Bodies of Evidence: The Practice of Queer Oral History

ISBN : 9780199742738

Nan Alamilla Boyd; Horacio N. Roque RamIrez
312 Pages
165 x 238 mm
Pub date
Apr 2012
Oxford Oral History Series
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When written sources are scarce, historians often turn to oral histories for evidence. Bodies of Evidence: The Practice of Queer Oral History is the first book to provide serious scholarly insight into the methodological practices that shape lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer oral histories. The volume opens up a critical dialogue on the challenges of creating an archive of queer lives. Highlighting the work of fourteen authors who focus their research on queer community history, culture, and politics, each chapter pairs an oral history excerpt with an original essay in which the oral historian addresses his or her methods and practices. With an afterword by the preeminent scholar in the field, John D'Emilio, this collection enables readers to examine both a series of oral histories and analysis of the role memory, desire, sexuality, and gender play in documenting LGBTQ communities and cultures. The historical themes addressed within include lesbian bar history in San Francisco (c. 1940s, 1950s); early homophile organizing and social activism in Los Angeles (c. 1950s and 1960s); Third World Liberation and feminist antiwar activism in the U.S. and Canada (c. 1960s, 1970s); electoral politics and the career of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in San Francisco (1970s); Latino AIDS memory and activism in San Francisco (1980s, 1990s); and the war in Iraq (2000s). The methodological themes addressed in this book that are relevant to the practice of oral history include questions of sexual self-disclosure and voyeurism in the uses of oral history methods by queer studies scholars; the intimacy between researcher and narrator negotiated through multiple oral history interviews and on-going casual conversations; the production of comparative racial and sexual identities within the context of oral history interviews; the production of in-group mythology by same-sexuality interviewing-and the possible benefits of cross-sexuality and cross-ideology interviewing; what heterosexually-identified narrators can tell us about LGBTQ life and death; the silences imposed by repressive U.S. government policy about sexual self-disclosure and the limits of permissible speech in highly politicized discourses such as "gays in the military." These themes provide new and insightful structures for thinking about oral history methods-both in general and in relation to the production of LGBTQ history.


Introduction: Close Encounters: The Body and Knowledge in Queer Oral History
by Horacio N. Roque Ramirez and Nan Alamilla Boyd
Part 1: Silence
Chapter 1: Sex, 'Silence,' and Audiotape: Listening for Female Same-Sex Desire in Cuba
by Carrie Hamilton
Oral history by Carrie Hamilton with "Laura," Havana, Cuba, 2005-2007
Chapter 2: Remembering Provincetown: Oral History and Narrativity at Land's End
by Karen Krahulik
Oral history by Karen Krahulik with Marguerite Beata Cook, Provincetown, Massachusetts, January 22, 1997
Chapter 3: Queer Family Stories: Learning from Oral Histories with Lesbian Mothers and Gay Fathers from the Pre-Stonewall Era
by Daniel Rivers
Oral history by Daniel Rivers with Vera Clarice Martin, Apache Junction, Arizona, September 2, 2006
Chapter 4: Spiraling Desire: Recovering the Lesbian Embodied Self in Oral History Narrative
by Jeff Friedman
Oral history by Jeff Friedman with Terry Sendgraff, San Francisco, California, November 12 and 28, and December 6, 1990
Part 2: Sex
Chapter 5: Talking About Sex: Cheryl Gonzales and Rikki Streicher Tell Their Stories
by Nan Alamilla Boyd
Oral history by Nan Alamilla Boyd with Cheryl Gonzales, San Francisco, California, February 1, 1992
oral history by Nan Alamilla Boyd with Rikki Streicher, San Francisco, California, January 22, 1992
Chapter 6: Private Lives and Public History: On Excavating the Sexual Past in Queer Oral History Practice
by Jason Ruiz
Oral history by Jason Ruiz with Charles W. Paul Larsen, Columbia Heights, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 16, 2004
Chapter 7: Gender, Desire, and Feminism: A Conversation between Dorothy Allison and Carmen Vazquez
by Kelly Anderson
Oral history by Kelly Anderson with Dorothy Allison and Carmen Vazquez, San Francisco, California, November 19, 2007
Part 3: Friendship
Chapter 8: Friendship, Institutions, Oral History
by Michael David Franklin
Oral history interview by Michael David Franklin and Dorthe Troeften with Carol, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 24, 2005
Chapter 9: Gay Teachers and Students, Oral History and Queer Kinship
by Daniel Marshall
Oral history by Daniel Marshall with Gary Jaynes and Graham Carbery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, August 6, 2008
Chapter 10: Sharing Queer Authorities: Collaborating for Transgender Latina and Gay Latino Historical Meanings
Horacio N. Roque Ramirez
Oral history by Horacio N. Roque Ramirez with Alberta Nevaeres (aka "Teresita la Campesina"), San Francisco, California, April 27, 1996
Part 4: Politics
Chapter 11: Dancing with Stella, Los Angeles Daughters of Bilitis Pioneer
Marcia M. Gallo
Oral history by Marcia Gallo with Stella Rush, Los Angeles, California,
March 15 and 19, May 2, May 21 and 22, November 17, 2002
Chapter 12: "You Could Argue That They Control Power": Politics and Interviewing across Sexualities
by Martin Meeker
Oral history by Martin Meeker with Quentin Kopp, San Mateo, California, April 16 and 17, 2007
Chapter 13: Don't Ask: Discussing Sexuality in the American Military and the Media
by Steve Estes
Oral history by Steve Estes with Brian Hughes, Washington D.C., January 25, 2005
Chapter 14: Thanks for the Memories: A Narrator Asks an Oral Historian for Validation
by Eric C. Wat
Oral history by Eric Wat with Ernest Wada, Los Angeles, California, December 4, 1997
Afterword: "If I Knew Then..."
John D'Emilio

About the author: 

Nan Alamilla Boyd is professor of women and gender studies, San Francisco State University. She is the author of Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965. Horacio N. Roque Ramirez is associate professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.

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