Pink Precariat: LGBT Workers in the Shadow of Civil Rights, 1945-2000


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress during academic year 2018-2019


While historians of sexuality have written extensively about working class cultures, an assumption that workplaces were “straight spaces” in which LGBT people passed has limited inquiry into the workplace itself. Yet the workplace (and fear of job loss) shaped gay life as much as the bar or the street. Moreover, because of a modern equivalence between work and personal identity—the job makes the person, said Marx—occupations have been central to establishing sexual identity. Workplaces, finally, are considered both arenas where norms are enforced and compulsion reigns, as well as a site of tolerance where diversity is nurtured. Pink Precariat draws on court cases, business and labor records, and over 100 oral histories conducted with LGBTs born in the 1930s to explore these themes as the corporation emerged, women entered the labor force en masse, and the economy shifted from Fordist to post-Fordist modes of production.