Catherine Bernard: A question in studying asexual history

When studying queer history, especially asexual and aromantic history, silence is an immediate problem. The only way to know whether or not someone is asexual or aromantic is through their own identifying as such. The newness of asexual and aromantic communities and silence around sexual orientation has robbed us of this. Finding asexuality historically as an identity, instead of a choice or behavior, is often impossible. Instead of hoping for a definite answer, we must look at behavior, despite every claim that asexuality and aromanticism are identities, not behaviors, read between the lines, and accept that we may never know.

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György Faludy

György Faludy ranks high on the list of revolutionary bisexual writers. Considering the people he shares that category with, that is no small thing. A Jewish man who was born in Hungary and spent most of his life in love with his home country, he was the picture of a patriot. In that, he got in scuffles with the state more than once. Upon finding, again and again, the affection he lavished upon his homeland to be unreturned, he lavished more, from a distance when he could. A man who was remembered as having “... lived everywhere, met everybody, and was ousted from everywhere,” in the invitation to his 95th birthday party, we are excited to discuss with you the life of György Faludy.

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Chrystos

In this article, I will explore the life and impact of Menominee two-spirit lesbian activist, formidable writer, and fierce warrior with a blade to the throat of corruption and injustice; Chrystos. From a harsh upbringing riddled with sexual, physical and emotional abuse, mental illness, and the pain of surviving on the streets as a Native American in a world that silences their very existence, Chrystos self-educated themselves and became a voice for the broken, beaten, and oppressed. To this day, their accomplishments as an Indigenous rights activist and poet has been widely recognized, won numerous awards, and politics are an essential part of their writing with their life as a lesbian and Native American being unapologetically at the forefront of it all. For their own personal preferences, I will be using they/them/their pronouns.

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Kitty Genovese

The most famous picture of her—dark tousled hair cropped short and the whisper of a cheeky grin about her lips—is actually a mugshot, taken in 1961 for bookmaking. She ran a small betting system out of her place at Ev’s Eleventh Hour Sports Bar, taking patrons’ money for horseracing. Known for her skill and good humor, she had been brought into the police station and promptly let go. It was a minor charge, one that she conveniently never told her family back in Connecticut about. In most iterations, the placard with her charge and booking ID is cropped out of the image, leaving only the hint of the string blending into the plaid of her shirt. This is the picture that accompanied the 1964 New York Times headline:

37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call Police

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Carlos Jáuregui

A life is more than the sum of its parts. As we dive into the life of Carlos Jáuregui we find this to be particularly evident. An Argentinian man who, while ambitious and accomplished, did not get the time to build the life he deserved left a legacy that will span out farther than he could have imagined.

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Takatāpui

Language can be a good indicator towards the attitudes of a society; looking at language can, in fact, be an invaluable resource for finding the role queer people maintained in any given culture. From the esteemed baté of the Crow nation to the use of "fairy" as a jab at femme queer men and trans women. Today we will explore a word that finds its roots in New Zealand with the Māori people, and see what insight it can give us into queer people's place in Māori culture.

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Yukio Mishima

Discussing Yukio Mishima is a complex mess of sorting fact from fiction, and while in our last article of Elagabalus we found ourselves faced with similar problems, the reasoning behind this confusion could not be more different. With Elagabalus, it was because we were faced with a cacophony of differing accounts of her life. But Yukio Mishima is a much more modern figure, having only died in 1970, so we still have many first-hand accounts of his life, including videos of him. This is where we find the complexity. It has less to do with others' varied feelings on the life of Mishima, but the contradictions found within the man himself.

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Elagabalus, the Empress

To discuss Elagabalus, one thing must be noted before all other things; there are almost no reliable accounts of her life. An empress who quickly became known as one of the most reviled leaders in the Roman empire has a lot of different sources saying a lot of different things about her reign. But we shall attempt to scavenge out what nuggets of truth we can and share with you the life of a bisexual transgender empress from the years 218 to 222.

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Billy Tipton and the Question of Gender

Gender is strange, and when looking back in history it can seem doubly so. Between constant language shifts, the erasure many transgender people suffered from cisgender historians, and—for safety and privacy reasons—trans people themselves staying hidden, it can seem impossible to identify transgender people in history. With transgender men, there is an additional wrench thrown in the works.

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Alvin Baltrop

“I can tell a story and I try to tell my whole feelings--the touch, the smell, and feelings. All I’m afraid of now is being like a few other guys I know who took photographs. When they die, maybe the family comes in and sees all this work they can’t do anything with, and they just shove it into the garbage. I want people to see these photographs and say ‘this is something from my time.’” Alvin Baltrop

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Hamish Henderson

Hamish Henderson is not widely known, despite his contributions to Scottish culture. Despite being a proud bisexual, and greatly contributing to LGBT activism, this facet of his identity is largely ignored in discussions of the man himself. A folklorist, poet, and activist, Hamish Henderson (1919-2002) was one of the major forces in the Scottish Renaissance of the 20th Century, a period of time where Scottish art and political thinking flourished. His song ‘Freedom Come-All-Ye’ is probably his most well known piece of work, has been suggested as an alternative national anthem and was sung at the Scottish Commonwealth Games in 2014. Beyond this, his contributions to the promotion and preservation of Scottish Culture can still be seen today. 

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Defining Identities in North America, Part 2

Reaching the second part of our series exploring the words people in North America have used to describe the experience of being assigned a gender that was not correct, we look at a more well known and discussed term; transgender. To look at the history of a word, as we are about to, it must first be acknowledged that there is a difference between dictionary definitions and community ones. While analyzing how official sources from that mainstream society defined certain words is without a doubt invaluable, it is important to recognize the definition the people who actually used the words gave them, and that is what we will be exploring now.

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Defining Identities in North America, Part 1

All throughout history, one thing has remained true: everything changes. This universal fact also applies to something so fundamental to humanity as language. From the evolution of definitions to the evolution of the words themselves, we have seen drastic changes to our languages even within the past decade. And while it is hotly debated whether the new additions to our collective vocabularies are beneficial or not, the fact is that the additions exist, whether or not old white men writing think pieces for the New York Times like it. Within the queer community, these changes are particularly evident, with new names for old identities being revealed by the day. For now, though, we focus on one letter of the LGBT community: the T. This week, we are releasing a two part series focusing on the transgender community within North America, and the different words and definitions that have existed throughout the history of the continent.

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Alan Turing

There are a myriad of accounts about Alan Turing's life. You can read biographies, watch films, and browse entire websites dedicated to the man dubbed 'the father of artificial intelligence'. But many of these accounts fail on a number of fronts. Some downplay his sexuality, others ignore it outright, and only a handful recognize that Alan Turing's achievements are as much down to his early romantic experiences as they are to his intellectual prowess.

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