Robert Giard Fellowship Winner
Sonali Gulati | Out & About (Film)
Sonali Gulati is an Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s
Department of Photography & Film. She has an MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University and a BA in Critical Social Thought from Mount Holyoke College. Ms. Gulati has made several short films that have screened at over two hundred film festivals worldwide. She has won awards, grants and fellowships from the Third Wave Foundation, World Studio Foundation, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Theresa Pollak Award for Excellence in the Arts, amongst
several others. Her upcoming documentary project Out & About
is a noteworthy film on parents of LGBT youth in India for which Gulati was awarded the Robert Giard Fellowship.
ynopsis of the Winner Proposal:
Out & About is a documentary film project that focuses on the
central question of: “What do parents do when they find out that their child is gay?” Having lost the opportunity to tell her mother that she is a lesbian, Gulati travels across India to meet with parents of other gay and lesbian South Asians. Out & About is a personal and revealing feature film that journeys to a landscape where being gay is a criminal and punishable offense*. With courage, determination, and humor, families share untold stories that have thus far remained in the realm of secrecy and silence.
Robert Giard Fellowship Finalists
Zanele Muholi of Parktown, Johannesburg, South Africa is a photographer and filmmaker. She was the 2009 Ida Ely Rubin Artist-in-Residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), visiting the campus in February/March. Her work represents the black female body in a frank yet intimate way
that challenges the history of the portrayal of black women’s bodies in documentary
photography. She is a part of Michael Stevenson galleries and can be reached at http://www.michaelstevenson.com/contemporary/artists/muholi.htm. For her project Ukukhumbula, a Zulu word which means
‘to remember,’ a photographic art project which aims to commemorate and preserve the life and histories of black lesbians in South Africa and beyond.
Angela Jimenez is a freelance photo documentarian/journalist based in Brooklyn where she is a regular contributor to the New York Times, a contract photographer at Getty Images. She has a BA in English Literature/American History from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Photojournalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. You can find her work online at www.
angelajimenezphotography.com.Her project, Womyn’s Land is an ongoing
documentary project about the historic
network of feminist-separatist (mostly lesbian) intentional communities in North America. A portion of the work was published in February 2009 in this article My Sister’s Keeper, which ran in the Sunday Styles section in The New York Times.
Madeleine Olnek is a playwright, director and filmmaker working in comedy. Her first movie Hold Up was an official selection of
the Sundance Film Festival and won the Newfest audience award for best Short. Her second movie, Make Room for Phyllis,
a comedy about polyamory, played at festivals throughout the US and Europe; and her third movie, Countertransference was an official selection of Sundance 2009, as well as winning the Outfest Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Dramatic short. More info about her projects is available at www.
countertransferencethemovie.com. Her project, Neurosis is a Pre-Emptive Behavior is part of an ongoing project; a series of shorts that look at lesbians and gays in therapy.
The Martin Duberman Fellowship
Gay and Lesbian Country Music Fandom
An endowed fellowship named for CLAGS’ founder and first executive director, this award is given to a senior scholar from
any country doing research on LGBTQ
experience. The 2008/09 Duberman Fellowship was awarded to Nadine Hubbs, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Music at the University of Michigan, where she serves as Women’s Studies undergraduate director and co-director of the Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative.
Country music is conventionally linked to heterosexual white, rural, working-class, Southern, and Midwestern identities and cultures. It is also linked to so-called redneck culture, which is itself connected in the middle class with racism, homophobia, and misogyny. Given the associations of gay
with urban and bourgeois cultures and the homophobic reputation of redneck and country music cultures, queer country fandom might seem almost a contradiction in terms. This book will explore the little-known realm of gay and lesbian country fans, investigating how they use country music to forge social and erotic worlds interweaving LGBTQ, rural, and working-class cultures and thus bridge the apparently opposite identities of redneck and queer.
How does music that sounds homophobic to many people serve as a medium for queer social and sexual exchange? Drawing on surveys and interviews, cultural history, social theory, musical analysis, and participant observation at LGBT rodeos and dancehalls, “Unmapped Country” will explore how and why culturally diverse queer fans use and identify with country music. Among the questions to be addressed: Does country
fandom among sexual and racial-ethnic
minorities evince a kind of false consciousness,
or does it show class, geographic, and national affiliations taking precedence over sexual, racial, and gender identifications? Are lesbian and gay fans’ country engagements
earnest, or camp-ironic? What are gay men’s relations to country’s emphatic, sometimes redneck masculinity? What is the role of female
masculinity in the country identifications of rural and working-class women, lesbian and straight? Does this contravene the oft-remarked gender conformity of country songs and culture, or does female masculinity hint at hidden possibilities for sexual and gender diversity within country music?
A smattering of work on rural gays and lesbians has been published in sociology, history, and cultural studies, and a handful of studies currently in preparation should stimulate new dialogue in this area. As the first monograph on lesbian-gay country music fandom, “Unmapped Country” will contribute to dialogues on rural queer life and will also interrogate the intersection of queer and working-class identities and cultures. Within its fields of LGBTQ, music, cultural, and American studies, the book will particularly highlight the significance of inquiry into social class. Throughout these fields and U.S. dialogues generally, class’s crucial role in shaping society and individual lives is under-recognized. In charting the convergence of country and redneck with LGBTQ identities, “Unmapped Country” will complicate understandings of all the cultural and identity categories involved.
The Martin Duberman Fellowship
Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas
Christopher Reed received the Duberman honorable mention for Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas, a book project about the way ideas about art and about sexual identity are intertwined in the history of the avant-garde. Reed’s study traces the development of ideas about the “artist” and the “homosexual” as they developed in relation to one another, challenging the common idea that the avant-garde functioned as a site of significant resistance to
definitions and disciplines of sexuality generated by medicine and the law.
Reed, who trained as an art historian, has published widely on issues of gender and sexual identity in modern art and design. Now a professor of Visual Culture in an English Department, he has forthcoming this year a study—including the first English
translation—of Félix Régamey’s Pink Notebook of Madame
Chrysanthème. This 1893 novella by a French illustrator purports to retell the story of the best-selling 1888 novel Madame
CLAGS FELLOWSHIP 2009
Frank Leon Roberts
Towards an Ethics of Affection: Queers of Color, AIDS Activism and the Politics of Belonging
An Award given annually to a graduate student, an academic, or an independent scholar for work on a dissertation or first or second book. This year CLAGS would like to offer special thanks to David R. Kessler for his generous support for reviving this fellowship.
Frank Leon Roberts, the winner of 2009 CLAGS Fellowship, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Performance Studies at
NYU. He received his B.A. in English and African American
Studies from NYU’s Gallatin School in 2004. His fields of interest
include contemporary African American art; film and video, critical race theory, and queer theory and criticism. He also specializes in issues related to AIDS and queer politics/alternative media. He is currently at work at two research projects: one that examines the ethics of AIDS activism among poor and working class queer men of color in New York City entitled “Towards an Ethics of Affection: Queers of Color, AIDS Activism and the Politics of Belonging” and a second project that focuses on black masculinity and aesthetic unbelonging in post-civil rights African American art titled “Punks: Blackness and the Politics of ‘Passivity’”. He is a recipient of the 2009 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship Award.
“Towards an Ethics of Affection: Queers of Color, AIDS Activism, and the Politics of Belonging” is an urban ethnography of cultural activism among queer men of color negotiating the AIDS epidemic in New York City. The first study of its kind, the project focuses on the everyday lives, performances, and kinship networks of poor and working-class queer African American and black Caribbean men who live in the “outskirts” of New York. The “outskirts” is a phrase that Roberts develops to describe certain spaces such as Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and Jersey City, New Jersey—geospatial locales that are often elided in historical and theoretical considerations of “gay New York.
The project focuses on the intimate strategies for survival these men take as they negotiate the AIDS epidemic in their daily
lives. Specifically, these “strategies for survival” include the reconstitution of gender and sexual norms, the establishment of alternative modes of “activism” (such as house/drag balls with HIV related themes) and the creation of kinship networks that are not based on blood or bio-familial ties, but rather on what Cornel West refers to as “love, care, and service.”
The project illustrates the utility of using fieldwork methods within an American Studies paradigm to expand the discourse on HIV/AIDS in communities of color, a discourse that is currently monopolized by the fields of biomedicine, epidemiology, and “public health.” Missing from these dominant approaches,
Roberts argues, is an attention to the specific relational contexts in which “HIV risk” emerges, and the unique ways that communities on the ground have attempted to respond to the epidemic by and through performative means. Roberts argues that the
concept of “unsafe sex” which has become popular in public health discourses often obscures the specific socio-cultural
contexts in which poor men of color make decisions about their sexual practices (including, for instance, having “unsafe sex”) based on the intimate networks of kin that they belong to. By focusing on what he calls the “political economy of risk,” he offers a new perspective for thinking about sexual politics, AIDS, and sexual agency among marginalized men of color.
Though grounded in fieldwork and close ethnographic
engagement, this project is ultimately interdisciplinary and includes analyses of visual culture (such as AIDS photography and media ad campaigns); community-based queer film and video; as well as textual critiques of existing epidemiological literature. Thus, this study provides a significant contribution to four established fields: urban ethnography in American
Studies, Public Health, Queer Theory (particularly queer of color critique), and African American/African Diaspora studies.
Christina B. Handhardt
“Safe Space”: The Sexual and City Politics of Violence, 1965-2005
The CLAGS Honorable mention goes to Christina B. Hanhardt, Assistant professor in the Department of American Studies and core faculty in the LGBT Studies Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is also editor of the newsletter for the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, an affiliated society of the American Historical Association. Her research focuses on the history of U.S. LGBT social movements and contested urban development. She is completing a book manuscript about gay neighborhoods and the politics of safety since the 1960s, with a focus on the relationship between activism against violence and the race- and class-stratification of the city. Broadly, it examines the transformation of LGBT politics alongside the popular uptake of neoliberal ideologies during these years. Part of this research was published as
Butterflies, Whistles, and Fists: Gay Safe Streets Patrols and the ‘New Gay Ghetto’ 1976-1981, Radical History Review, Winter 2008 (100).
Joan Heller –Diane Bernard FELLOWSHIPS 2009
This fellowship, two awards of $5000 each, supports research by a junior scholar (graduate student, untenured university professor or independent researcher) into the impact of lesbians and/or gay men on U.S. society and culture. This year’s winners are Mignon R. Moore and Jen Gieseking.
Mignon R. Moore, Ph.D
Social Histories of Black American and
Caribbean Lesbians and Gay Men
This year’s winner of Heller-Bernard Fellowship Mignon R. Moore, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of sociology at UCLA. She is a board member of the Ford Foundation University Consortium for
Sexuality Research & Training, and serves on the editorial boards of Contemporary Sociology and the Journal of Marriage and Family. In 2006 she received an award from the Human Rights Campaign for her professional work and outreach with LGBT
communities of color.
Professor Moore’s research on gender, race, sexuality, family and aging has been published in the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society,
Ethnic and Racial Studies and Journal of Marriage and Family. Currently, she is completing a book manuscript titled Invisible Families: Gay
Identities, Relationships and Motherhood among Black Women based
on her three year, mixed-methods study of black American and
Caribbean women in New York. In other on-going projects Moore
examines physical health outcomes and social support for older African-American lesbians and gay men through an NIH/NIA pilot study funded. She also researches the relationships African-American LGBT people have with their religious and racial communities. Some of that work was recently featured in an interview on the NPR Radio Network.
Her study, “Social Histories of Black American and Caribbean Lesbians and Gay Men” will collect oral history and video-recorded data for a two-city study of approximately 25 black American and Caribbean LGBT seniors born in or before 1954. It will examine how they
understood and experienced a gay sexuality in the context of other group memberships based on race, gender, and class during the 1960s and 1970s liberation movements, and how their presence in their racial communities may have influenced aspects of heterosexual culture (for example through music, language and style). It will also
examine the current experiences of LGBT seniors with their gay
sexuality as they enter the golden years of their lives.
The study addresses three research questions: 1) What were the
environmental, cultural, and social contexts of the coming out
experiences for older black lesbians and gay men; 2) How do
previously formed identities based on race influence the ways individuals form subsequent identities based on sexuality, and how do the lives and experiences of gay people shape the worlds in which they live; 3) How do gay seniors negotiate their sexuality in the context of racial and ethnic communities that may be disapproving of homosexual behavior, and in the context of social mores that assume a waning interest in sexuality for older populations.
This research examines these questions through a comparative
framework of native and foreign-born blacks, and New York and Los Angeles as two cities with distinct and important historical and contemporary relationships to black LGBT populations. In the
turbulent 1960s and 1970s, members of this group experienced multiple oppressions. However, some also experienced newfound employment and educational opportunities as a result of affirmative action policies and increased access to college. Moreover, the sexual freedom of the 1970s allowed many to explore same-sex desire in ways that had not been possible for previous generations. Preliminary interviews with potential respondents reveal examples of life during that period that reflect both the restrictive social and political
environments of that time as well as the more light-hearted freedoms many gay blacks were able to enjoy. Today’s black LGBT elders once stood at the juxtaposition of the gay liberation, black power and women’s movements, and their oral histories will allow us to fill in important gaps in knowledge. Discussions about their contemporary experiences of being black and gay in their senior years will shed new light on how sexuality relates to the aging process and self-understandings of older people.
Living in an (In)Visible World: Lesbians and Queer Women’s Spaces and Economies in New York City (1983-2008)
Jen Gieseking is a Ph.D. Candidate in environmental psychology at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her work concerns the co-production of spaces and identities across generations, specifically lesbians’ and queer women’s shifting experiences of justice and injustice through the intersectionalities of sexuality, gender, race, and class. She is interested in the sociocultural production and private/public aspects of everyday spaces of identity around sexuality, gender, race, and class, the right to the city and the right to design and produce the city, theorizing experiences of justice, injustice, and oppression, cognitive and mental mapping methodologies, and feminist and queer pedagogy. She has
published in Area and has work forthcoming
in the Journal of Social Issues. She is a member of the Participatory Action Research Collective and SpaceTime Research Collective. She served as a Fellow of The Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, and was awarded the Proshansky Dissertation Award and the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies in 2008 for her research. Her website is www.jgieseking.org<file://localhost/exchweb/bin/redir.asp>
roject Description: “Living in an (In)Visible World: Lesbians and Queer Women’s Spaces and Economies in New York City (1983-2008)” addresses the shifts in lesbians’ and queer women’s spaces and their associated economies in New York City over the last 25 years as a way to understand the changing spatiality of these women’s experiences of justice and injustice over time. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people in the U.S. have recently experienced an increase in visibility—both positive and negative. Social science research on LGBTQ spaces most often focuses on prominent LGBTQ spaces and events and/or on one place at one moment in time. As such, this body of work has not begun to discuss what these shifts mean to and within the everyday lives and spaces of LGBTQ individuals, especially lesbians and queer women. At the same time, research about LGBTQ spaces often focuses on gay and queer men, or subsumes the spaces of lesbians and queer women under a study of generic LGBTQ spaces. Given the significance of gender, there is a need for lesbian and queer women-only studies if the lives and spaces of these women are not to remain “invisible”—to heterosexuals, gay, queer, and transgender people, and even other lesbians and queer women.
As such, “Living in an (In)Visible World”
addresses both the generational shifts and overarching consistencies in the production of lesbians’ and queer women’s urban spaces and places. It also questions assumed models of “queer empowerment” through, mostly gay men’s, geographical territorialization and capitalist economic power, i.e. “selling out” and
“buying in” through processes of gentrification
and commodification. The project draws upon a qualitative mixed methods approach of focus groups and mental mapping exercises with lesbians and queer women who came out between 1983 and 2008, as well as detailed archival research regarding publications and organizational records from that period. This study will contribute to the fields of geography, urban studies, environmental psychology, women’s and gender studies, and LGBTQ studies as it produces a more differentiated and nuanced understanding of urban space and the relationship between space and identity. This research will assist both LGBTQ studies and lesbians and queer women in
recording the everyday geographies of these women’s own history across generations while identifying tactics and strategies of resistance, resilience, and reworking of
everyday spaces and economies to respond to and change homophobic and heteronormative ethics and practices.
Student Travel Award 2009
The student travel award is open to all graduate students enrolled in the CUNY system.
Jen Geiseking, a Ph.D. Candidate, Environmental Psychology was granted the Spring 2009 Student Travel Award for the presentation of her paper, “Constellating an (In)Visible World: Lesbians’ and Queer Women’s Everyday Spaces and Places in New York City” (1983-2008), at the Association of American Geographers Conference in Las Vegas Nevada, March 22nd–27th, 2009. Gieseking drew upon focus groups and mental mapping exercises from women who came out between 1983 and 2008, as well as archival materials regarding lesbians and queer women’s spaces in that period.
Winner of the Fall 2008 student travel award, Roberto Ferrari, is a PhD student in Art History, not History, as it was stated in the previous Newsletter.