Saturday, July 9, 2011

Update: A People with a History

The California Assembly has just passed the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act (SB-48) by a vote of 49 to 25 which will, for the first time, mandate the teaching of GLBT contributions to American History.  According to the Executive Director for Equality California, Roland Palencia:
The FAIR Education Act will ensure that public schools acknowledge the heroism of individuals and communities who in spite of countless barriers continuously overcome adversity.  For decades, LGBT leaders have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for all Californians. LGBT leaders were heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, the farm workers' movement, the women's movement, and have built health and human services institutions that now serve millions of Californians. It is time for history to accurately depict our community's contributions.
One of the Bill's sponsors, openly Gay Sen. Mark Leno, reacted by stating that "we are selectively censoring history when we exclude LGBT Americans".  Indeed, I would have probably had more pride in myself as a Gay youth if I had learned something - anything - about Gay history and our struggle during High School, but this was purposefully kept from me.  (Iowa public schools desperately needs lessons dealing with Gay America History in their curriculum!)  It wasn't even until a few years ago that I had realized that one of the famous moments in Gay American History happened right here in Iowa.  On 14 October of 1977 Anita Bryant was asked to be a guest at a local Des Moines news program to advertise her Veterans' Day concert when a small band of Gay men from Minnesota -- led by one Thom Higgins (1950-1994) -- who seems to have been Pagan -- threw a banana cream pie at her face out of the sense of pain and deep hurt that she was causing us at that time:

Coda: But, something's occurred to me in recent days: Isn't this precisely what NOM warned parents would happen if Gay marriage were allowed in California; that parents would have no rights over keeping their kids from knowing about subjects that they deemed inappropriate for kids?  You bet they did, and in more ways than one!  (NOM even produced and broadcast the following sensational video during the anti-Gay Prop-8 Campaign.)  In fact, Fox News is even going so far as toe declare it to be propaganda aimed at "indoctrinating" school kids through tolerance and acceptance of Gay people!  Where, Maggie, is the backlash from your "organization" that the CA. FAIR Act will infringe upon your precious "religious liberties"?

For those interested in GLBT History in Iowa, in general, I recommend this fascinating website by the Iowa State University in Ames; and for GLBT History in general, I whole-heartily endorse the following literature, including the Fordham University website, A People With A History:
  • The Men with the Pink Triangle: The True Life-and-Death Story of Homosexuals in the Nazi Death Camps, by Heinz Heger: A First-person account of his time in a Nazi death camp.
  • Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol & Spirit
  • Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture, by Arthur Evans
  • Blossom of Bone: Reclaiming the Connection Between Homoeroticism and the Sacred, by Randy P. Conner
  • Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds, by Judy Grahn: A lovely book that's utterly spiritually inspiring, albeit some of what it says must be taken with a rather large pinch of salt.
  • The Reign of the Phallus, by Eva C. Keuls
  • Celtic Sexuality: Power, Paradigms, and Passion, by Peter Cherici
  • The God of Ecstasy: Sex Roles and the Madness of Dionysos, by Arthur Evans
  • Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective, by Martti Nissinen
  • Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity, by Craig A. Williams
  • Between Medieval Men: Male Friendship and Desire in Medieval English Literature, by David Clark
  • Queer Spirits: A Gay Men's Myth Book, by anthropologist Will Roscoe
  • Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-Sex Love, by Will Roscoe
  • Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, by John Boswell
  • Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century, by John Boswell: Shows us, among other things, the medieval history of the use of the word "Gay" to refer to homosexual men.
  • Homosexuality in Renaissance England, by Alan Bray
  • Gay American History: Lesbian and Gay Men in the USA: A Documentary, by Jonathan Ned Katz: An utterly brilliant source-book documenting our oppression and mistreatment by hetero-normative society.  This book is the classic!
  • The Gay Militants: How the Gay Liberation Began in America, 1969-1971: The Classic History of the Early Gay Movement, by Donn Teal: Another historical source-book filled with reprinted pamphlets from the era.
  • Stonewall, by Martin Duberman
  • The Roots of Lesbian and Gay Oppression: A Marxist View, by Bob McCubbin
  • The Path of the Green Man, by Michael Thomas Ford
  • Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions, by Randy P. Conner
  • Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
I hope that these resources help to ignite the Queer Flame within you all!

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