It’s that time of the year, plus cold, the Louds, and the Mumps

emptyskullI 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 parentBlondie 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:

10 thoughts on “It’s that time of the year, plus cold, the Louds, and the Mumps

  1. In engineering and natural sciences, we write papers; we seldom write books or chapters of books. We do seem to have it easier, although brevity and precision in writing are skills some have difficulty with.

    In our families, two sets of kids and two sets of grandkids, the LBGT world comes naturally in kids and close friends. All the weddings we attended in the last five years were gay wedding including two Christian long term friends married by a bisexual rabbi. (Only in America) We both, independently, got there out of genuine liberal conviction. Sadly, the closet is still full and quite crowded.


  2. Ugh. 4am.

    I am hoisting a warm, “caramel”-flavored beverage in your direction, hoping that when the final tally is done, you’ll be so much closer to votre deuxième livre.


  3. CPP–see the video featuring his mother. Pat Loud and Christopher Makos published a book just last year called Lance Out Loud, and that video is a promotion for the book. She tells a hilarious story about Lance writing fan mail to Andy Warhol at age 12 or so & getting a call at 3 a.m. Pacific Time from the man himself.

    You’re right that his self-awareness was incredible, and incredibly brave. You might also be interested in the movie made at the end of his life called Lance Loud! A Death in An American Family that aired on PBS.

    Lance (not Loud): I toast in your general direction, sir. We’re going out for Beer & Pie (this is a real thing) later this afternoon.


  4. You gave it a good shot. Books can’t actually be written on deadline, per se, although setting them and trying can be a valuable tool. I think I promised to try the 4 a.m. thing *once* this fall as a kind of electronic support group thing, and I fell off that wagon too. I’m betting you did it so well that when the book is in print, we won’t be able to detect the “speed-up” parts from the rest in any coherent way. When my grades are in I’m going back to my plan: up at 7 a.m., at the keyboard before lunch sometime, and stay at it with some steady rythym. Since I’m “writing backward” (i.e. cutting back at the over-luxuriant text), this seems the best way to go, or maybe the only way to go.


  5. I just ordered your last book yesterday for spring 14 semester assignment. Perhaps that will both make you feel better and motivate you to give me another to assign in the future…


  6. Thanks, Dutchie! I must get going so as to give you ANOTHER book by spring of 2016 or so.

    p.s. Let me know if you want to set up a Skype interview with me to answer student questions, etc. I’ve been doing this recently with my students & the authors of the books I assign when possible, and I’ve done this as a guest author for another professor’s class recently, too. It’s fun! And it’s good to show our students that the books they read were written by people who made particular choices, etc. So contact me if you want to work something like this out.


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