Queering Historical Scale, Part 1: Queer Histories of Sex Work and Sexual Commerce
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History 6
This session, which is sponsored by the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, presents comparative histories of same-sex prostitution, commerce, and performative labor in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In addition to interdisciplinary LGBTQ scholars, this panel will interest historians of sexuality, race, gender, labor, capitalism, and popular culture. Our papers also engage the conference theme of historical scale by connecting the most intimate levels of bodily transaction—both actual and representational—to large-scale historical problems of periodization, political economy, and identity. Alessio Ponzio’s “Male-Male Prostitution in 1950s-1970s Italian Fiction” analyzes representations of male prostitution in mid-twentieth century Italian fiction. He questions whether the late 1960s and early 1970s were a watershed moment in forming post-Fascist Italian sexualities. April Haynes’ “Queer Cures: Commercial Sex Therapies in Nineteenth-century New York” chronicles the rise of a predominantly male market for sexual healing. She argues that its emergence marks a queer moment between the golden age of straight brothel culture and the professionalization of sexology. Mireille Miller-Young’s “Sepia Sex Scenes: Black Women’s Erotic Labor in Early Pornographic Film” surveys black women’s performances in stag films. She argues that African American women performers of the early twentieth century worked within and against racial fetishism, performed non-heteronormative sex acts, and queered boundaries between work and play. Together these papers query established narratives concerning labor, medicine, and sexual identity politics.