Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2016-02-03
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Historians talk Southern lesbians and respectability
AHA CONFERENCE Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2012-01-18

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


The debate about whether LGBT people should aim to be seen as "respectable" by mainstream society may seem like a new quarrel between older and younger generations but, according to historians, the fight is decades old.

The strategy of "respectability" has a deep history among Southern lesbians in particular, as they struggled to establish ways to live without interference from mainstream society. Historians tackled the topic at a recent panel at the American Historical Association Conference Jan. 5.

"The politics of respectability reconsidered" panel featured a conversation between historians on how southern lesbians have teetered the line of social acceptance in striving to be respected despite anti-gay bias.

Megan Shockley of Clemson University discussed lesbian motherhood in the South; Janet Allured of McNeese Sate University talked about fashion in feminist movements; and La Shonda Mims of the University of Georgia discussed lesbian bars in Atlanta.

The women in all three areas were often forced to choose between social acceptance and social change, said historians.

The contrast may have been especially sharp for feminists in the 1970s as moderate and radical feminists sparred on whether or not women should dress in traditionally feminine clothing in order to make other gains in society.

"For activists seeking respectability, it mattered immensely," said Allured. Many feminists dressed in traditionally-accepted women's clothing, while more radical feminists often wore pants. The contrast in fashion paralleled conflicting strategies in the push for women's rights.

However, race issues at the time often complicated the choice for lesbians to "be respectable." According to Mims, Atlanta's bar scene followed this trend, with lesbian bars that served racially-diverse crowds being viewed by White straight people as less respectable than mostly-White bars. White lesbians often followed suit, Mims said.

"For white lesbians, a nice place to go often meant a white place to go," Mims said.

In this way, the panel said, the idea of choosing to be "respectable" in order to make gains as a lesbian was often a flawed strategy.

Also, choosing to appear respectable may have had other consequences, said Shockley. When lesbian moms fought to keep their children by distancing themselves from gay-rights struggles, they may have inadvertently positioned gay rights as the opposite of respectable, contributing to anti-gay bias.

However, said Allured, those who chose "respectability" as a tactic often made gains in mainstream society not always achieved by more radical lesbians and feminists.

The bottom line, said speakers, is that the choice for Southern lesbians was never simple. Still, said historian Carolyn Herbst Lewis, the women in each instance shared a desire for respect.

"Whether they showed it or not, these women demanded to be treated as equal citizens," Lewis said.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Curious Wine named 2016 Lee Lynch Classic Award recipient 2016-02-07
Lesbian filmmakers earn Oscar nomination; film at Music Box Feb. 5-11 2016-02-04
Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago names Cecilia Horan President 2016-02-02
'Queer Brown Voices' discussed at WC&F 2016-02-02
Series with Riva Lehrer to examine intersections of disability, art, and culture 2016-02-01
Abandoned Margins: Policing the Black Female Body at Woman Made Gallery 2016-02-01
'Clandestina' offers difference -- and a cause 2016-01-31
President Obama releases statement for African American History Month 2016-01-30
Monica Raymund of Chicago Fire presents Clandestina Queer Women's Dance 2016-01-27
Report reflects increasing bisexuality 2016-01-27
Legacy Wall on display thru Jan. 29 2016-01-26
First Comes Love author at Women & Children First Feb. 11 2016-01-26
Publishing company launches with book on Audre Lorde 2016-01-26
Victory Gardens presents world premiere of Cocked by Sarah Gubbins 2016-01-25
Creating Change panel addresses Black Feminism 2016-01-25
VA revises policies on same-sex spouses; Lambda, AMPA conclude litigation 2016-01-20
Pride Films and Plays' LezPlay Film Festival, lesbian shorts by women. 2016-01-20
Hall of Fame seeks board members 2016-01-20
BOOK REVIEW Gay & Lesbian History for Kids 2016-01-20
Billie Jean King to speak Feb. 11 2016-01-20
Lesbian duo Whatismu to perform in Chicago area 2016-01-20
PASSAGES Sheila Healy 2016-01-20
Protestors drown out anti-choice rally 2016-01-17
Saturday: BYP100 to march to reclaim MLK and build Black futures 2016-01-15
Feminist group to host pro-choice rally 2016-01-14
WXRT's Hemmert to have cancer surgery 2016-01-13
Mirza protests Trump, lesbian actress makes statement 2016-01-13
Upcoming: 'Cabaret'; Travel show; Artemis show; 'Le Switch'; Dancemakers; Out at CHM 2016-01-13
Victory Gardens to present world premiere of Cocked by Sarah Gubbins 2016-01-12
Community meeting planned on Nat'l Park Service LGBTQ Heritage Initiative 2016-01-12
Affinity lights the way forward with Burning Bowl, new ED 2016-01-11
PASSAGES Feminist writer, activist Jeanne Cordova dies 2016-01-11
Affinity announces new executive director 2016-01-09
Lambda to 11th Circuit: Law prohibits discrimination against lesbian employee 2016-01-07
Local passages in 2015 2016-01-06
Lesbian couple in Amtrak film 2016-01-06
Upcoming: Burning Bowl; Sam Kirk show; Travel show; 'Cabaret'; APIs group; Dancemakers; Autos 2016-01-06
National Gay Media Association expands national reach 2016-01-05
Lesbian SLC mayor takes oath; Tutu's daughter marries partner 2016-01-05
Lesbian feminist Artemis Singers to present "Wildest Dreams" concert 2016-01-03
 



Copyright © 2016 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.