‘The Ones Who Had Nothing to Lose’: Days and Nights in the Queer Work World
Fall 2017 Legal History Workshop
- Margot Canaday
Associate Professor of HistoryPrinceton University
This is the second chapter of my manuscript, Pink Precariat: LGBT Workers in the Shadow of Civil Rights, 1945-2000. These two chapters (Part I of the book) set the landscape by describing the world of work for LGBT people in the 1950s and 1960s. The first chapter describes conditions for those in mainstream occupations in the “straight world of work.” This chapter, by contrast, offers a spatial survey of the “queer work world.” These were the jobs in service work and in a variety of queer occupations (which cut across class) that tended to affirm rather than negate gay identity. That was usually the primary compensation offered for these jobs that were otherwise stigmatized, low-paying, and with very little opportunity to advance. Some denizens of the queer work world chose this type of employment, and some were forced to accept it after being kicked out of the straight world of work because of an arrest or being purged from a government position. The tour here includes service work, factory jobs, the gay leisure world (bars), sex work, and the “queer” professions.
Note: This is a discussion based workshop of work-in-progress with the expectation that those attending have read the workshop materials. Please contact Jacquelyn E. Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the materials.