Out of the Closet, Into the Archives: Researching Sexual Histories

SUNY Press
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 The first book to focus on the experience of LGBT archival research.
Out of the Closet, Into the Archives takes readers inside the experience of how it feels to do queer archival research and queer research in the archive. The archive, much like the closet, exposes various levels of public and privateness—recognition, awareness, refusal, impulse, disclosure, framing, silence, cultural intelligibility—each mediated and determined through subjective insider/outsider ways of knowing. The contributors draw on their experiences conducting research in disciplines such as sociology, African American studies, English, communications, performance studies, anthropology, and women’s and gender studies. These essays challenge scholars to engage with their affective experience of being in the archive, illuminating how the space of the archive requires a different kind of deeply personal, embodied research.
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About the author

 Amy L. Stone is Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Trinity University and author of Gay Rights at the Ballot Box. Jaime Cantrell is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Mississippi.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Nov 20, 2015
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Pages
372
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ISBN
9781438459059
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Gay Studies
Social Science / Lesbian Studies
Social Science / Women's Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Fiesta San Antonio began in 1891 with a parade, the Battle of Flowers, in honor of the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Similar in many ways to Mardi Gras, the parade has evolved into a ten-day annual festival in April attended by four million with more than a hundred colorful and cultural events raising money for nonprofit organizations in San Antonio, Texas.

Cornyation has played an important role in the transformation of Fiesta. When Fiesta began, many of the events were exclusive and run by San Antonio social elites. One of the most prominent events was the Coronation of the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, a lavish debutante pageant that crowned a queen of the festival. Cornyation was created in 1951 by members of the San Antonio Little Theater as a stage show and satire of the Coronation of the Queen, mocking the elite by creating their own flamboyant duchesses, empresses, and queens, often represented as men in drag and local political figures in off-color situations and outrageous costumes.

The show quickly evolved into a controversial parody of local and national politics and culture, and by the end of the decade the Cornyation culture had helped to shift Fiesta into a more inclusive citywide event. While this was not the show's intention, Cornyation allowed women and men from across the city to participate in Fiesta and created a space for satirical humor directed at a more mainstream audience. Although kicked out of Fiesta in the mid-1960s for vulgarity, in the 1980s the event was revived in a gay bar in downtown San Antonio and went on to become one of the most popular events of the festival, with six stage shows selling out annually to more than ten thousand people.

Cornyation is the first history of this major Fiesta San Antonio event, tracing how it has become one of Texas’s iconic and longest-running LGBT events, and one of the Southwest's first large-scale fundraisers for HIV-AIDS research, raising more than $2.5 million since 1990.

More than one hundred vintage and contemporary photographs and hundreds of oral histories and stories document the show's history, highlighting the fact that it has always been a “party with a purpose” that attracts a broad audience, satirizes elites and politics, and creates a place for the public display of campy gay humor. Cornyation tells the story of this important LGBTQ event in the context of San Antonio, the Fiesta festival, and the growth of the gay and lesbian community in the Southwest.
“I am most grateful for two things: that I was born in North Korea, and that I escaped from North Korea.”

Yeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before has she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape.

Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country’s dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market, a risk he took in order to provide for his wife and two young daughters, Yeonmi and her family were branded as criminals and forced to the cruel margins of North Korean society. With thirteen-year-old Park suffering from a botched appendectomy and weighing a mere sixty pounds, she and her mother were smuggled across the border into China.

I wasn’t dreaming of freedom when I escaped from North Korea. I didn’t even know what it meant to be free. All I knew was that if my family stayed behind, we would probably die—from starvation, from disease, from the inhuman conditions of a prison labor camp. The hunger had become unbearable; I was willing to risk my life for the promise of a bowl of rice. But there was more to our journey than our own survival. My mother and I were searching for my older sister, Eunmi, who had left for China a few days earlier and had not been heard from since.

Park knew the journey would be difficult, but could not have imagined the extent of the hardship to come. Those years in China cost Park her childhood, and nearly her life.  By the time she and her mother made their way to South Korea two years later, her father was dead and her sister was still missing. Before now, only her mother knew what really happened between the time they crossed the Yalu river into China and when they followed the stars through the frigid Gobi Desert to freedom. As she writes, “I convinced myself that a lot of what I had experienced never happened. I taught myself to forget the rest.”

In In Order to Live, Park shines a light not just into the darkest corners of life in North Korea, describing the deprivation and deception she endured and which millions of North Korean people continue to endure to this day, but also onto her own most painful and difficult memories. She tells with bravery and dignity for the first time the story of how she and her mother were betrayed and sold into sexual slavery in China and forced to suffer terrible psychological and physical hardship before they finally made their way to Seoul, South Korea—and to freedom.

Still in her early twenties, Yeonmi Park has lived through experiences that few people of any age will ever know—and most people would never recover from. Park confronts her past with a startling resilience, refusing to be defeated or defined by the circumstances of her former life in North Korea and China. In spite of everything, she has never stopped being proud of where she is from, and never stopped striving for a better life. Indeed, today she is a human rights activist working determinedly to bring attention to the oppression taking place in her home country.

Park’s testimony is rare, edifying, and terribly important, and the story she tells in In Order to Live is heartbreaking and unimaginable, but never without hope. Her voice is riveting and dignified. This is the human spirit at its most indomitable.
Fiesta San Antonio began in 1891 with a parade, the Battle of Flowers, in honor of the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Similar in many ways to Mardi Gras, the parade has evolved into a ten-day annual festival in April attended by four million with more than a hundred colorful and cultural events raising money for nonprofit organizations in San Antonio, Texas.

Cornyation has played an important role in the transformation of Fiesta. When Fiesta began, many of the events were exclusive and run by San Antonio social elites. One of the most prominent events was the Coronation of the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, a lavish debutante pageant that crowned a queen of the festival. Cornyation was created in 1951 by members of the San Antonio Little Theater as a stage show and satire of the Coronation of the Queen, mocking the elite by creating their own flamboyant duchesses, empresses, and queens, often represented as men in drag and local political figures in off-color situations and outrageous costumes.

The show quickly evolved into a controversial parody of local and national politics and culture, and by the end of the decade the Cornyation culture had helped to shift Fiesta into a more inclusive citywide event. While this was not the show's intention, Cornyation allowed women and men from across the city to participate in Fiesta and created a space for satirical humor directed at a more mainstream audience. Although kicked out of Fiesta in the mid-1960s for vulgarity, in the 1980s the event was revived in a gay bar in downtown San Antonio and went on to become one of the most popular events of the festival, with six stage shows selling out annually to more than ten thousand people.

Cornyation is the first history of this major Fiesta San Antonio event, tracing how it has become one of Texas’s iconic and longest-running LGBT events, and one of the Southwest's first large-scale fundraisers for HIV-AIDS research, raising more than $2.5 million since 1990.

More than one hundred vintage and contemporary photographs and hundreds of oral histories and stories document the show's history, highlighting the fact that it has always been a “party with a purpose” that attracts a broad audience, satirizes elites and politics, and creates a place for the public display of campy gay humor. Cornyation tells the story of this important LGBTQ event in the context of San Antonio, the Fiesta festival, and the growth of the gay and lesbian community in the Southwest.
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