Susan Stryker talked about how history can be
- a monument to ourselves
- a tool for future work
She was most interested in the last interpretation, and discussed it mostly through the lens of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, which she directed for five years after being a regular researcher and volunteer there.
During this talk I was thinking about how a subtheme of this conference seemed to be trans inclusion and transphobia. (Strkyer is transgender, as is Michael Waldman, who introduced her.) A woman in the audience commented on this, too, in the Q&A.
Anyway, Stryker talked about the Compton's Cafeteria riot of 1966, about which she made the documentary Screaming Queens. This instance of queer resistance to the cops took place in a tranny/gay hustler hang out in San Francisco. The riot hadn't been much known until Stryker found information about it in the Historical Center archives in the centerfold of the program for SF's first Pride Parade. Even so the Parade was billed as "Christopher St. West," based on the Stonewall Riot of 1969.
She kept using the term "homophile," which was new to me. I like this definition from the Wikipedia entry, "The word is sometimes used colloquially in the GLBT community to describe a person who identifies as straight and who is strongly attracted to GLBT individuals for social relationships and is attracted to GLBT culture and community." She seemed to be using it the way many radicals generally use the word "liberal," i.e. disparagingly. Also new to me, she referenced a delicious sounding book, Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History.
She gave some history of transgender people in America, including a statute from 1848 against public cross-dressing.
Some random notes from the margin of my memo pad:
- The CUNY Grad Center uses Mac laptops, and they have VLC, an open source video player installed on them.
- Kelly Shortandqueer keeps a spreadsheet of everyone he's given each issue of his zines to. I think that's fascinating. Partially because it speaks to the issue of control in the zines vs. blogs discussion. With blogs you cannot have that level of control, even with private accounts and the like. Also it's just plain anal/perfectionist good times.
- I have a low tolerance for conflict. In this presentation, as with all of the others I attended minus one, there was at least one person in the audience giving the presenters a hard time, either in a friendly or unfriendly manner. In Stryker's talk, it was decidedly unfriendly. The conflict had to do with whether or not The Stud (1960s San Francisco) was a psychedelic leather bar. An audience member said no. A lot. Obnoxiously.
Two more entries on GLBT ALMS to go!