Queer Pasts | Alexander Street

Queer Pasts

Queer Pasts is a collection of primary source exhibits for students and scholars of queer history and culture, curated by academic editors Marc Stein and Lisa Arellano. The database uses “queer” in its broadest and most inclusive sense, embracing LGBT topics as well as other sexual and gender formations that are queer. Particular focus is given to perspectives from people of color, trans people and people with disabilities.

Modeled on Women and Social Movements, this new database will be of interest to researchers in queer studies, college and university teachers and undergraduate and graduate students. All content will undergo a double-blind peer review process.

Queer Pasts is a collection of primary source exhibits for students and scholars of queer history and culture. The database uses “queer” in its broadest and most inclusive sense, to embrace topics that are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender and to include work on sexual and gender formations that are queer but not necessarily LGBT. Each of the document collections in the database will include a critical introductory essay that helps explain the significance of the primary sources in historical terms and in relationship to previous scholarship. We ask our project editors to address the strengths, limitations, and characteristics of their archive and to explore the ways in which archives are constructed, constrained, and contested.

This database seeks to broaden the field of queer history, including projects that focus on the experiences and perspectives of under-represented historical groups, including people of color, trans people, and people with disabilities.


Introducing Marc Stein and Lisa Arellano

Marc Stein is the Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Professor of History at San Francisco State University.  He is a historian of U.S. law, politics, and society, with research and teaching interests in constitutional law, social movements, gender, race and sexuality.
Lisa Arellano is a visiting Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Mills College. Her teaching focuses on comparative social movements, critical historiography and violence studies.

Watch a recording of Marc Stein & Lisa Arellano talk about Queer Pasts! 


Launched exhibits include:

Reclamation Projects: An Archive of Queer Latinidad

Pablo Mitchell, History and Comparative American Studies, Oberlin College

The City Nightclub: A Community of Queer Youth in Portland, Oregon 1977-1997

Lisa Arellano, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Mills College

Power, Politics, and Race in the 1968 Philadelphia Study of Prison Sexual Violence

Marc Stein, Professor of History, San Francisco State University

Aids Knows No Borders: Protesting the Ban on HIV-Positive Migrants, 1900-1993

Karma Chavez Chair in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin

Are There Really Only Two Asian Lesbians in Chicago? Queer Asian Visibility and Community Formation in Chicago 1980s-1990s 

Laura Fugikawa, American Studies and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Colby College 


Projects in Development

  • “Men’s Clothing for the Well-Dressed College Woman”: Queer Life at Mills, 1900–1980
  • Sodomites, She-Males, and Masqueraders in 1840s New York
  • Sexual Transgressions, Misogynistic Reactions, and Public Denunciation in the Partido Liberal Mexicano 1900–1923
  • Queer Youth Histories before Stonewall


Early Reviews

“I do want to underscore the importance of this work. Many of these organizations (and our history) would've been lost to oblivion without works like this. My heart leaps at using archives to do exactly this kind of restoration to our history.”

“The essay on queer Asian visibility and community formation in Chicago is a robust and expansive inquiry into questions of identity, mutual aid organization and belonging, and the variety of strategies that diverse pan-Asian ethnic lesbian and gay men did to create and communicate a demand for visibility and community. I particularly appreciate how the documents chosen and the context shifts scale in terms of community organizing and communication of visibility and voice on “on the local, national and international scale””

“There is only just now beginning to be much work on queer youth considered historically and this will be a great addition to that literature.”

Source: Double-blind peer review