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January 17, 2017
Tim Stewart-Winter, associate professor of U.S. history and co-director of the Queer Newark Oral History Project, is the co-winner of the 2017 John Boswell Prize for his book, Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics. The John Boswell Prize is awarded every other year by the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender History for “an outstanding book on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and/or queer history published in English" in the past two years.
On why Queer Clout earned this recognition, the Awards Committee writes, “Especially admirable is Stewart-Winter's attention to how queer activism in Chicago was always coalitional, involving work across races, genders, and sexual identities. Stewart-Winter deftly examines how the defining moments of queer political ascendancy in Chicago—protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the 1983 electoral victory of Harold Washington as Chicago's first African-American mayor—were collaborative operations built on shared commitments to end police brutality and to overcome political exclusion. Such focus allows Stewart-Winter to rework the somewhat familiar narrative of queer urban history, opening up fresh opportunities for future scholars to examine how the rise of queer political power was a collaborative venture."
Queer Clout, which is Stewart-Winter’s first book, traces the role of big-city municipal politics in the gay movement’s path from the closets to the corridors of power. Queer Clout shifts the scene from the coastal gay meccas to the nation's great inland metropolis, highlighting the key role of policing in LGBT mobilization and the gay movement's debt to African-American urban politics. “I wrote this book to challenge the myth that LGBT people won power through dramatic, iconic events, like the Stonewall rebellion or the recent Supreme Court victories. What I found, instead, was that for most of its history the LGBT movement was an urban movement engaged primarily in local organizing at city hall. While the federal government legitimized the civil rights revolution in the 1960s, it was big-city municipal government that expanded its scope in the following three decades to encompass gay and lesbian people,” said Stewart-Winter.
Stewart-Winter said he hoped readers of Queer Clout come away with “a deeper understanding of the fact that American cities have been absolutely vital to the expansion and reinvigoration of American democracy.”
Stewart Winter shares the 2017 prize with co-winner Clare Sears, author of Arresting Dress: Cross-Dressing, Law, and Fascination in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco. Read the full announcement here.