For the first time at the University, students will be able to take a course exploring the history of gays and lesbians, a USF Library news release reported.
David Johnson, an openly gay assistant professor at USF, will teach the course in the spring. There will be undergraduate and graduate versions of the course, he said, and each will focus on gay culture throughout history, including a closer look at Batman and Robin’s relationship.
Johnson discussed the evolution of gay and lesbian film at the “Queer Film: From Margin to Mainstream” speech Tuesday. He explained the growth of gay and lesbian themes in film over the years, from pornography to the projects of homophobic filmmakers. He also promoted the gay and lesbian film festival taking place in Tampa until Oct 12.
“The Clip Film Festival is important because it raises awareness about issues such as gay rights and the AIDS crisis,” Johnson said. “Most of all, going to a big room full of queer or queer-friendly people is a powerful experience.”
Johnson also contributed to an educational archive in the USF Library Special Collections Department that features records of the history of gender and sexuality in Florida.
“We feel that we are meeting the needs of USF and the local community by collecting these materials,” said Mark Greenberg, a faculty administrator at the Library. “We couldn’t build an archive if there wasn’t an interest in the community.”
The archive might create more opportunities for teaching gay and lesbian culture, Greenberg said.
“Universities always pave the way for counties to include these kinds of archives in their libraries,” said Stephen Mintz, program director for the Clip Film Festival.
Johnson is also writing a book, Buying Gay, which describes the history of gay mass-consumption before the Stonewall riots of 1969 and the impact it had on the formation of gay community and identity. The Stonewall riots were several nights of protest sparked by a police raid of a popular Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, on the evening of June 27, 1969. This incident marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement, according to a Columbia University Libraries exhibition.
Though the course is a semester away, it is already generating interest among some students.
“I’m looking forward to the class,” said Taylor Mitchell, an English graduate student. “I’ve also been working to help organize an event called ‘Anything But Safe’, which will feature Dr. Johnson as he speaks about sexuality and gender. He’s very informative.”
However, another graduate student, Kendra Bryant, was disappointed when Johnson said his course wouldn’t have much information about gays in the black community.
“I must also confess that the book I’m writing features white males because it is about money,” Johnson said.