Date of Degree

9-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Sarah Chinn

Subject Categories

American Studies | Cultural History | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies

Abstract

In November 1991, a group of queer teenagers gathered to rally at the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Two years later, the state passed the first law in the nation adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in the state's schools. The November rally was the first public expression of what became the safe schools movement, which went on over the following decade to transform the landscape in public education for LGBTQ students. A notable feature of the rally was the staging by the youth of a mass performative act of queer suicide. This paper uses Foucauldian concepts of discourse to place the events of that day, along with the movement it kindled, within the context of broader narratives of safety in LGBTQ community organizing and identity. I argue the success of the strategy taken by the queer youth movement of the early- to mid-1990s is ultimately a result of the reversal of the discourses of pathology historically attending homosexuality.

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