Blue at Gimp Parade has a really good post up this morning about the complicated murder trial of Daphne Wright, a "deaf, black lesbian" whose access to a fair trial in South Dakota has been questioned. For a broader historical discussion of the idea that a "whirlwind of lesbian drama" can drive someone to murder, check out Christine Coffman's new book, Insane Passions: Lesbianism and Psychosis in Literature and Film (Wesleyan University Press 2006--the book's cover is shown at right, a black-and-white image of two young white women embracing). Coffman traces the cultural roots and expressions of the stereotype of the "insane lesbian" across the 20th century, from a murder trial in 1930s France, through film and literature.
And while I'm on the subject of intersections between criminology, GLBTQ history and disability history in the 20th century, I read an old friend's new book recently, Jackie Blount's Fit to Teach: Same-Sex Desire, Gender, and School Work in the Twentieth Century (SUNY Press 2005), in which she follows the struggle of gay and lesbian teachers against widespread employment discrimination in the US. One story (p. 113) is from the world of Deaf education in 1970:
Only a year after the Stonewall riot, a counselor at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford lost his job immediately after he discussed gay rights on television. The young man, who had served as an officer of the Kalos Society: Gay Liberation, Hartford, had agreed to participate in a televised panel discussion on gay liberation and society. He would attempt to fight his dismissal. However, around this time, the Journal of the American Bar Association released poll results indicated that respondents 'considered homosexuality a crime second only to murder or to murder or to murder and armed robberty.' Despide this considerable public hostility, other educators besides the West Hartford counselor would begin standing up as well, even if termination were inevitable.