Sarah Schulman’s writing is bold, provocative, and refreshingly unrepentant. First published in 1994, My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan and Bush Years combines critical commentary with a rich and varied collection of news articles, letters, interviews, and reports in which the author traces the development of lesbian and gay politics in the U.S. In her coverage of many tireless campaigns of activism and resistance, Sarah Schulman documents a powerful political history that most people – gay or straight – never knew happened.
In her Preface to this second edition, Urvashi Vaid argues for the continued relevance of Schulman’s writing to activism in the 21st century, particularly in light of the resurgence of the right in American politics. Also included is a selection of articles by Sarah Schulman for Womanews, in their original print format, with illustrations by Alison Bechdel. The book closes with an interview with the author, conducted by Steven Thrasher, especially for this new edition. It explores AIDS and homophobia during the Reagan/Bush administrations and at the dawn of the Trump era.
My American History is a collection that gives voice to both the personal and political struggles of feminist and lesbian and gay communities in the 1980s. It is an important historical record that will enlighten and inform activists, as well as academics of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, in the 21st century.
Table of Contents
Preface to Second Edition by Urvashi Vaid; Foreword to the First Edition by Urvashi Vaid; Preface to the First Edition: My Life as an American Artist; Introduction; Part I: Essays 1981-1994; 1981 Fear and Loathing on the Hallelujah Trail (Address); An Open Letter (with Stephanie Roth) (Womanews) 1982 Tensions Run High as Reproductive Rights Activists Form Coalitions (off our backs); Critical History of Black Women (Womanews); The Convention (Womanews); Nyack and a History of Strategies Disputed (Womanews); The Pro-Family Left (Womanews); Riding the Go-Go Bus Home: An Interview with Diane Torr (Womanews); Who Wants to Drive Blues out of Business? (with Peg Byron) (Womanews) 1983 Fifteen Hour Circus Ends in Arrests (Womanews); Gay Books Back in School (New York Native); I Have My Doubts about the Seneca Peace Encampment (Womanews); Zaps Off with Fines after Threatening Congress (Womanews); Adrienne Rich Transformed by Nicaraguan Visit (Gay Community News) 1984 Low Marks for German Democracy (Womanews) 1985 Entry Fee Disputed at Black Lesbian Bar (Gay Community News); Feds Stop Anti-Violence Grants to Women's Groups: Cite Lesbian Rights as Anti-Family (New York Native); AIDS Reported in the Soviet Union (New York Native); New York: A Mass of Individually Beautiful Faces (Gay Community News Travel Supplement); A.C.L.U. Founds Gay Project (New York Native); AIDSPAC Established by DC Group (New York Native); Lip-Synching at Shescape (New York Native); Straight Ads Hurt Gay Firm (New York Native); Saving Our Space on the Lower East Side: An Interview with Marguerita Lopez (Womanews); Health or Homophobia? Responses to the Bathhouse Guidelines (New York Native); Koch Ready to Close More Bathhouses (New York Native); Committee Resolves to Close Baths: Maloney Joins Anti-Gay Sellout; Gay Activist Arrested (New York Native); Becoming an Angry Mob in the Best Sense: Lesbians Respond to AIDS Hysteria (New York Native) 1986 When We Were Very Young: A Walking Tour through Radical Jewish Women's History on the Lower East Side 1879-1919 (The Tribe of Dina, Sinister Wisdom); Court Battles Continue in Lesbian Visitation Case (New York Native); Joy of Gay Sex Removed from Brooklyn Libraries (New York Native); Desert Hearts (Gay Community News); Heal Thyself (New York Native); Jean Genet (New York Native); Third World Gays Important Presence at Anti-Apartheid March (New York Native); Is Lesbian Culture Only for Beginners? (New York Native); Wake-Up, AIDS Hysteria Will Change Your Life (Womannews) 1987 Queens Triumph at Waldorf-Astoria Bash (Seattle Gay News) 1988 Women Need Not Apply: Institutional Discrimination in AIDS Drug Trials (Village Voice); Thousands May Die in the Streets: AIDS and the Homeless (The Nation); The Left and Passionate Homosexuality: Presented at the Socialist Scholars Conference (Gay Community News); Children and AIDS: Depate Stirred over Placebo Tests (New York Native); Taking Responsibility: Co-Dependence and the Myth of Recovery by Kay Hagen (Outweek) 1990 AIDS and the Responsibility of the Writer (Address, Outwrite); Outing: The Closet is Not a Right (Village Voice); Is the NEA Good for Gay Art? (Outweek); Eileen Myles (Interview) 1991 What Ideals Guide Our Actions? (Outlook); Delusions of Gender (Village Voice); Whatever Happened to Lesbian Activism? (Address, The Lesbian and Gay Center); Why I Fear the Future (in Critical Fictions); Laying the Blame: What Magic Johnson Really Means (Guardian); Thelma, Louise, and the Movie Management of Rape (Cineaste) 1992 Fame, Shame, and Kaposi's Sarcoma: New Themes in Lesbian and Gay Film (Address); Consumed by Neglect: Who is to Blame for the TB Epidemic? (Village Voice); The Denial of AIDS and the Construction of a Fake Life (Address, Outwrite); Tokyo Rose (QW); Coming to Terms: An Interview with Carole DeSanti (Lambda Book Report); What Is the Role of Gay Film Festivals? (Address); I Was a Lesbian Child; Why I'm Not a Revolutionary (Address, The Publishing Triangle); Letter to Jennifer Dunning (Turn-Out) 1993 United Colors of Homophobia (The Nation); A Modest Proposal (Outwrite) Part II: The Lesbian Avengers The Lesbian Avengers Part One; The Lesbian Avengers Part Two; The Lesbian Avengers Part Three: Excerpts from The Lesbian Avengers Handbook (April 1993, compiled by Sarah Schulman with contributions from Marlene Colburn, Phyllis Lutsky, Maxine Wolke, Amy Parker, Sue Schaffner, Carrie Moyer and Ana Maria Simo; The Lesbian Avengers Part Four: The Freedom Ride; Conclusion; Articles by Sarah Schulman for WomaNews, 1984; Interview with Sarah Schulman by Steven Thrasher
Sarah Schulman is Distinguished Professor of English at the College of Staten Island, CUNY, USA. She is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer, AIDS historian, journalist, and active participant citizen.