In this final episode of The Provocateur‘s miniseries for LGBT History Month 2018, we move the spotlight to contemporary Japan, its attitudes to homosexuality and the ways in which sexuality and gender play out in its gay bar industry. Japan has historically had few laws criminalizing homosexual sex, though a ban on anal sodomy was briefly enforced between 1872 and 1880. In the postwar period, as Japan entered its economic miracle, the leisure industry gained greater prominence and with it came the emergence of the first gay bars in the 1950s and 1960s. Just as the Western world experienced the sexual revolution in the latter half of the twentieth century, Japan’s gay bar subculture can also arguably be seen as a marker of liberalizing attitudes to sexuality. At the same time, it combines Western-style norms of consumerism with a distinctly Japanese take on notions of leisure and service.
Today on The Provocateur I talk to Marcello Francioni, a PhD student in the department of anthropology and sociology at SOAS, University of London, to discuss masculinities and sexuality in contemporary urban Japan. We first talk about the norms of the service industry and what ‘service’ means in Japan, before going on to discuss the evolution of Marcello’s research, the history of homosexuality in Japan and the relationship between language and gender in Tokyo’s gay bars.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Allison, A. (1994) Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Christensen, P. (2014) Japan, Alcoholism, and masculinity: suffering sobriety in Tokyo. Lexington Books.
Graeber, D. (2001) Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hochschild, A. R. (2012) The managed heart. Commercialization of human feeling. University of California Press.
Ishida, H. (2006) ‘Interactive Practices in Shinjuku Ni-Chōme’s Male Homosexual Bars,’ Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context 12: 1–21.
Livia, A. and K. Hall (1997) Queerly Phrased: Language, Gender, and Sexuality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mackintosh, J. D. (2009) Homosexuality and Manliness in Postwar Japan. New York: Routledge.
Maree, C. (2013) Onee-Kotoba. Tokyo: Seidosha.
Pflugfelder, G. M. (1999) Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Robertson, James, and N. Suzuki, eds. (2005) Men and Masculinities in Contemporary Japan: Dislocating the Salaryman Doxa. Routledge.
Singleton, J. (1998) Learning in likely places. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
In this third installment of our miniseries for LGBT History Month 2018 we turn to the issues confronted by LGBT older adults and ageing. At the moment in the United States, there are around 2.7 million LGBT people over the age of 50 and about 1.1 million over the age of 65. These numbers are likely to double by the year 2050 and as developed countries around the world face up to the challenge of an ageing population over the next few decades, the particular problems associated with LGBT ageing will come more sharply into focus.
Today on The Provocateur I talk to Tim R. Johnston, Director of National Projects at SAGE USA, to discuss LGBT older adults and ageing in the United States. We talk about what makes LGBT older populations particularly vulnerable compared with their non-LGBT counterparts, the specific needs of transgender and bisexual older adults and how LGBT family dynamics and support structures differ from non-LGBT ones. We also touch on ageism, racism and disability issues in the LGBT community and how those might impact on ageing. Finally we look to the future and consider how the experience of Millennial LGBT ageing might be distinct from the experiences of the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers.
In the second episode of our miniseries for LGBT History Month 2018 we turn our attention to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its artistic legacies. The AIDS outbreak in the 1970s and 1980s is often described as a moment of crisis and since we are arguably living through a moment of crisis in contemporary politics, the AIDS pandemic can be a useful way into thinking about the idea of ‘crisis’ and how art can respond to moments of political crisis. Moreover, if we want to take the idea of LGBT history seriously, we have to acknowledge the significance of HIV/AIDS in this history (although of course LGBT people were not the only ones affected by the disease).
Today on The Provocateur I talk to Theo Gordon, who has just finished his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, to discuss sex and violence in the art of the American AIDS crisis. We begin by the history of the AIDS pandemic and how the crisis is one of sexuality and aggression, before looking at the invisibility of women with AIDS and the significance of AIDS to cultural theory in the early 1990s. Towards the end of the programme we think about the recent upsurge of interest in the AIDS movement since 2010 and the relationship between siblinghood and AIDS activism/politics.
You can listen to the podcast here:
ACT UP/NY Women & AIDS Book Group (1990) Women, AIDS & Activism, 2nd edn. Boston: South End Press.
Finklestein, A. (2017) After Silence: A History of AIDS Through Its Images. Oakland: University of California Press.
Schulman, S. and J. Hubbard (n.d.) The ACT UP Oral History Project (online).
White, E. (1997) The Farewell Symphony. London: Chatto & Windus.
In the first episode of The Provocateur‘s miniseries for LGBT History Month 2018, we travel to Russia to explore the country’s hidden history of sexuality. In contemporary Russia, the church and state have conspired to suggest that LGBT identities are not part of Russia’s supposedly ‘traditional’ culture. At best, they are seen as subversive and non-traditional; at worst, they are perceived as damaging Western imports, where progressive views on homosexuality are a form of moral neo-imperialism. These attitudes are most clearly expressed in the 2014 law forbidding the promotion of ‘gay propaganda’. However, new research is challenging the ‘otherness’ of Russian homosexuality, arguing that an undercurrent of same-sex desire has long been embedded in Russian culture.
To discuss the history of sexuality in medieval Russia, I’m joined today by Nick Mayhew, who has just finished his PhD in Slavonic Studies at the University of Cambridge. We open by talking about Nick’s initial interest in the subject, before moving on to discuss the kinds of same-sex relationships and identities that existed in pre-modern Russia and the medieval period in particular. We also touch on the difficulties Nick has faced in doing this kind of research in a society rife with state-sponsored homophobia.
Today’s installment of The Provocateur concludes our month-long Canada 150 miniseries with a trip to Québec. Québécois culture has a strong claim to being the foundation of modern Canadian society, since the first European settlers north of Florida were French explorers in what is now Canadian territory in the 16th and 17th centuries. Jacques Cartier first sighted the St Lawrence River in the 1530s; Samuel de Champlain, ‘The Father of New France’, founded what would become Québec City in 1608. As Québec society moved into the 20th and 21st centuries along with the rest of Canada, it had to engage with the questions of gender and sexuality that all liberal democracies have had to confront in recent decades.
In this episode I talk to Loic Bourdeau, assistant professor of French at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, to discuss gender and sexuality in Québécois literature and film. We first look at milestones in Québécois literary history, from the farm novel to the Quiet Revolution and beyond, before exploring the themes of independence and sovereignty, motherhood and sexuality. We also reflect on the future direction of Québec society and what that might mean for cultural developments.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Baillargeon, Denyse (2011) “Quebec Women of the Twentieth Century: Milestones in an Unfinished Journey”, Quebec Questions. Don Mills: Oxford UP, 2011. 231-247.
Barrette, Jean-Marc (1996) L’univers de Michel Tremblay. Montreal: U of Montreal Press.
Boucher-Marchand, Monique (1997) “Michel Tremblay et l’autobiographie du Nous.” La création biographique. Rennes: U of Rennes.
Bourdeau, Loic (2012) “F.O.L.L.E. société: déconstruction et reconstruction identitaire dans C.R.A.Z.Y.” Nouvelles Etudes Francophones. 27.1: 130-144.
Bourdieu, Pierre (1998) La domination masculine. Paris: Seuil.
Chapman, Rosemary (2013) What is Québécois Literature? Liverpool: Liverpool UP.
Dickinson, Peter (1999) Here is Queer: Nationalisms, Sexualities, and the Literatures of Canada. Toronto: U of Toronto Press.
Eribon, Didier (1999) Réflexions sur la question gay. Paris: Fayard.
Foucault, Michel (1976) Histoire de la sexualité. La volonté de savoir. Paris: Gallimard.
Green, Mary Jean (2011) Women and Narrative Identity. Rewriting the Quebec National Text. London: McGill UP.
Lacoursière, Jacques, Jean Provencher, and Denis Vaugeois (2011) Canada-Québec 1534-2010. Quebec: Septentrion.
Lamoureux, Diane (2011) “The Paradoxes of Quebec Feminism.” Quebec Questions. Don Mills: Oxford UP.
Lévesque, Andrée (1994) Making and Breaking the Rules: Women in Quebec, 1919-1939. Trans. Yvonne M. Klein. Toronto: U of Toronto Press.
Marshall, Bill (2001) Quebec National Cinema. London: McGill UP.
Muñoz, José Esteban (2009) Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York UP.
Richer, Jocelyne (2015) “Le CSF dit craindre un retour au foyer.” Ledevoir.ca. 29 Jan. 2015.
Schwartzwald, Robert (1993) “‘Symbolic’ Homosexuality, ‘False Feminine,’ and the Problematics of Identity in Québec.” Queer Politics and Social Theory. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press.
While prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation is still widespread throughout the world, in recent decades laws have been enacted in various countries banning so-called conversion therapy: (typically) psychological attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to exclusively heterosexual. Advances in neuroscience in the not-too-distant future could mean that conversion therapy could be delivered in a ‘high-tech’ manner, for example by administering a drug that could rewire the neurochemical signals in our brains.
This possibility brings with it a raft of ethical issues and today on The Provocateur I talk to Brian Earp, Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at Oxford University, to broach these issues. We discuss the possible harms of conversion therapy and whether neuroenhancement-based conversion therapy in particular produces any distinctive harms, explore arguments in favour of the practice and touch on some policy implications.
You can listen to part one of the podcast here:
Part two is here:
Note: In the broadcast I mention a second episode with Brian (discussing female and male circumcision), but unfortunately this has been postponed to next month due to scheduling issues. Watch this space!
Levy, J. T. (2005) ‘Sexual orientation, exit and refuge’, in Eisenberg, A. and J. Spinner-Halev (eds.) Minorities within Minorities: Equality, Rights and Diversity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Okin, S. M. (1999) ‘Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?’ in Cohen, J. et al. (eds.) Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Sandel, M. (2007) The Case Against Perfection. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Shidlo, A. et al. (eds.) (2001) Sexual Conversion Therapy: Ethical, Clinical and Research Perspectives. New York, London and Oxford: The Haworth Medical Press.
Vietnam is probably best known to listeners from its complex and tangled relationship with foreign powers, especially France and the United States. As well as being a popular backpacking destination, it also now has a burgeoning LGBT subculture. The LGBT rights movement has exploded in the country in recent years, even as wider Vietnamese society struggles to move past colonial-era negative stereotypes of homosexuality.
On today’s episode of The Provocateur — a holdover from LGBT History Month — I talk to Joshua Black, who has just completed his PhD at SOAS (London) on representations of male homosexuality in contemporary Vietnamese literature. We discuss French colonial attitudes towards homosexuality, compare them to gay male identities in 21st century Vietnamese writing and explore the implications for our understanding of changing attitudes to homosexuality in Vietnamese culture.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Colonial era Vietnamese attitudes towards homosexuality:
Proschan, Frank (2002) ‘Eunuch Mandarins, Soldats Mamzelles, Effeminate Boys, and Graceless Women: French Colonial Constructions of Vietnamese Genders’, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 8(4), pp. 435-467.
Proschan, Frank (2002b) ‘Syphilis, Opiomania and Pederasty: Colonial Constructions of Vietnamese (and French) Social Diseases’, Journal of the History of Sexuality 11(4), pp. 610-636.
Colby, D. J. (2003) ‘HIV Knowledge and Risk Factors Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’, JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 32, pp. 80-85
Blanc, Marie-Eve (2005) Social Construction of Male Homosexualities in Vietnam. Some Keys to Understanding Discrimination and Implications for HIV Prevention Strategy. UNESCO, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Modern social context:
Nguyễn Quốc Vinh (2015) ‘Cultural Ambiguity in Contemporary Vietnamese Representations of Homosexuality: A New Historicist Reading of Bùi Anh Tấn’s Fiction’, Journal of Vietnamese Studies 10(3), pp. 48-86.
Lại Nguyên Ân and Alec Holcombe (2010) ‘The Heart and Mind of the Poet Xuân Diệu: 1054-1958’, Journal of Vietnamese Studies 5(2), pp. 1-90.
In the final episode of our month-long miniseries for LGBT History Month, The Provocateur travels to Brazil, arguably one of the most important emerging markets at the moment as well as being a vibrant and dynamic country in its own right. While it may have hit the headlines most recently for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff – and the subsequent return to power of the main conservative faction in Congress, led by Michel Temer – Brazil also has a long and complicated history of colonialism, decolonisation and dictatorship. This has inevitably impacted on the ways in which LGBT people express their sexuality and how they are perceived by mainstream Brazilian society.
Today I talk to Bryan Pitts, a lecturer in history at the University of Georgia, for a fascinating look at the interplay of race, sexuality, nationality and democracy in contemporary Brazil. We discuss the historical context of the dictatorship years of 1964-1985 and the transition to democracy, the legacies of Portuguese rule, the thesis that sexual liberalisation has gone along with political liberalisation and the particular challenges facing transgendered people. We also talk about Bryan’s research on Brazilian gay magazines and gay sex tourism.
As LGBT History Month draws to a close, it seems like a good time to turn the spotlight onto the idea of LGBT history and in particular the politics of representing LGBT people in a public forum. Archaeology, anthropology, heritage studies, museum studies and historiography have all undergone a reflexive shift in recent years that pays attention to the practice of history, the people whom history is for and moreover the problem of whose history is represented. The place of LGBT people in these debates is particularly interesting because it involves histories that are often private, hidden and sexually explicit, which raises the question of whether LGBT heritage should be publicised at all and if so how it should be publicised. Cultural management of LGBT heritage often involves state intervention, which also implies state endorsement of progressive attitudes to sexuality which can rub up against certain objections (religious or otherwise) to the use of public money in this way.
In this fourth episode of The Provocateur‘s special miniseries for LGBT History Month, I talk to Kyle Lee-Crossett, a PhD candidate in Heritage Studies at University College London, to disentangle these complex issues. We discuss the problems of representing sexuality in museums and public collections, the question of whether diversity and inclusion practices empower LGBT people or oppress them, the institutionalisation of LGBT history and the consequences for the ways in which LGBT people view themselves, before finally looking ahead to prospects for the future of the museum and the position of LGBT people in it.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Key introductory articles:
Blackmore, C. (2011) ‘How to Queer the Past Without Sex: Queer Theory, Feminisms and the Archaeology of Identity’, Archaeologies 7, pp. 75–96.
Eng, D., J. Halberstam and E. Muñoz (2005) ‘What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?’ Social Text 23(3-4), pp 1-17. DOI: 10.1215/01642472-23-3-4_84-85-1
Mills, R. (2008) ‘Theorizing the Queer Museum’, Museums & Social Issues [online] 3(1). pp 41-52. DOI: 10.1179/msi.2008.3.1.41
Freeman, E. (2010) Time Binds: queer temporalities, queer histories. Durham: Duke University Press.
Love, H. (2007) Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Muñoz, J. (1996) ‘Ephemera as Evidence: Introductory Notes to Queer Acts’, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 8(2), pp. 5-16. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012. doi:10.1080/07407709608571228.
Queering archives and museums:
Arondekar, A. (2015) ‘In the Absence of Reliable Ghosts: Sexuality, Historiography, South Asia’, differences:A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, [online] 25 (5). pp. 98-112. DOI: 10.1215/10407391-2847964
Cvetkovitch, A. (2003) An Archive of Feeling: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Culture. Duke University Press: Durham and London
Manalansan, M. (2014) ‘The “Stuff” of Archives: Mess, Migration, and Queer Lives’, Radical History Review 120, pp. 94-106.
Morris, C., and Rawson, K. (2013) ‘Queer Archives/Archival Queers’, in Ballif, M., (ed.) 2013. Theorizing Histories of Rhetoric. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, p 74-89.
Nguyen, M.T. (2015) ‘Minor Threats’, Radical History Review 122, pp. 11–24. 10.1215/01636545-2849495
Sheffield, R. (2014) ‘The Bedside Table Archives: Archive Interventions and Lesbian Intimate Domestic Culture’, Radical History Review 120, pp. 108-129. DOI: 10.1215/01636545-2703751
Steorn, P. (2012) ‘Curating Queer Heritage: Queer Knowledge and Museum Practice’, Digital 55(3). pp 355-365. DOI: 10.1111/j.2151-6952.2012.00159.x
Queer memory and memory politics:
Blair, C., and N. Michel (2007) ‘The AIDS Memorial Quilt and the Contemporary Culture of Public Commemoration’, Rhetoric & Public Affairs 10(4), pp. 595-626. DOI: 10.1353/rap.2008.0024
Boyd, N. A. (2005) Wide-open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Crage, S. and E. Armstrong (2006) ‘Movements and Memory: The Making of the Stonewall Myth’, American Sociological Review 71(5), pp 724-751. DOI:10.1177/000312240607100502
Drysdale, K. (2014) ‘When Scenes Fade: Methodological lessons from Sydney’s drag king culture’, Cultural Studies 29(3), pp 1-18. DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2014.937939
Dunn, T. (2011) ‘Remembering “A Great Fag”: Visualizing Public Queer Memory and the Construction of Queer Space’, Quarterly Journal of Speech 97(4), pp 435-460. DOI: 10.1080/00335630.2011.585168
Jones, C. (2007) ‘A Vision of the Quilt’, Rhetoric & Public Affairs 10(4). pp 575-579. DOI: 10.1353/rap.2008.0033
Lamble, S. (2008) ‘Retelling Racialized Violence, Remaking White Innocence: The Politics of Interlocking Oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance’, Sexuality Research & SocialPolicy 5(1), pp. 24-42. DOI: 10.1525/srsp.2008.5.1.24
Morris, C. (2007) ‘Introduction: The Mourning After’, Rhetoric and Public Affairs 10(4), pp. 557-574. DOI: 10.1353/rap.2008.0028
Rubin, G. (2004) ‘The Catacombs: A Temple of the Butthole’, in Thompson, M. (ed.) Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People, Politics, and Practice. Los Angeles: Daedalus Publishing, pp. 119-141.
Today The Provocateur continues its miniseries for LGBT History Month with a special episode to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalised same-sex intercourse between consenting male adults in England and Wales. Since the Act was passed we have witnessed great strides in the acceptance of LGBT people in the UK but also a backlash against said visibility. This was especially true from the 1980s to the mid-1990s, which saw the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the enforcement of Section 28, a law which explicitly banned the teaching of homosexuality in English, Welsh and Scottish state schools.
In this episode I interview Hannah Telling, a PhD student in History at the University of Glasgow, to discuss the historical context of the Sexual Offences Act, the legal and political complexities of the Scottish exemption from the Act, the changing climate for LGBT people in Britain since the Act and continuing challenges to LGBT rights progress.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Note: Cllr Tom Hayes of Oxford City Council is looking for gay men with a pre-1967 Oxford connection to tell their stories about gay life in the city before decriminalisation. For more information go to http://bit.ly/fiftyyearsoxford.
Cook, M. (2007) ‘From Gay Reform to Gaydar, 1967-2006’, in Cook, M. (ed.) A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Men since the Middle Ages. Oxford: Greenwood World Publishing.
Davidson, R. and G. Davis (2006) ‘Sexuality and the State: the Campaign for Scottish Homosexual Law Reform, 1967-1980’, Contemporary British History 20(4), pp. 533-558.
Jeffrey-Poulter, S. (1991) Peers, Queers and Commons: The Struggle for Gay Reform from 1950 to the Present. London: Routledge.
Jivani, A. (1997) It’s Not Unusual: A History of Lesbian and Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. London: Michael O’Mara Books.
Meek, J. (2015) Queer Voices in Post-War Scotland: Male Homosexuality, Religion and Society. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Weeks, J. (2016) Coming Out: The Emergence of LGBT Identities in Britain from the 19th Century to the Present. London: Quartet Books.