I am sorry for the absence of activity at Historiann lately–I’d like to say that it’s because I’m writing 3,500 words a day, but alas! I have fallen woefully behind in my scheme to finish one draft chapter of my book per month this autumn. The year isn’t over yet, so I’ll wait to report on the final results, but let’s just say that mid-semester business plus a few trips out of town got me out of the habit of rising at 4 a.m. to write.
It’s cold here, as it is pretty much everywhere in North America, but we don’t have the disabling ice and snow that afflicts the middle of the U.S. now. I actually took a (short) run yesterday. I think it was probably my coldest run in 23-1/2 years, as for the first time ever I thought a balaclava would be nice. My face was cold–no broken blood vessels, so we’ll call it good.
In the History of Sexuality class I’m teaching again with my colleague Ruth Alexander, we’re reading Heather Murray’s Not in This Family: Gays and the Meaning of Kinship in Postwar North America, which is a really interesting attempt to historicize the “coming out” process that characterizes the post-Gay Liberation era and injects a great deal of nuance into our understanding of how heterosexual parents dealt with gay and lesbian children from 1945 to 1990. In trying to find some video primary sources, I came across this interview with Lance Loud of the Loud family from An American Family. (Tenured Radical explains it all here.)
Our students didn’t seem to know quite what to do with Lance, which surprised me. They seemed as taken aback by his outness and out-thereness as Dick Cavett’s audience in 1973. Is it because that style of self-presentation seems too theatrical or over-the-top for this generation of college students, most of whom were born in the 1990s? I loved the clip, as it seems to have it all–the allusion to Deep Throat, calling his parents Blondie and Dagwood, suggesting that he had been subject to psychiatric intervention by his parents, and talking quite honestly about what coming out has meant for his relationship with his parents.
Lance was glorious, beautiful, and so determined to follow his bliss. He may have been (in his words) a “fat-assed opportunist,” but even without his reality-TV show fame, I’m sure he would have ended up partying with Andy Warhol at the Factory and playing at CBGBs anyway. See his mother Pat Loud’s reminiscences of her son after his untimely death at age 50 here. His band, the Mumps, is here: