Examples of Using Pop Culture as a Window on LGBTQ History￼
The fairy balls of the 19th century reveal the beginnings of gay culture and queer communities in urban areas, with elements that remain today—visible on such programs as Ru Paul’s Drag Race and Pose.
The resplendent Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s offers us a window on the intersectional nature of the Black and LGBTQ movements, with the Renaissance the first national flowering of both African American and queer culture.
Queer representation in silent and pre-Production Code films reveals how attitudes toward sex and gender nonconformists shifted from tolerance and even celebration in the 1920s to suppression and demonization in the 1930s.
Lesbian pulp novels and the homoerotic subtext of comic books in the 1940s and 1950s give insight into the rise of LGBTQ rebels in a time of conformity and invisibility.
Queer street theatre activism, from the 1960s to the 1990s, inspired Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. We chart its development from the Mattachine Society to the Compton’s riot and the Stonewall uprising to ACT UP and Queer Nation.
The independent queer cinema of the 1980s offers context for the increasingly virulent homophobia in mainstream movies in that decade (roiled by AIDS and culture wars) and how LGBTQ filmmakers made a difference.
The devastating loss of nearly an entire generation of gay and bi men and trans women to AIDS explains both the cultural and artistic disruption of the 1980s and 1990s as well as the rise of community activism.
The explosion of media visibility in the 1990s and 2000s—television, movies, plays, comic books, music, advertising, social media—documents the swift changes in public opinion when it came to LGBTQ people.
The current, more-inclusive, intersectional depictions of the queer experience—films, television, graphic novels, social media—make clear that LGBTQ stories are not just about white, middle-class men, even if that’s what’s largely been shown up to now.
The transgender cultural revolution of today opens up new ways of seeing gender, sexuality, and identity, with roots going back to the 19th century and earlier.