EWS 40702/CRN 26739 Sexual Orientation and Diversity Spring 1997

Dr. Dorothy D. Wills Cal Poly Pomona




Class Meetings: Tuesday/Thursday 10:00 - 11:50 a.m., 66:247

Office: Department of Geography and Anthropology, 5:147 or

International Center, 1:104

Hours: Tuesday 1:00 - 2:00, Wednesday 11:00 - 12:00, Thursday 12:00 - 1:00

or by appointment

Phone: 869-3582 or 3336

Email: ddwills@csupomona.edu


Required Texts: (available at the Bronco Bookstore and elsewhere)


Stone Butch Blues, Leslie Feinberg. Ithaca: Fire Brand Books, 1993.

Virtually Normal, Andrew Sullivan. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.

Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, ed. Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr. New York: Meridian, 1990.


Additional readings may be assigned from works placed on reserve in the library, from Internet sources, or from handouts provided in class.


Catalog Description: This course examines the contemporary lesbian, gay, (transgender) and bisexual movement in the United States (and around the world). Topics include the social and biological basis of sexual orientation; the cultural sources of homophobia and heterosexism; the phenomena of coming out and passing; and family, spiritual, and employment issues affecting gays, lesbians, (transgendered persons) and bisexuals.


Expected Outcomes:

1. Students will have a deeper understanding of lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual politics, history, and culture.

2. Students will be familiar with new scholarship in the area of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and "queer" studies.

3. Students will improve their understanding of different theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of human sexuality, political and social communities, and human difference.

4. Students will sharpen their critical thinking and writing skills.




Most of this course is an attempt to answer questions, if not definitively, at least satisfactorily for the time being. Some of the questions are basic, some may become esoteric. You yourselves already have many, and you will have the opportunity to ask



these and other questions. Some of the usual ones asked by people not educated in these matters are scattered through the following Outline in the form of a kind of Twenty Questions. The first one you might run into is as follows.


Q #1 "Honey, what are you taking this quarter?"

"EWS 407."

"Whatís that?"

"Queer studies, Mom."

"WHAT? Youíre taking what? What are they teaching you at that school?"


April 1 Sexuality and identity. The issues of terminology and language. Information about the course. We start to play Twenty Questions.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Introduction, Ch. 1.

Hidden: Introduction.


Q #2 "Well, what exactly do they/you do?"


April 3 Sexual orientation and diversity as research subjects. Queer studies and curriculum. Queerness as a life experience.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Chs. 2, 3.

Hidden: Boswell.


Q #3 "You can always tell when someoneís gay, canít you?"


April 8 Determinism and development issues. A little bit of biology (weíll come back). Cross-cultural, constructionist approaches to the variation in sexuality and gender.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Ch. 4.

Normal: Preface, Prologue.


Q #4 "Isnít that a white thing?"


April 10 Historical approaches to sexual variability. The difficulty in doing historical research on these matters.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Chs. 5, 6.

Hidden: Padgug.


Q #5 "Doesnít the Bible say itís a sin?"





April 15 Overview of the dynamics of the gay/lesbian community in contemporary North America. Spiritual dimensions and religious politics.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Ch. 7.

Hidden: Brown.


Q #6 "When is it okay to say ëqueerí? They/you do it."


April 17 ëComing outí, ëthe closetí, ëpassingí and other modern phenomena of gayness for Americans. Relations with heterosexuals.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Chs. 8, 9.

Normal: Ch. 1.


Q #7 "They/youíre (itís) just sick, arenít they/you (isnít it)? Isnít it against nature?"


April 22 Social institutions and the queer community: work, health/medical care, family and kinship, neighborhood, the law, schools, etc. Gays in the military.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Ch. 10.

Hidden: Allen.


Q #8 "Do lesbians hate men? Do gay men hate women?"


April 24 Continued ethnography of the queer community, including transgendered persons, cross-dressers, bisexuals, intersexuals, pedophiles, s/m practitioners, and other sexual minorities.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Chs. 11, 12.

Normal: Ch. 2.


Q #9 "Why do they/you want to get married ... have children? How do you/they have children?"


April 29 Psychological approaches. Is there a developmental cycle for gay people and bisexuals? Psycho-emotional problems of gay persons.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Ch. 13.

Hidden: Schalow.


Q #10 "Isnít it a bad idea for you/them to be teaching young children?"





May 1 Homophobia, heterosexism, heterosexual panic. Hate crimes. A look at various nation-states in terms of their repressiveness of homosexuality.

Reading assignment:

Hidden: Trumbach.

Normal: Ch. 3.


Q #11 "If Iím gay, does it mean my children will be gay?"


May 6 Mid-term Exam


Reading assignment:

Butch: Ch. 14.

Hidden: San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project.


Q #12 "Arenít they/you a threat to national security?"


May 8 Love and relationships among lesbians and gay men. Gay sexual expression and practices. Myths of promiscuity, bi confusion, recruitment, and so on. Roles and role-playing in gay culture. The butch/femme phenomenon.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Chs. 15, 16.

Normal: Ch. 4.


Q #13 "Why do people care what other people do in bed?"


May 13 Case studies of groups within various societies: Latin American homosexual culture and Chicanos in the U.S.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Ch. 17.

Hidden: Weeks.


Q #14 "What is the gay agenda?"


May 15 A third gender? The Hijras of India, xhanith of Oman (Asia and the Middle East).

Reading assignment:

Butch: Chs. 18, 19.

Normal: Ch. 5.


Q #15 "Wonít I get AIDS if I have contact with a gay person?"


May 20 Native North America: the berdache and the amazon. Effects of colonial European culture and genocide, territorial expansion of the U.S., and reservation life.



Reading assignment:

Butch: Ch. 20.

Hidden: Vicinus.


Q #16 "Why do they/you have to flaunt it?"


May 22 Case studies from sub-Saharan Africa: the Lesotho mommy/baby relationship, Wolof transvestites, and South African minersí sexual culture. The problem of Zimbabwe and post-independence attitudes in some countries.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Chs. 21, 22.

Normal: Epilogue.


Q #17 "Is there such a thing as gay music, art, sensibility?"


May 27 The plagues of our time: HIV among others. Prevention and treatment of AIDS. Characteristics of the HIV+ population. Community responses.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Ch. 23.

Hidden: Newton.


Q #18 "Whatís lesbian chic?"


May 29 The gay, bi, and transgender movement(s). Political tools of the right. Some queer organizations, such as Queer Nation, GLAAD, ACTUP, and others. Human rights or special rights? Gay community centers and other grassroots organizing methods.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Chs. 24, 25.

Hidden: Garber.


Q #19 "How do they/you decide whoís going to be the husband and whoís going to be the wife?"


June 3 Gay culture and society compared to mainstream. Are gays like an ethnic group, or any other minority? Queer transitions and boundary conditions.

Reading assignment:

Butch: Ch. 26.

Normal: Afterword.

Hidden: Haeberle.


Q #20 "Donít gay men really want to be women, and lesbians want to be men?"




June 5 Themes in gay and lesbian literature. When does it become mainstream? Gay representation in the media.

Reading assignment:

Hidden: Berube and DíEmilio.


June 12, 9:10 - 11:10 Final Exam




Students are expected to attend class regularly and to be prepared to discuss the assigned readings and class topics. Students are responsible for all material covered, including any guest lectures, films, or additional reading. If you need to miss class, kindly inform the instructor ahead of time if possible and arrange with another student to borrow notes.


The format of the class is seminar/discussion, with some lecture. The sequence and content of topics and reading assignments may be modified during the quarter, always with student fore-knowledge and assent. Films, outings, and/or guest lectures will be added to the agenda in advance when it becomes necessary. I will try to give you as much lead time as possible before making any changes or additions.


1. Journal. You will be asked to keep a focused journal throughout the quarter. You will turn it in at the mid-term and final exam dates, so keep it separate from your other notes. You will not be graded on this effort, but if you do not do it, or do it in a slipshod manner, you may lose points from your final grade. You will be asked to draw upon entries from your journal or from the experience of keeping it on exams or for discussion purposes. In class, we will talk about appropriate subject matter for your journal.


2. Leading a discussion. As soon as possible, go over the list of assigned readings from Hidden from History and Virtually Normal and pick one article or chapter you find interesting. You will then prepare to lead a discussion of that material in class on the day the reading was supposed to be completed (the meeting after the assignment appears). You are also at liberty to offer to lead a discussion of a topic that is listed as lecture to be given on a particular meeting day, e.g., the biology of sex, or gays on TV, etc. You may have to do outside preparation in order to carry this out, but that would be fine with me.


3. Exams. Your two exams will be of essay type and held in class. The mid-term covers the reading and lectures assigned up to that date, the final covers everything from the mid-term on.


4. Survey. You will also be asked to do some fieldwork during the quarter. This will probably be of survey and interview type. This may be conducted individually or in small groups. We will design the exercise in class.