Sunday, November 16, 2014

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight was an American historian, activist, independent scholar, self-described "community-based" researcher and college drop-out, and award-winning author. He is best known for his research and writing about homosexual members of the American Armed Forces during World War II. Today's Out Spotlight is Allan Bérubé.

Allan Bérubé was born December 3, 1946, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lived with his family in Monson, Massachusetts, and later in a trailer park near the waterfront in Bayonne, New Jersey. He lived for a time in Boston and for many years in San Francisco. He moved to New York City, and finally settled in Liberty, New York.

Bérubé is best known for his 1990 book, “Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two.” He posits that servicemen and women during the war found the freedom to explore sexuality in a relatively judgment-free environment. When these soldiers returned home, many settled into a domestic heterosexual lifestyle that launched the baby boom. But a few, knowing they were not as “deviant” as they had been led to believe, decided to stand up against homosexual persecution.

Though he dropped out of college, Bérubé maintained a lifelong passion for scholarship. In 1976 Jonathan Ned Katz’s “Gay American History” inspired Bérubé to conduct his own research. He helped to form the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project. In 1979 he created a slideshow titled “Lesbian Masquerade” about 19th-century women who had passed as men. The presentation became popular and was shown repeatedly in the San Francisco Bay area.

Due to his local celebrity, Bérubé received from an acquaintance the letters of Harold Clark. These letters detailed Clark’s friendships with other gay men during World War II. Bérubé created a second slideshow lecture, which he toured with across the country. His work inspired veterans to contribute their stories to the project. Thus began the 10-year journey that culminated in the publication of “Coming Out Under Fire.”

In 1990 “Coming Out Under Fire” received the Lambda Literary Award for outstanding Gay Men’s Nonfiction and influenced the U.S. Senate’s 1993 hearings on the exclusion of lesbians and gay men from the military. A documentary adaptation of the book won a Peabody Award.

Bérubé passed away December 11, 2006, in Liberty, NY.

The records of Bérubé's life and work are preserved by the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, of which he was a founding member. Bérubé donated the research and administrative files of his World War II Project to the society in 1995, with an accretion in 2000 (collection no. 1995-16). That collection is processed and open to researchers; a finding aid is available on the Web at the Online Archive of California.

Bérubé also donated the records of the Forget-Me-Nots (collection no. 1989-10), an affinity group of which he was a member; the group performed civil disobedience at the United States Supreme Court during the 1987 Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, with each participant protesting in honor of an individual who had died of AIDS.
Following Bérubé's death, the executors of his estate donated his complete personal and professional papers to the Historical Society. The society has processed the papers, opened them to researchers and posted an online finding aid; the collection includes more than 75 linear feet (150-plus boxes) of records. A number of other collections of personal papers and organizational records at the GLBT Historical Society also include correspondence from Bérubé and other material documenting his work; details are available by searching the society's online catalog of manuscript collections
 “The massive mobilization for World War II relaxed the social constraints of peacetime that had kept gay men and women unaware of … each other.”


Florida Tom said...

Expect to see Jake more and more. He is really one of about 6 actors that in the running for that 5th spot for an Oscar nom. 4 experts out of about 16 are picking him to get the 5th spot. It would be a big deal in his career.

just passing by said...

Oh there's no question Jake and his team is campaigning hard for that fifth spot! They're all over the map! LOL. If he manage to win a major critic's award and/or get both a Golden Globe and Spirited Independent Award nomination I'm sure he'll win an Oscar nomination. I mean it's been nearly nine years since Jake's nomination for Brokeback and since that time his Brokeback co-stars have done very well with Oscar. Michelle has won two additional nominations. Anne's won and even in death Heath Ledger deservedly won an Oscar. I'm sure Jake is probably thinking he would like to get back into the ring and from all accounts Nightcrawler could do it for him.