In my new book Queer Forms, I explore how the central political values of movements for women’s and gay liberation in the 1970s—including consciousness-raising, separatism, coming out of the closet, and alternative kinship—were translated into a range of American popular culture forms. Throughout the 1970s, movements for women's and gay liberation fought social and political battles to expand or wholly transform definitions of so-called “normal” gender and sexuality; one effect of this project was to encourage artists, writers, and filmmakers to invent new ways of formally representing, or giving shape to, non-normative genders and sexualities. Through case studies of queer and feminist cultural productions including Armistead Maupin’s serial fiction Tales of the City (1976-1983), Lizzy Borden’s dystopian film Born in Flames (1983), and Tony Kushner’s epic play Angels in America (1989-1991), I show how artists innovated in many popular mediums and genres to make the experience of gender and sexual non-conformity recognizable for mass audiences in the modern US. I narrate the pre-history of the contemporary renaissance in LGBTQ political activism and culture by developing a genealogy of late twentieth-century artifacts that projected images of gender and sexual rebellion, which came to infuse the American popular imagination in the 1970s and after. Queer Forms will be published by NYU Press.
Tales of the City
In chapter 5 of my new book project, I explore the cultural politics of serialized gay fiction in the 1970s. I take Armistead Maupin's wildly successful serial fiction Tales of the City as my case study. As part of this research I am interviewing original readers of the story who encountered Tales of the City in the San Francisco Chronicle between 1976-1983. Below you can find information on this study and contact me if you wish to be interviewed.