Oberlin College, Oberlin OH

October 4th, 2006 | Uncategorized

I had a great time today at Oberlin, my alma mater. Here I am wandering about nostalgically.

AB at Oberlin

Here’s my old mailbox.

box 227

oberlin auditorium

I got to speak in a well-appointed auditorium to a nice crowd of students who asked me hard questions, like am I going to address the Military Commissions Act in my comic strip, and how, as a white lesbian, do I feel I can write about people of color and trans characters. It was most invigorating.


Here I am with Lisa Hall, one of the professors in the Comparative American Studies department, which sponsored my visit.

lisa hall

I met the president of the college, Nancy S. Dye at a dinner in the atrium of the very ecologically correct Center for Environmental Studies. The dinner was mostly for Elizabeth Kolbert, but I got invited too. Kolbert was giving a big talk later about her book Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change. That’s why we ate in the solar-powered Center for Environmental Studies.

I cut out early to attend some of Lisa Hall’s class, Identities and Practices: Some Different Roots of Contemporary LGBT Communities of Color. First we listened to Ma Rainey, then we discussed the Lesbian Herstory Archives, and the Lisa asked us where we had seen representations of multiracial communities of gay people. Outside of my comic strip and Go Fish, no one could think of anything except porn. Porn and Ma Rainey! My college classes were never that interesting. Then Nancy Boutilier, of Girljock, OutLook, and now the Oberlin Department of Rhetoric and Composition, drove me back to Cleveland.

Tomorrow, home.

46 Responses to “Oberlin College, Oberlin OH”

  1. Deb says:

    It’s always interesting to go back to the old Alma Mater. The times I have, I have never had the welcome you have though. Glad you get to have these wonderful experiences.

  2. liz says:

    we are so glad you came. i definitely looked at a poster that was framed in wilder advertising one of your visits to campus awhile ago many times thinking, “how come i didn’t go to school here then?” i suggest you come at least once every four years so as to be an equal opportunity speaker. and so you can stay in touch with your ocmr.

  3. Al, et al. says:

    Allison– just to show myself as a total DTWOF geek and fan of all things Bechdelian, isn’t that first pic of the quad you were walking through when you first realized you were gay? I still have the copy of Gay Comix from the 1990’s that has your coming out story in it.

  4. Hey, Al, et al.
    Dang, no it’s not. I wish I’d gotten a picture of the coming out park.

  5. Lee says:

    i’m a recent oberlin alum, and was visiting this last weekend, but had to leave before you came to talk.
    most dissapointing.
    congrats on reconnecting with your ocmr (i couldn’t look at mine…too soon, too soon ::grins::)

  6. Kommishonerjenny says:

    …wish I’d been there for the discussion of why/how you can portray characters of color and trans characters. my partner and i have been hotly debating this lately, as you’re incredibly respectful and clued it. I would have loved to hear your response.

    And thanks for keeping the strips online. They’re a highlight of my week.

  7. bean says:

    when i was in college in the ‘8o’s, i took a class called “gay and lesbian literature.” among others, both white and of color, we read essex hemphil, cheryl clark, and of course, audre lorde. I also remember seeing the film “born in flames” for the first time around then. In my intro to women’s studies class, we read “this bridge called my back,” a book that forever changed how i thought about feminism, and white feminists.

    really pathetic that the only images of queer people of color that kids can think of now come from porn. In the ’80’s, we had more of an understanding about what porn has meant in the world, and how there just are not that many jobs available to people of color, and the ways in which porn fetishizes and sexualizes racist stereotypes. those images are not hard to find. they are the predominant images of people of color in porn. you have to work pretty hard to find the ones that are different.

  8. Duncan says:

    But then, bean, porn “fetishizes and sexualizes” *everybody.* And if “the only images of queer people of color that kids can think of now come from porn,” maybe kids now need to get out more. It’s not because other images aren’t available, but that people aren’t interested in them. I don’t think they’re all that hard to find, but anything outside of one’s established routines tends to seem remote and too much trouble, etc.

  9. Lisa says:

    Uh, duncan, “the kids” (?!) were specifically asked to think about where, if anywhere, they could remember seeing visual representations of multiracial queer *communities* in contemporary mass media. (And not a token queer poc in an otherwise all white world) They were not at all pleased at their conclusion that porn provides the most widely available images of interactions between lgbt people of various colors!

    To me, that lack is a crucial reason why Alison’s work has been/remains so important to so many in its utopic visual portrayal of a racially and ideologicially diverse collection of flawed and lovable characters.

  10. Feminista says:

    My sister and brother-in-law met at Oberlin and married there in 1970 (yes,they’re still together!) Prior to attending the wedding,I’d visited twice and spent the summer after h.s. graduation helping with a sociology research project,so I recognize the Quad,etc.

    I’m a longtime DTWOF fan/straight-but-not narrow ally; I enjoyed AB’s presentation at Powell’s in Portland. (Hello to other Oregonians.)

    My cousin in Mpls.,who bravely came out to the extended family in 1972,is also a fan.

    Alison,I’m so glad you’re finally getting the recognition you deserve.

  11. Zoe Trope says:


    Thanks again for coming to Oberlin, and thanks for signing my book, too. It was wonderful to hear you talk about your work and it really got me thinking about art/writing/life/etc. One student asked you, “Why do you do this?” You gave the best answer you could, but I think part of is just because you have to, right? What else is there? When you have such a long-standing relationship with something, it’s not necessarily about love and passion all the time. Some it’s compulsive, neurotic, obsessive. Or maybe that’s just how I see it.

    There are a couple pics of your lecture at my Flickr–

    And many flattering words about you on my blog, too–

    You deserve all of your success and more. I hope you’re enjoying it.


  12. kat says:

    Alison–was the question about people of color/trans people a challenge or someone wondering about your inspiration/sources?

    I ask because if it was asked as a challenge I wonder what that person thinks about fiction writing in general. Should one only write characters whose experiences are identical to one’s own? If yes, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose/definition of fiction?

    someone let me know if I’m taking this question too far afield!!

  13. Ann says:

    I wondered that, too, Al et al. I absolutely love that comic. It’s second only to Fun Home. Here’s a new word I learned today. Fun Home is a damned good bildungsroman.

  14. *tania says:

    i was ocmr 1483! that auditorium wasn’t even there when i graduated. and they even have a gender studies major now. jeepers, i’m old. didja get me a peters keychain?

  15. Christopher says:


    Tonight I went to an event at Walker Art Center (see below.) Fully HALF of the group believed you were going to be there. (I know this because we did introductions.) I mean, what could be better than Alison Bechdel (hot!) and Robert Kirby (hot!) in the same room?

    So (after receiving an enthusiatic invitation from my neighbor, Nancy, calling the Walker to ask about Alison Bechdel’s READING and turning around to tell several friends), I sat in eager anticipation of being able to ask my literary shero questions. A group of seventy-plus-year old women behind me were whispering, “I thought she was going to be here. I couldn’t get in at Amazon.” (Note to blog readers: word has it that 250 people were turned away from Alison’s reading at Amazon Bookstore Cooperative–the inspiration for Madwimmin Books–in Minneapolis in July.)

    No! She isn’t going to be here. Sigh…

    I sat facing the glass doors. During the ensuring book discussion (great discussion and this book is well-loved), I saw THREE of the Twin Cities’ women writers approach the door and peer in. I suspect they thought you’d be here, too.

    I’ve been reading DTWOF since the beginning and am one of the gay men who wanted to be a dyke in the late 80s. Who wouldn’t? Camping in Michigan, hanging out with Holly Near, political activism, cooperative living, bookstores with values, two-tone hair, scaring the hell out of the dominant power structure… (OK, so there is that part about sleeping with women that I can’t do.)

    I’ve stopped sulking about not seeing you tonight.

    I decided to write and say THANK YOU, Alison, for many years of great writing, inspiring me to live by my core values, and work for positive social change in my community.

    And, please, return soon. You are loved by so many of us.


    * * * * * * * * * *
    The Artist’s Bookshelf: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

    Book Club
    Thursday, October 5
    7:00 pm
    Barnes Conference Room
    Free, but reservations required; call 612.375.7600.

    Explore the complex relationship between text and image in Alison Bechdel’s new graphic novel Fun Home. Best known as the author/artist of the long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, Bechdel offers readers a more personal, revealing memoir with this illustrated story that proves just how literary a graphic novel can be. Guest moderated by cartoonist Robert Kirby, author of Curbside and Boy Trouble. Books are available in the Walker Shop and at the Minneapolis Public Library.

  16. julia says:

    in response to kat, i know both of the askers of those questions, and i think they were honestly interested in alison’s response (although not entirely unaware of their rabble rousing nature). i think it’s not so much that in fiction or comics or whatever form you take that you are incapable of broaching subjects that are foriegn to you, or that eli was implying that in his question, but that you must realize that you may be coming from a position of privilege and that to do an acurate protrayal of a member of another group you have to make sure you’ve paid close attention and you can still make mistakes. and i think alison basically responded to that effect.

    anyway, what i really wanted to say was that i sincerely enjoyed the talk. not that i couldn’t have enjoyed it otherwise, but as a writer and a queer girl i could really relate to a lot of what was happening and i’m looking forward to the struggle of being a writer first and foremost who happens to write about lesbians & queer people of all sorts.

    but most of all, i was excited to learn that i share the name of alison’s cat.

  17. Andrew O. says:

    Alison Bechdel is an artist, and wonderfully empathetic to experiences other than her own. If she hadn’t included people of color etc. she’d be criticized and questioned for that. Personally I’m tired of the holier than thou self righteousness implicit in the question and the response. (You’re at Oberlin; isnt’ tht a positon of of privilege right there?) But it sounds like Alison answered with her usual intelligence and graciousness.

  18. kat says:

    julia–thanks for the clarification.

    For whatever reason, I’m still stuck on the thought, though, that writers are supposed to reach out into situations/personalities/experiences that are foreign. I suppose that’s where julia’s “paying close attention” and Andrew O’s mention of empathy come in….

    ‘nyway, thanks.

    p.s. I walk by a little bookstore on my way to work. They have a big window display for Banned Books week. I think that I should go in an ask them to display Fun Home as well.

    What does the blogosphere think?

  19. Dweeb says:

    Regarding exposure to multi-racial communities of gay people, or exposure to gay culture at all, I can say from my experience as a young ‘un in the 80s that I first discovered DTWOF in the now defunct National Lampoon Magazine. NatLamp was widely available until some lobbying group forced 7-11 convenience stores to stop carrying “porn.” NatLamp was pigeon-holed with the porn, and eventually folded.

    There were scads of women’s newspapers and alternative papers during that time also, usually available at bookstores, clubs, and headshops.

    Despite the fact that we live in the “information age,” I can tell you that, living in a black neighborhood, my neighbors don’t have computers and can barely keep their telephone service on sometimes, nevermind have internet access.

    Print media is more expensive than ever and people are concentrating on the web to reach out to communities, but I tell ya, we gotta have some good publications to reach out to all women who are trying to have a decent life and gain more respect in the world.

  20. Dweeb says:

    Oh yeah, and while I’m on the subject, comic stores these days carry almost nothing but DC/Marvel type comics. The graphic novels they carry are mostly Heavy Metal and various fantasy books. Ask if they carry “undergrounds” and you’re shit outta luck.

  21. Eli, the question-asker says:

    Hi folks. I wasn’t going to get involved here, but now I feel I should let you know what I was actually asking, because I think Alison misunderstood a bit (which is understandable–it was near the end of the questions, and she’s nearing the end of a grueling book tour!).

    First off, I should put things in context by saying Alison was asked to speak by the Comparative American Studies department in which I am a major, which, according to its website, “is an interdisciplinary program that examines issues of power and identity formation in the United States through the lenses of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality…. the program is distinctive in that it pursues comparative approaches to analyzing identities, territories, and modes of social change.” (You can read more here: http://www.oberlin.edu/CAS/) She was also asked to speak as part of the Multicultural Resource Center’s series My Name Is My Own, which is a series specifically about the intersections of race, sexuality, and identity. I’m not on the planning committee this year, but I have been in the past, so I know a good deal about it. The series was formed (as I understand it) to do programming that addresses the particular experiences and concerns of queer & trans people of color, because most of the queer & trans programming that was going on around campus up until that time was very white-centered, as it is on most campuses. For all of those reasons, when in the past we have invited white speakers, it was with the understanding that they would be talking about their work in a way that was specifically centered around race. So as a DTWOF fan, I was expecting to go to a talk where Alison talked about race and ethnicity in her work, which isn’t quite what it ended up to be.

    So my question came first and foremost out of that–wanting to hear what she had to say on those issues. I asked not how Alison as a white lesbian feels she can represent communities of which she is not a part at all, but –how she holds herself accountable to queer & trans people of color communities in her representations of them–. She heard this as people of color -and- trans people, which is fine. She answered (and you can correct me if I’m wrong here, Alison 🙂 ) that she really tries to listen and take feedback on her strip seriously into account, and that the internet has really facilitated that (as we’re illustrating right now!).

    I, as a white queer trans person, hold myself and other white folks to a pretty high standard when it comes to being accountable to communities of color and being very conscious about our privilege and internalized white supremacy in all we do, art included. I try to mentor other white activists here at Oberlin who are new to thinking about white privilege and anti-racism, and ask that my friends (both white and of color) help me keep myself in check on my own stuff as well. That’s one way that I strive to maintain my accountability as an activist and an artist.

    You’re right, Andrew, Alison is an artist, and a very consciously political one. For that reason in particular I’m sure she’s thought about these issues before, and so I was genuinely asking my question wanting to hear her answer, not meaning to challenge (although, yes, I was aware that the question could be perceived that way). We white folks generally aren’t asked these questions at all, and I think that’s why it’s especially important that we ask them of each other. Otherwise it’s too easy not to think about, period. I really was not asking from a holier than thou place–I strive very hard to consciously and continually examine my own place in the world as a white, class privileged person, and not allow my transness and queerness to mean I slip into justifying not thinking about these things. A big part of that is about working with my friends and fellow white activists to talk and think about our work (activist, academic, artistic–though it’s hard to separate the three) and challenge each other to not slip back into the entitled, “color blind” patterns we’re trained into as white liberals. So, since Alison is someone whose thinking and work I respect, I wanted to hear how she strives to do that for herself in her work.

    I hope that clarifies some things.

  22. Dweeb says:

    What’s ocmr?

  23. --MC says:

    Huh, what? DTWO4 used to appear in National Lampoon?
    The quad at Oberlin will probably become a destination stop for future tourists, who will have themselves photographed walking in young Alison’s fateful footsteps, much like they do at the zebra crossing outside Abbey Road.

  24. tallie says:

    okay eli, if i were at oberlin, i would totally ask you out, just for that response.

  25. an Onymouse says:

    Dweeb: OCMR stands for Oberlin College Mail Room, and it’s what we call our mailboxes at Oberlin, like a college-specific version of PO Box.

  26. Dweeb says:

    –MC, I’m almost positive it did. I saw someone mention Gay Comix, but I think I only have one issue of that and I don’t think DTWOF is in it.

  27. kat says:

    Thanks Eli, I appreciate your clarification! I got really stuck in the “but of course she hasn’t lived these people’s experiences–they’re fictional characters!!” argument, and I’m very glad that you’ve shared the real nature of your quandries!!
    thank you again…

  28. Duncan says:

    dweeb, DTWOF is not in Gay Comix, but Gay Comix did put out a special Alison Bechdel issue which included several autobiographical pieces, including her coming-out story. I think all of them were reprinted in The Indelible AB.

  29. hot FTM boyfriend says:

    tallie: I’m Eli’s boyfriend, and I can just imagine his blushing. He does do long-distance poly relationships, so, you know, feel free to actually ask him out.

  30. Duncan says:

    Oh, and uh, lisa, what you said just confirmed and repeated what I’d said: that if “the only images of queer people of color that kids can think of now come from porn,” then they just aren’t seeing what is there. I’m thinking of the gay men who embraced the dreary “Brokeback Mountain”, claiming that never before had a movie been made which would show straight people that “we can love,” that we’re “normal”, that we’re not all screaming fairies. It just showed that they too, needed to pay more attention to what existed.

    But then you changed the stipulation to “where they could remember seeing visual representations of multiracial queer *communities* in contemporary mass media.” Good lord. I don’t really want the contemporary corporate media (= mass media) to handle such matters, since they “fetishize and sexualize” everything no less than porn does, if in somewhat different ways. *This* reminds me of the screensaver slideshow from the Indelible Alison Bechdel, another ‘speculative’ strip showing DTWOF Inc., with Mo opposing attempts to put more lesbian Republican real-estate brokers of northern European descent into the strip, to commercialize it in a corporate-media style with focus groups and the like. (Hm… come to think of it, Cynthia’s well on the way to fulfilling that demand!)

    I agree: I want to see more stories about gay people of all kinds. I love and am really grateful for Alison’s work, which is wonderful in its coverage of various issues and populations. But she can’t do it all by herself. I once wrote a column for the student paper here, mentioning DTWOF and the way that Alison feels pressure to represent everybody. It’s fine that she does the strip as she wishes, but what we need is for more people to do such things in ways that suit them. They won’t necessarily be “diverse” in the university diversity-management style, but that’s good too. In Marge Piercy’s novel Woman on the Edge of Time, she has one of her characters say that no one artwork can say all truth, but a culture’s artworks collectively should strive for it. Instead of wanting a gay version of Friends from the commercial mass media (the very thought makes me ill), people need to start paying more attention to, and supporting, NON-mass media.

  31. Lisa says:

    I’m not sure what assumptions are underlying your comment, Duncan. The whole point of the original class discussion was about the need for knowledge of and transmission of non-mainstream sources of imagery and information. We were not in any way assuming that contemporary corporate media should “handle such matters,” merely cataloguing what you would see if that’s all you had access to.

    It can be a Catch-22; if you’re not already of a mindset to search for alternative representations you may not be exposed to things that would foster that mindset.

    There are other serious access issues; Dweebs’ post really resonated for me that in the 80s:

    “There were scads of women’s newspapers and alternative papers during that time also, usually available at bookstores, clubs, and headshops.
    Despite the fact that we live in the “information age,” I can tell you that, living in a black neighborhood, my neighbors don’t have computers and can barely keep their telephone service on sometimes, nevermind have internet access.”

    I’ve worked with several feminist small presses, been an editor for the sadly defunct Out/look quarterly and coordinated the first couple of years of the national Out/Write lesbian and gay writer’s conferences. I am depressingly aware of the need for more attention ato nd support of non-mass media and that is an ongoing issue within the themes of the class.

  32. lee says:

    I second Christopher – come back to Minneapolis!

  33. Ellen O. says:

    As an Oberlin Alum (’83), I’m wowed but not really surprised by the depth and soulfulness of the exchanges here.

    And if I were a gay gay and 20 years younger, I’d ask out Eli too.

    OCMR #1612 (once upon a time…)

  34. Dweeb says:

    Duncan said

    “Good lord. I don’t really want the contemporary corporate media (= mass media) to handle such matters, since they “fetishize and sexualize” everything no less than porn does, if in somewhat different ways.”

    Once upon a time, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, what is now the contemporary corporate media really WAS the left wing media Republicans decry today, and it was widely available on broadcast television.

    Republicans have never forgotten the glory days of investigative journalism, i.e. left wing media.

    Sure, Woodward and Bernstein were there, but a helluva lotta others were, too. Back in the olden days, when folks made their own coffee at home and never dreamed of putting whipped cream in it, Geraldo Rivera was an investigative journalist, not just another Jerry Springer shock show host.

    I remember Geraldo, Linda Ellerby and Lloyd Dobbins on network news magazine shows, (new at the time), reporting on racism, classism, consumer issues, and gay issues.

    Then somewhere in there, Carter left office and all of a sudden it’s as if all of that television never happened, none of that history ever happened, and someone vowed it’d never be seen, heard, or mentioned again.

  35. anonymous-eponymous says:

    Films that portray lesbians of other than white races, interacting with each other in one way or another:
    “The Watermelon Woman”
    “When Night Is Falling”
    “Bar Girls”
    “High Art”

    “Love and Rockets”

    All of those mentioned are at least as popular as “Go Fish” and “Dykes to Watch Out For”.

    What struck me as interesting is that I’ve also read a number of excellent novels in which women of color play a significant (lesbian) role; but they are all science fiction or fantasy. Also, the women aren’t portrayed as belonging to a large community of lesbians. This may be due to the genre; crisis follows crisis so rapidly that time for hanging out at the local coffee shop or picking women up at the local bar or even having some over for dinner or marching in a pride parade isn’t available; in fact, coffee shops, bars and pride marches often arent portrayed at all in these novels. Novels that immediately came to mind are:

    “Evolution’s Shore” by Ian McDonald
    “Floating Worlds” by Cecilia Holland
    “The Women and the Warlords” (published in the US as “The Oracle”) by Hugh Cook

    I’m not sure if insisting on a “community” isn’t itself somehow enforcing a dominant stereotype of lesbian life. I live in a town where I’ve overheard lesbians speak of “The Community”, meaning the queer community. There are quite a few lesbians in the town, and I have a passing acquaintance with some of them, and some of them are women of color, and they may form a community, but it is not one to which I belong except in some very formal or abstract sense. I don’t have frequent interactions with members of this group. I was ostracized from one somewhat formal athletic/social group by the studied minor rudenessess of the lesbian members. On the other hand I do belong to a multiracial and multinational community of scientists; ones who have taken up residence in this town to pursue further studies in their discipline. Among them I am on the whole welcomed, cordially treated, and respected.

    Of course, I benefit from the existence of a group of lesbians in the same town as me even if I don’t belong to it. For instance, there are enough lesbians here that Alison Bechdel actually visited on one of her previous book tours. And I sat there, surrounded by lesbians, and enjoyed her presentation very much. I even bought the book; and it’s a keeper.

  36. tallie says:

    hot FTM boyfriend:
    okay, you just made ME blush.
    um, so. my email address is tallie_bird@hotmail.com. i would love to talk to either one of you about anti-racist activism, acadamia, polyamory, and builing coaltions across state lines.
    yup. still blushing.

  37. tallie says:

    um apparently the blood rushing to my face made me misspell every other word. apologies.

  38. Ann says:

    Dweeb, they don’t even know what undergrounds are anymore.

  39. Ellie A says:

    Wow. I love Oberlin and I love Alison Bechdel. It’s always nice to feel like a part of a place with such an ingrained culture of challenge, inquiry, and collaboration. When I graduated, the Comparative American Studies program was just beginning. I’m glad that it seems to be thriving.

    I’m also impressed by Eli’s question. At Oberlin, I would sometimes be very frustrated at running into folks asking a more narrow-minded version of that question. Thanks for taking the discussion-at-Oberlin in a productive direction.

    -OCMR 0037

  40. Aunt Soozie says:

    Do you remember Linda Ellerby being on a news program that aired sometime after night was over but before morning had begun?

    I visited Maude’s in San Francisco (before even the dinosaurs) and had an Irish Coffee with a spritz of whipped cream on top.

  41. Connor says:

    Just wanted to thank you again for stopping by, Alison. It was a fascinating lecture and I’m hawking your book to anyone who’ll listen. I’m glad you enjoyed your stay with us – we certainly enjoyed having you on campus. (And all of my dyke pals who were at rugby practice and couldn’t attend your talk will not stop bitching about missing it.)

    Keep in touch!

  42. Deena in OR says:

    Aunt Soozie…wasn’t it called Overnight???Noooo…that’s not it…can’t remember now..but an awesome show. On in the early eighties on….ABC, I think??? Do you remember the insider book about being a network reporter that she wrote? I used to own a copy…forgotten the name of it for the moment.

    I used to be a big World News Now fan, too. Back when Thalia Assuras and Anderson Cooper were the cohosts.

  43. Anonymous says:

    You have it right, Deena. Linda Ellerbee was on NBC News Overnight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Ellerbee

  44. Anonymous says:

    Hey Alison– I couldn’t make it to your reading, but I went to the bookstore and bought “Fun Home” on an impulse…and it was one of the greatest investments I have made in a long time.

    The “Delta of Venus” reference (pg. 76) made my day. That cell was pretty much me from grades 10-12…literally.

    I’ve only read the first chapter of “Fun Home” so far, and it’s brilliant. Keep up the amazing work!

    -An Appreciative Obie

  45. Duncan says:

    anonymous-eponymous, thanks for that listing. As I said, there is more than just “pornography” out there (though many mainstream Americans would consider most of your items to be pornography). Which doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be more. Alison can’t do it all! The trouble from where I sit is that there isn’t enough support for what glbt media and resources we *do* have. I do my best, but I can’t do it alone either.

    Lisa: “It can be a Catch-22; if you’re not already of a mindset to search for alternative representations you may not be exposed to things that would foster that mindset.” Yes: if you’re of a mindset to look only to porn for “alternative representations” of glbt people, porn is what you’ll find. And what *is* that mindset you’re talking about? I would have thought that being queer would be reason enough to look for “alternative representations” of human life.

    It’s strange. I grew up in rural Indiana in the 1950s and 60s, yet I managed to find quite a bit of alternative material in the libraries. It was not all that encouraging, but it was there. “The Nation” was in my high school library — not a gay paper, of course, but it connected me to ideas that few in my own area would have expressed.

    As far as access, you’re right. But the resources that were created in the 70s did not receive much support from the glbt community at large; that is why they aren’t there any more. (Alison is aware of this: look at the strips that deal with Madwimmin Books over the years, especially its closing.) I spent years involved with groups here in Bloomington IN that tried to come up with more social space and other resources for gay folks. “There’s nothing to do in this boring town,” the college students would whine. “Why not go to the gay dance on campus this weekend?” I’d ask them. “Oh, no, it’s too boring,” they’d whine. “It’s just a meat market — all anyone there thinks of is sex. And I never got laid there — none of the hot guys would go for anyone who looked like me, they’re so looksist.” And so on. Access to resources is a two-way street: people have to use them, too.

    Dweeb: “Once upon a time, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, what is now the contemporary corporate media really WAS the left wing media Republicans decry today, and it was widely available on broadcast television.” Um, no. Woodward and Bernstein was a brief blip, not an expression of liberalism. (It had more to do with the Nixon regime going after the wrong people: wealthy and powerful Democrats instead of scruffy poor people and leftists.) I’m one of those dinosaurs you mention (though I still roam the earth), and I remember very well how the corporate media cozied up to the government in the 60s and 70s. The line on Vietnam, for instance, ran the gamut from frothing hawks to the notion that perhaps we were in a quagmire and the price we were paying was too high. (The price the Vietnamese were paying didn’t begin to register) As for coverage of gay issues — ! No, there was no golden age of corporate media. Take a look at the career of I. F. Stone, or Noam Chomsky’s early
    political writings.

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