Beyond merely cataloguing homosexuality’s flirtations with fascist politics and iconography, Judith Halberstam’s lecture sought to question the very core of historical research in queer studies by asking “how do we do or not do gay history?” For Halberstam, the key question is: what parts of queer history we ignore or leave uninvestigated because of political inconvenience, or because we wish to repress certain objectionable past practices from consciousness.
Calling upon George Chauncey’s notion of queer history as a “repressed archive”, Halberstam argued that while queer scholarship has often uncovered narratives that had remained buried in the back of the closet, it has also tended only to pull from that closet the voices and histories that support an unquestioned progress narrative of queer culture. The skeletons that do not please the historian remain closeted.
Halberstam appealed against this logic of selective history, arguing that this vision of queer history has painted a distorted picture of the 20th century in which gays and lesbians are portrayed as perpetual victims of a universal, culturally unspecific homophobia. Instead, Halberstam proposed that we pay more attention to the history of gay collaboration with the production of fascist ideology and imagery while stating that the goal should not be to settle the issue on one correct history, but to explore “the ethics of complicity” with fascism alongside other narratives.
(Full article available at Kritik)