Show Me My Rights: Queer Activism in Kansas City and St. Louis, 1977-1993
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Radical queer (a term not in use at the time, but now more frequently employed) activists seized national headlines in the second half of the twentieth century with their fiery tactics, from so-called “die-ins” in the middle of church services to disrupting city council meetings. While many headline-grabbing protests took place in coastal cities typically characterized as queer havens, queer activists in the Heartland worked tirelessly for liberation from oppression. Queer historians in the 1990s and early 2000s tended to advance this coastal narrative, arguing that urbanization and large populations were necessary preconditions for queer activism. As they began searching elsewhere, scholars discovered evidence of thriving queer communities throughout the United States. The Kay Madden Collection at the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America, along with the St. Louis Lesbian and Gay Archives Collection at the State Historical Society of Missouri, shed light upon queer activism in Missouri. The challenges these activists faced, the resistance they displayed, and the coalitions they built with other activists provide examples of queer resistance in Kansas City and St. Louis. Queer activists in Missouri staged large protests, demanded equality, and built coalitions advocating for social reform. This thesis reveals that queer Missourians effectively challenged heteropatriarchal norms and were active participants in the gay liberation movement.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Local examples of oppression -- Queer political and social activism in Missouri -- Celebrations and visibility -- Coalition building between activist groups in Missouri -- Conclusion
M.A. (Master of Arts)