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5 LGBT/Queer studies courses that will help you understand why Pride Month exists

This Pride Month, learn where LGBTQ resistance started and where it's going with these courses.
BY Anandamayee Singh |   10-06-2019

BrainGain Magazine

In 1970, University of California, Berkeley taught the first ever undergraduate LGBTQ studies course. However, the knowledge that shaped the class syllabus had been in existence for years outside the classroom. Whether it is Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Grey, the lives of two-spirit indigenous North Americans, or the Black and Latinx drag queens of Paris is Burning, queer theory has always been as much about retracing as it is about creating. And it is always fed by the real lives of queer people, creating and being.

That being said, the inciting words, read: recognized by academic institutions,  are probably Eve Koofsy Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet, and Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble. Both these texts challenge heterosexual norms, and lay the foundation for queer theory to consistently push the edge of ‘civility’ and its structure. In honour of Pride Month, here are 5 interesting LGBT/queer studies courses for you to check out:

How do you say queer in Spanish? Gender, Sexuality, Identity and Citizenship- Hofstra University

The answer to this question is that you can’t, because there is no translation of the word that isn’t offensive, or adequately captures the process of reclaiming this identity. But that isn’t a reason to dismiss this course altogether. The course traces queerness in the Latinx world through literature, film, performance and theory, which is significant given the history of ignoring queer people of colour in this discipline. Queer theory has been dominated by white academics, overlooking and often appropriating the work and words of theorists of colour. It’s like John Watson taking the credit for all of Sherlock’s cases, because he helped solve some of the clues. That is why this exploration of queerness, rooted in Latin America, Latin U.S. and Spain is necessary, and makes this course a must in the larger world of LGBT/queer studies.

Gender is Burning: Contemporary Trans Topics - Wesleyan University

Not only is the title for this course a great callback to the Sundance award winning documentary Paris is Burning, but it is an important course to expand the conversation in LGBT studies, particularly as it focuses exclusively on trans theory, instead of treating it as an addendum. The class looks at how trans experiences have been shaped by psychology, medicine, transfeminism, economy and colonization, and how it applies to trans identities today.

The Color of AIDS: The Politics of Race During the AIDS Crisis- Rutgers University

The AIDS crisis in the U.S. was a deeply misunderstood epidemic, villainized by the government as a ‘deviant’ disease with very little funding. Quite a few academics focusing on queer theory work on retracing the AIDS epidemic, and how activists forced the government and the world at large to pay attention to those affected. However, the conversation usually revolves around white activists, overlooking the work of artists, researchers, activists and campaigners of colour. This course is for those who want to understand why and how combating AIDS in the U.S. took so long, and who was overlooked in the fight for ‘respectable’ queer identities.

Transgender Poetry Course - Hunter College

This poetry course, taught by trans poet and professor Trace Peterson was so revolutionary, that it made the news. It is the first poetry course ever to feature transgender poets, and was created to increase the visibility of trans people and their literary work. The poetry read in that class asks powerful questions about the violence of binary gender, the pains and process of transitioning and everything in between.  

Selling Out: Money, Marketing, and LGBT Identity and Politics- UCLA

What started as a rainbow coloured filter for your profile picture on Facebook has expanded into a much larger marketing gimmick for most major brands. This year, Budweiser, Lyft and Amazon have been vocal about recognizing Pride Month with a celebration of the rainbow. But how much of it is a performance, an attempt to jump on the ‘woke’ bandwagon for some good grace? This class will help you answer how marketing has helped create an ‘acceptable’ version of LGBT identity. Definitely something that will make you pause and examine the next rainbow flag you see online or outside a corporate building.

Think we missed out on a great course for this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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