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Panel discusses gay historian Alan Berube at the Center
by Tyler Gillespie
2012-02-15

This article shared 3831 times since Wed Feb 15, 2012
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The Crossroads Fund hosted an installment of its Reading Change book series at the Center on Halsted Feb. 8.

At the event, a panel of speakers discussed the writings of gay activist and historian Alan Berube included in the anthology My Desire for History: Essays in Gay, Community, and Labor History, which John D'Emilio and Estelle Freedman put together after Berube's death.

Berube is best-known for his work, Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II. He died in 2007.

"Berube started writing about gay history when very few people were talking or writing about gay history," said event moderator Jean Kracher, executive director of the Crossroads Fund.

The three celebrated activists on the panel—John D'Emilio, Kim Hunt and Tania Unzueta—talked about Berube's writing, which dealt with the intersection of race, class and sexuality.

"Besides the historical work," said panelist and anthology editor John D'Emilio, "the experience of meeting working class men that were like him kind of led [Berube] to understand contemporary politics in different ways."

Berube's essay "How Gay Stays White and What Kind of White it Stays" was the main piece the panel discussed. In the essay Berube wrote, "I want to know why I and other gay white men would want to challenge the racist structures of whiteness, what happens to us when we try, what makes me keep running away from the task, sometimes in silent despair, and what makes me want to go back to take up the task again."

The essay gave an analysis of oppression, including race, class and gender.

"Because of his examination of his whiteness, Berube is really an ally to LGBT people of color," said Kim Hunt, executive director of Affinity, a social-justice organization.

"We have to recognize that we are not a monolithic community," said Hunt. "Berube examined his whiteness in the context of the community…[I]t's easy to not look at nuance. Berube helped me connect with that in a different way."

The next installment of the Crossroads Fund Reading Change book series will take place March 21 at Hyde Park Arts Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., 6-8 p.m.

The event will feature Red Missed Aches author Jennifer Tamayo and will be a night of poetry, spoken word and performance.

The Reading Change book series is being held to commemorate 30 years of work by the Crossroads Fund.

For more information on the Crossroads Fund reading series, visit www.crossroadsfund.org/readingchange.


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