CH12 Queer Law and Order_Stewart-Winter_2015.pdf - Queer...

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61 The Journal of American History June 2015 doi: 10.1093/jahist/jav283 © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Organization of American Historians. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected] Queer Law and Order: Sex, Criminality, and Policing in the Late Twentieth-Century United States Timothy Stewart-Winter In November 1970, after a lengthy foot chase, two Chicago police officers apprehended James Clay Jr., a twenty-four-year-old African American man, and fired eight shots into his back, killing him. Clay, who was wearing women’s clothing when police encoun- tered him, had a long arrest record that included charges for impersonating the opposite sex and solicitation to commit prostitution. The killing was covered by the local Chi- cago newspapers, including the Sun-Times, the countercultural biweekly Seed, and on the front page of the black-owned Defender . The Chicago Gay Alliance, founded a few months earlier, demanded that the Federal Bureau of Investigation look into whether Clay’s rights had been violated. The officers have never been brought to trial. At the time of Clay’s shooting, Chicagoans had been mobilizing for nearly a year, since the police killing of the Illinois Black Panther party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, to pro- test surveillance and infiltration of the black power movement. On the first anniversary of Clay’s death, Ortez Alderson, a twenty-year-old black man raised on the city’s South Side and the co-founder of the Black Caucus of Chicago Gay Liberation, organized a memorial march on the city’s Eighteenth District police station in his memory. Clay’s death led to the formation in 1971 of the Transvestites Legal Committee, Chicago’s first transgender political organization. 1 The protests against Clay’s death offer a window onto the neglected intersection of the histories of sexuality and the carceral state by highlighting a missing link in the trajectory of gay politics: black-gay coalitions against police harassment. The rise of the gay rights movement and the emergence of the carceral state coexist uneasily in the historiography of the late twentieth-century United States. In the 1970s, as the nation embarked upon its unprecedented experiment in tightened drug enforcement and racialized mass incar- ceration, half the states repealed their sodomy laws, yet historians have only just begun to Timothy Stewart-Winter is an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University–Newark. The author wishes to thank Heather Ann Thompson, Margot Canaday, George Chauncey, Donna Murch, Whitney Strub, Alison Lefko- vitz, Kwame Holmes, Kevin Mumford, Julio Capó Jr., and the JAH editors and anonymous reviewers for their feedback. Readers may contact Stewart-Winter at [email protected]

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