Queer Transnational Loyalties: Movement Building beyond the Nation-State

AHA Session 127
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History 6
Friday, January 4, 2019: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Williford B (Hilton Chicago, Third Floor)
Chet R. DeFonso, Northern Michigan University
David S. Churchill, University of Manitoba

Session Abstract

This panel advocates for the importance of thinking transnationally when writing histories of sexuality and gender. It is impossible to fully understand the histories of twentieth century homophile, gay, and feminist movements without paying attention to circulations of discourses, tactics, and activists across national borders. Physical and intellectual encounters produced ideological cross-fertilizations, politicizing and radicalizing individuals, ideas, and projects. Our papers explore the transnational relationships between Italian and Swiss homophiles, South American and Anglophone gay liberationists, and American and French representatives of the women’s liberation movements. We want to argue that such porous transnational networks produced new modes of political awareness, favored the re-imagination of new identities, and facilitated the emergence of new forms of community beyond national borders. In what ways were Italian homosexuals influenced by the activities of their “friends” on the other side of the Alps? How did encounters with American feminism impact the trajectory of radical lesbian feminism in France? To what extent did Anglophone gay liberationists support their “gay brothers and sisters” struggling against U.S.-backed fascism in South America? This panel, dealing with intra-European, trans-Atlantic, and intra-American relationships between 1950s homophiles, late 1960s feminist lesbians, and 1970s self-identified gays, will elucidate how the histories of individuals and movements were forged through transnational and transcultural encounters.
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