Episode 14: The Labor Struggle is Real Queer

Leigh and Gretchen have a special History is Gay treat for you this Labor Day. Join them as they discuss the history of the labor movement as it relates to the struggle for queer civil rights in America. You may not know, but the labor and LGBTQ+ movements have been allies for a long time. Just how far back does the partnership go? Listen and find out! Learn about Jewish lesbian feminists fighting for better workplace conditions during WWI, the mostly-queer marine cooks union in the 30s and 40s, lesbian bus drivers’ unions, the Coors boycott, and more. We end with a discussion of what needs to be done and Gretchen may or may not end up on a soapbox. Happy Labor Gay!

A Closer Look at People in the Labor and LGBTQ+ Movements

 Pauline Newman (1887-1986)

Pauline Newman (1887-1986)

 Rose Schneiderman (1882-1972)

Rose Schneiderman (1882-1972)

 Dr. Marie Equi (1872-1952)

Dr. Marie Equi (1872-1952)

 A gathering of the Nation Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards (NUMCS)

A gathering of the Nation Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards (NUMCS)

 Cooks and Stewards on the HF Alexander

Cooks and Stewards on the HF Alexander

 Newspaper of the NUMCS

Newspaper of the NUMCS

 Stephen Blair, Vice President of the NUMCS

Stephen Blair, Vice President of the NUMCS

 Revels Clayton of the NUMCS

Revels Clayton of the NUMCS

 Judy Mage, who led the NYC Department of Welfare strike in 1965

Judy Mage, who led the NYC Department of Welfare strike in 1965

 Howard Wallace, who helped lead the Coors boycott in 1974

Howard Wallace, who helped lead the Coors boycott in 1974

 One of the most famous protest signs of the Coors boycott in the 1970s

One of the most famous protest signs of the Coors boycott in the 1970s

 Joni Christian, labor activist and transgender icon (Image courtesy of the  NY Times )

Joni Christian, labor activist and transgender icon (Image courtesy of the NY Times)

If you want to learn more about the alliance between the Labor and LGBTQ+ movements, check out our full list of sources and further reading below!

    Online Articles

    Books

    • Out in the Union by Miriam Frank
    • My Desire for History: Essays in Gay, Community, and Labor History by Allan Bérubé, edited by Estelle B. Freedman
    • Plane Queer: Labor, Sexuality, and AIDS in the History of Male Flight Attendants by Phil Tiemeyer
    • Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Steelworkers by Anne Balay
    • Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation by Sherry Wolf

    Videos

    Until next time, stay queer and stay curious!