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My Desire for HistoryEssays in Gay, Community, and Labor History$
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Allan Berube, John D'Emilio, and Estelle B. Freedman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834794

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877982_berube

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“Queer Work” and Labor History

“Queer Work” and Labor History

(p.259) Chapter 14 “Queer Work” and Labor History
My Desire for History

Allan Bérubé

University of North Carolina Press

This essay presents how Berube confronted the absence of analyses of what he came to call “queer work.” “How do jobs become queer?” Berube wondered. How do people find such jobs? Are there political ramifications to the queering of some workplaces? Berube brought such questions, as well as his initial speculation about them, to a labor studies conference in San Francisco as a way to provoke further thought and investigation. All this while he immersed himself in labor history in order to provide deep context for his study of the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union. Berube here also talks about how some gay stewards called themselves “queens.” Queens are open, daring, and know how to take care of themselves. “When you liked them,” explains Pete Brownlee, a straight waiter who worked on the Matson liners, “you always called them a queen.”

Keywords:   Berube, queer work, labor studies, labor history, gay stewards, queens

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