Chapter 2: Historical Context

The Christine Jorgenson Story (1970)

Hour Magazine interview with Christine Jorgenson (198?)

“The Homosexuals.”  CBS Reports.  (1967, March 7)

Screaming Queens:  The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria

Jack Benny and the Floor Walker

D’Emilio, J. (1998). Sexual politics, sexual communities: The making of a homosexual minority in the United States, 1940–1970. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Gross, Larry. (2002). Up from invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Jagose, A. (1996). Queer theory: An introduction. New York, NY: New York University Press.

McFadden, M.  (1993). “America’s boy friend who can’t get a date.”:  Gender, race, and the cultural work of the Jack Benny Program, 1932–1946.  The Journal of American History, 80, 113–134.

Meyerowitz, J. (1998). Sex change and the popular press: Historical notes on transsexuality in the United States, 1930–1955. A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 4(2), 159–187.

Russo, V. (1987). The celluloid closet: Homosexuality in the movies. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Streitmatter, R. (2009). From “perverts” to “fab five”: The media’s changing depiction of gay men and lesbians. New York, NY: Routledge.

Stryker, S.  (2008). Transgender History.  Berkeley, CA:  Seal Press.

Walters, S.D. (2003). All the rage: The story of gay visibility in America. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Tracing Terms

If your library or psychology department has access to multiple editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Handbook of Mental Disorders (now in its fifth edition), trace how homosexuality and gender dysphoria have been chronicled.  When did the terms (or related terms) first appear?  How were they described?  When were they removed from the handbooks?  What do these changes say about how our understandings of gender and sexual identity have changed over time?

Framing AIDS in Local News

View the local television news series Robb’s Life, which originally aired on WHBF (Rock Island, IL) in 1995–96.  The 39-part series follows Robb Dussliere through his battle with HIV/ AIDS.  Consider how the series’ focus on a single person over a period of time contributes to a particular framing (see pp. 43–44) of AIDS and its victims.  What is included in the “frame”?  What is left out?

The AIDS Crisis

The 2010s brought with them a time of memory for those who survived the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 90s.  In addition to the documentary about Vito Russo, two others chronicle the years of the AIDS crisis.  How to Survive a Plague  (2012) tells the story of gay activism, especially the work of ACT-UP, while We Were Here (2011) is a more intimate chronicle of a last generation of San Francisco told by surviving lovers, friends, and caregivers.  Each provides a glimpse into the human toll of the crisis and the legacy of gay and lesbian activism that lives on to this day.   Both films are available on Netflix streaming.  Compare the ways that these films represent the lives of people with AIDS to mainstream media depictions, including Philadelphia, also available via Netflix.  Thinking about the rich social and political networks built up to confront the disease, consider the ways that Philadelphia (1993) both captured and hid the realities of those confronting AIDS.