Steel Closets: Setting The Scene

The following is an excerpt from Anne Balay’s Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Steelworkers. Even as substantial legal and social victories are being celebrated within the gay rights movement, much of working-class America still exists outside the current narratives of gay liberation. In Steel Closets, Anne Balay draws on oral history interviews with… Continue Reading Steel Closets: Setting The Scene

Universal Human Rights Month: A Recommended Reading List

Nobody’s free until everybody’s free. Fannie Lou Hamer December marks the annual celebration of Universal Human Rights Month. The observance of this month began in 1948 when the U.N. wrote a document called The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document was created after World War II and was used to “properly define what human… Continue Reading Universal Human Rights Month: A Recommended Reading List

Anne Balay: For Transgender Steelworkers, Invisibility Isn’t an Option

Transgender steelworkers are the most vulnerable people I interviewed. The option of invisibility isn’t available to those who transition at work. And every change that shows, every single solitary detail, becomes a focus of teasing, harassment, violence, and abuse. Continue Reading Anne Balay: For Transgender Steelworkers, Invisibility Isn’t an Option

Anne Balay: Queer Steelworkers and Labor Unions

I asked him to recall all the people he has worked with—all his union brothers and sisters, down through the years—and count the gay ones. Almost surprised, he said there were none. Of course, he knew as well as I do that there have been many, but that they did not identify themselves as such. My task is then to convince him that their silence was not simply a choice, but rather that it was made in fear, and comes with crippling consequences. Continue Reading Anne Balay: Queer Steelworkers and Labor Unions

Anne Balay: The Consequences of Marriage Inequality

For my narrators—the forty transgender, lesbian, and gay steelworkers I interviewed—marriage is complicated. Insurance and survival benefits are not just theoretical issues for them. Continue Reading Anne Balay: The Consequences of Marriage Inequality

Anne Balay: As GLBT freedoms expand, who benefits–and who doesn’t

Queer rights becomes the paradigmatic symbol of the west – in Russia, gay liberation had gained some momentum until Putin linked gay rights with Western values, which then led to the systematic, legal oppression of gays in Russia today. The government is literally going into homes of gay people and taking their children away. And these Russian gays can’t hide, because during the period of comparative freedom, they had come out, and now have public personas. There’s no such thing as going back into the closet – once you’re out, that’s that. Their little window of freedom now targets them for state-sponsored abuse as the freedom and progress queers experience in the USA is used to punish queers globally. Continue Reading Anne Balay: As GLBT freedoms expand, who benefits–and who doesn’t