for the rise of a community based around that identity. In turn, the formation of a queer community not bound by geographic boundaries which spread across the United States created an environment in which a sustained, powerful queer activist movement could rise.

The author explores pre-homophile era queer press before detailing the early days of the homophile movement, particularly the Mattachine Society. From there, the author argues that ONE magazine created a national homophile movement and examines how it provided early models for a "homosexual journalism" which gave a platform for discourses surrounding identity, community, and activism. Finally, the author looks at Mattachine Review and The Ladder to examine how the queer press diversified and started aiming at particular audiences, which allowed for an even greater dissemination of knowledge and broadening of the homophile movement. Finally, the author discusses how the failure of these homophile-era queer publications to transition into the gay liberation era created an artificial divide exacerbated by the discourse of Stonewall as the birth of the modern gay rights movement, and asserts that the queer press remains vital to modern queer movements and communities because of its role in chronicling queer history.

Included in

History Commons

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