The Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History awards five prizes for outstanding work in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and queer history:

The John Boswell Prize for an outstanding book on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and/or queer history published in English. (Odd-numbered years, covering previous two years.) Read the 2015 call for submissions here.

The Joan Nestle Prize for an outstanding paper on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and/or queer history completed in English by an undergraduate student. (Odd-numbered years, covering previous two years.) The undergraduate paper prize is funded through a special fund established by CLGBTH’s lifetime members. Read the 2015 call for submissions here.

The Gregory Sprague Prize for an outstanding published or unpublished paper, article, book chapter, or dissertation chapter on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and/or queer history completed in English by a graduate student. (Even-numbered years, covering previous two years.) The Sprague Prize is funded by the Gerber/Hart Library in Chicago.

The Audre Lorde Prize for an outstanding article on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and/or queer history published in English. (Even-numbered years, covering previous two years.)

The Allan Bérubé Prize for outstanding work in public or community-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer history. (Even-numbered years, covering previous two years.) The Bérubé Prize is underwritten by the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, CA.

Recent Winners

Allan Bérubé Prize 2014:
Online Exhibit on the Upstairs Lounge Fire, New Orleans, 1973. Producer: The LGBT Religious Archives Network; Co-Curators: Mark Bowman and Lynn Jordan; Designer: Carl Foote; Collaborators: Skylar Fein, Johnny Townsend, and Henry Kubicki.

On Pride Sunday, June 24, 1973, an arsonist’s flash fire killed 32 people in a New Orleans gay bar. The Upstairs Lounge Fire online exhibit weaves artifacts from the time into a vivid historical account of the tragedy and memorializes those who perished, including members of Metropolitan Community Church, who had used the space to worship and become bar regulars. Creators use diverse primary visual, documentary and community resources as well as compelling secondary source material. Visitors learn about how gay and religious people made shared use of space in early 1970s New Orleans, the violent loss and struggle to heal while investigating the crime, diverse media coverage of the event, and the mix of activist, political and homophobic acts that ensued. The committee found this exhibit to be “just plain excellent work,” immersive and rich in its blend of narratives, interpretations and evidence. The content and design allow visitors their own pace and depth, making the exhibition accessible for a wide range of viewers, especially students. Writes co-curator Lynn Jordan: “For those who would say that this event was so yesterday, i.e., we have achieved so many advances in our civil rights and in our acceptance for this to happen again, I would remind them that hate and intolerance are not constrained to finding shelter in any one moment, any one location in our ‘queer’ history.”

HONORABLE MENTION: The Legacy Project (Legacy Walk and the Legacy Project Education Initiative), Chicago; Executive Director: Victor Salvo.

The Legacy Project is an outdoor sidewalk exhibit of bronze memorial plaques originally installed along North Halsted Street by the City of Chicago to recognize the gay neighborhood Boystown. The plaques, honoring LGBT people from Chicago as well as figures from world history, are on public view on the street and online. An educational initiative established in cooperation with the Illinois Safe School Alliance is aimed at teaching new generations more about LGBT history. The prize committee appreciated the novel idea of an outdoor, publicly visible and immediately accessible approach, and recognized the potential impact the youth education program. The project’s ability to evolve was also attractive. As one committee member remarked, “I like my queer history ‘in your face,’ and their project does that, they took it to the streets.”

Audre Lorde Prize 2014
James N. Green, “’Who Is the Macho Who Wants to Kill Me?’ Male Homosexuality, Revolutionary Masculinity, and the Brazilian Armed Struggle of the 1960s and 1970s,” Hispanic American Historical Review 92, no 3 (2012): 437- 469

The article examines the meanings of homosexuality within Brazil’s revolutionary left in the 1960s and 1970s. It exposes how homophobia within leftist movements became interwoven with critiques of the counterculture and cultural imperialism, and adds texture and depth to our understanding of the means by which radicals of all genders and sexualities linked masculine authority with self-sacrifice. By situating homophobia of the left within both national and transnational frames, and by paying close attention to the tricks of memory that trouble oral history, Green adds substantial depth to histories of the Latin American “New Man.” The committee was impressed with the depth of research, original perspective of Brazilian communist, radical masculinity, and highly engaging prose. The article will become a major reference point for thinking about global masculinity and also for gay activism.

HONORABLE MENTION: Nicholas L. Syrett, “A Busman’s Holiday in the Not-So-Lonely Crowd: Business Culture, Epistolary Networks, and Itinerant Homosexuality in Mid-Twentieth-Century America,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 21, no 1 (January 2012): 121-140

Deeply researched and nicely written work of original scholarship offers a fresh look at the relationship between capitalism and American gay identity. Syrett revisits John D’ Emilio’s classic “Capitalism and Gay Identity” as a starting point and shows how capitalism facilitated queer sexual relations in middle America during the mid-twentieth century. His story of itinerant queer businessmen pursuing romantic sexual relationships outside of urban and queer centered communities is an important contribution to scholarship on American queer lives as well as business history.

Gregory Sprague Prize 2014
Stephen Vider, “‘A Peculiar Talent’: Measuring Masculinity, Diagnosing Decorating,” the first chapter from his dissertation, No Place Like Home: A Cultural History of Gay Domesticity, 1948-1982 (Harvard University, 2013).

Vider’s dissertation chapter examines the evolution of the stereotype of the gay interior decorator in American popular culture from the nineteenth century to the 1960s. While at their earliest appearance in the late nineteenth century male interior decorators represented a range of masculinities and sexualities, Vider convincingly shows that by the end of World War II all male interior decorators were seen as effeminate and homosexual. Vider’s innovative focus on gay domesticity – with synthesis of scholarships on domesticity, masculinity, and sexuality – provides a novel perspective and a captivating account of the fragility of postwar domestic order. Relying on a wide range of sources from films, musicals, periodicals, and cartoons to medical and social science studies, the chapter demonstrates the solidification of boundaries of heteronormative male domesticity. Vider offers insights not only to LGBTQ history but also the cultural history of the US more broadly. The committee was impressed with his innovative methodology, wide range of sources, and persuasive writing style.

HONORABLE MENTION: T. J. Tallie, “Queering Natal: Settler Logics and the Disruptive Challenge of Zulu Polygamy,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 19, no 2 (2013): 167-189.

The article examines dynamic relationships between European settlers and indigenous cultural and sexual practices in South Africa. Tallie’s analysis of indigenous, colonial, and postcolonial discourses around defining normative sexual practices and identities speaks to the growing scholarship on settler colonialism while bringing sub-Saharan Africa thoroughly into the field of queer history and theory. This sophisticated essay expands the history of sexuality in theoretical and geographic terms.

Allan Bérubé Prize 2012:
CO-WINNERS: Out in Chicago, produced by Chicago History Museum, curated by Jill Thomas Austin and Jennifer Brier, staffed by Jessica Herczeg-Konecny, Emily H. Nordstrom, Daniel Oliver, Anne E. Parsons, Mark Ramirez, and Morgan W. Valenzuela.

The Queer Music Heritage Radio Show and Website, produced and staffed by JD Doyle, Houston, TX.

The Out in Chicago project team’s innovative installation for the Chicago History Museum worked extensively over a three-year period with community members to, as they describe it, “create an exhibition that recasts the city’s LGBT and urban histories thematically.” It was open to the public from May 2011 to March 2012. Out in Chicago is a lively exhibit that centers the experiences of individuals—especially African Americans, Latinos, transgender people, and the leather community—through four sections: family, home, community, and activism. Extensive use of oral history helped the curatorial team to create an impressively inclusive portrayal of the city’s many and varied queer peoples. New uses of archival and other objects, as well as innovative social media sources, also bring the exhibit to new audiences. Out in Chicago not only is one of the first exhibitions of its kind in a mainstream museum, but also showcases the possibilities of collaboration among institutions and community partners.

Queer Music Heritage is a labor of love of JD Doyle, who for over a decade has worked to “preserve and share the music of queer culture.” Doyle produces and hosts an engaging and informative monthly radio show and maintains an innovative user-friendly website that features a full audio archive of the program, transcribed interviews, and a wide range of visual materials. Among the many historical themes explored are the music of the “pansy craze” of the 1920s and 1930s, the Women’s Music Movement, and the music and politics of Queer Nation. Site content, impressive in its volume and scope, is organized to optimize access by researchers and educators. One noteworthy resource is “Queer Music History 101,” an exhaustively researched two-hour audio course covering the history of LGBT music from 1925-1986. Queer Music Heritage exposes diverse audiences to an important theme in LGBT history and encourages new research avenues.

HONORABLE MENTION: Memory Flash, produced by John Q. Collective, staffed by Wesley Chenault, Andy Ditzler, and Joey Orr.

Deriving from Atlanta-based queer archives, Memory Flash was a one-day, temporary art piece and performance that “reactivated” historical sites in Atlanta through oral history, installation, projection, and audience interaction. This “discursive memorial” was also presented though publications, academic conferences, and a museum exhibit, and deserves special recognition for its creative bridging of archive and repertoire and innovative exploration of place, memorial, and queer history.

Audre Lorde Prize 2012
PRIZE WINNER: Kevin J. Mumford, “The Trouble with Gay Rights: Race and the Politics of Sexual Orientation in Philadelphia, 1969–1982,” Journal of American History (June 2011): 49-72.

Using Philadelphia as a case study, this article demonstrates that we cannot understand “the longer history of gay and lesbian rights without reference to African Americans.” The committee was especially impressed with how Mumford wrote a LGBTQ history that not only draws heavily on other literatures to conceptualize the evidence at hand, but also is written in such a way as to make it highly relevant to scholars in those related fields. The essay builds on and reconceptualizes work in LGBTQ history that is recognizing that communities are not discrete, homogenous, or necessarily in competition with each other, even though much of the evidence might suggest that they are. Instead, by centering rhetorical strategies that urged audiences to recognize intersectionality and common interests, Mumford shows how activists were able to move rights agendas forward in the public sphere.

HONORABLE MENTION: Leila J. Rupp, “The Persistence of Transnational Organizing: The Case of the Homophile Movement” American Historical Review (October 2011): 1014-39.

This article examines the history of transnational homophile organizing in the 1950s, in particular the International Committee for Sexual Equality. It demonstrates that the development of identity movements in a coordinated way, over time, allows certain kinds of thinking to move forward despite the limitations of any one national frame. Rupp introduces historians to the notion of “abeyance structures” which is particularly important to LGBTQ rights, since it demonstrates the ways in which homophilia as a project could be pushed forward and developed despite the limitations of any one nation (particularly, in this case, the U.S.). It also hints at numerous ways that homosexual organizing survived WWII.

Gregory Sprague Prize 2012
PRIZE WINNER: Ryan Lee Cartwright, “Sissies, Strumpets, and Queer Old Maids: Eugenic Family Studies and the Perversion of the Rural Idyll,” Queering the Countryside: New Directions in U.S. Rural Queer Studies, ed. Mary Gray and Colin Johnson (under review with NYU Press).

This essay examines rural U.S. gender and sexual nonconformity by making use of eugenic fieldwork from the 1910s and 1920s. It operates at the intersections of queer studies, rural studies, gender studies, and disability studies and tells us a lot about how ideas about white sexual deviance in the hovel families—particularly “promiscuity”—cemented themselves into the minds of Progressive thinkers. This intellectual trajectory would flower in social policies of the mid to late 1930s that favored support for industrial motherhood over rural motherhood. The committee was especially impressed with Cartwright’s ability to read archival sources against the grain, a crucial technique for doing queer and other subaltern histories. It is also successful at unseating the pastoral, seeing intersectionality, and asking important questions: What is the language used when categories are not stable, what must be borrowed, and what are the consequences?

HONORABLE MENTION: Howard Chiang, “The Science and Transformations of Sex in Republican China,” Ph.D. dissertation chapter (Princeton University).

This examination of the history of “sex change” in mass circulation publications in China from the 1920s to the 1940s addresses the question of how a body might be in transformation from one set of sexed/gendered characteristics to another, and the model is only partly scientific. Many transgender histories are either U.S. or European based, focused on a set of either legal or scientific epistemologies, and organized around the consolidation of identities. Chiang suggests another, perhaps more common, route: Societies with ideas about gender variance already in place had their own notions about how these might correspond, intersect with, or diverge from models emerging in endocrinology, psychology and sexology. The committee was especially appreciative of Chiang’s article in that it fills an important void in the field. He crystallizes how science understood and dealt with sex variance prior to the “discovery” of a transsexual category. It tackles larger issues of science and modernity, including the role of the media (and journalists) in advancing gender norms and also international prestige.

John Boswell Prize (2011-2012):
Allan Bérubé, John D’Emilio, and Estelle Freedman, My Desire for History: Essays in Gay, Community, & Labor History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011).

My Desire for History elegantly surveys the pioneering work of the late
Allan Bérubé and makes clear his genius as a public historian. The essays themselves—part history, part memoir—are wide-ranging, accessible, and powerful, and include several selections from Bérubé’s unpublished manuscript on the history of the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union. Taken together, the pieces offer not only a retrospective of where the field has been, but an agenda for the future in terms of bringing race and class more centrally into LGBT history. D’Emilio and Freedman’s skillful introduction situates Bérubé’s journey within a broader story about the origins of LGBT history in community history projects. It is a moving reminder of the generosity and interdependence that have sustained this field from its earliest days.

Joan Nestle Prize (2011-2012):
Mark Mulligan, “Female Warriors and Victims of Circumstance: Male Impersonators in Early American Print Culture,” (Assumption College).

Mark Mulligan’s carefully crafted essay explores the evolution of narratives about male impersonators from the Revolution to the end of the Civil War. Based on a close reading of print sources from the American Antiquarian Society, Mulligan demonstrates that the Revolutionary-era discourse of the “female warrior” had origins in older European traditions. The discourse morphed during the years of the Early Republic to emphasize the male impersonator as a victim of circumstance. Yet the trope of the female warrior re-emerged by the time of the Civil War—“both a familiar and recognizable character and also a character …constantly reinvented.”

Mulligan is sophisticated in his use of historiography and attentive to the sorts of questions that the print sources he has unearthed can and cannot answer. His essay shifts focus from the impersonator as exceptional to the impersonator as representative; Mulligan is less interested in the individual experience of any given impersonator than in the male impersonator as a “persona in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century consciousness.”

A scholarly committee determined winners after an open nomination process. The CLGBTH received 16 submissions for the Boswell and 7 for the Nestle. Committee members for both prizes included Margot Canaday, Cookie Woolner, and Ben Cowan. The committee would like to thank the entrants for their submissions, which are worthy of praise and make important contributions to LGBTQ History.

Prize committees

2014: Lorde/Sprague Committee: Kevin Mumford*, Emily K. Hobson, Anita Kurimay; Bérubé Committee: Jill Austin*, JD Doyle, Maria-Anna Tesliou
2013: Margot Canaday*, Cookie Woolner, Ben Cowan
2012: Sprague and Lorde: Thomas A. Foster*, Julio Cesar Capo, Claire Potter; Bérubé Committee: Kevin P. Murphy*, Marcia Gallo, Lauren Jae Gutterman, Joey Plaster
2011: Ellen Herman*, Chris Waters, Stephanie Gilmore
2010: Marc Stein*, Nicholas Syrett, Ellen Zitani
2009: John D’Emilio*, Amy Sueyoshi, Red Vaughan Tremmel
2008: Moshe Sluhovsky*, Christolyn Williams, Phil Tiemeyer
2007: Ramon Gutierrez*, Jennifer Evans, Daniel Rivers
2006: Vicki Eaklor*, Nan Alamilla Boyd, Don Romesburg
2005: John Howard*, Margaret McFadden, Pablo Ben
2004: Margaret Hunt*, Anne Rubenstein, Tim Retzloff
2003: John D’Emilio*, Lori Ginzberg, Robert Frame
2002: Chuck Middleton*, Margot Canaday, David Serlin
2001: Michael Sibalis*, Leisa Meyer, Christopher Capozzola
2000: Ellen Herman*, James Green, Victoria Thompson
1999: Allida Black, Bill Drummond, Terence Kissack
1998: John Fout, John Howard, Nancy Unger
1997: Linda Heidenreich, Leila Rupp, Michael Sherry
1996: Barry Adam, Leisa Meyer, Randolph Trumbach
1995: Vicki Eaklor, James Steakley, Marc Stein
1994: Steven Maynard, Eugene Rice, Leila Rupp

* chair