Congratulations to Michael Lecker who received a research grant from the Interdisciplinary Curriculum Collaborative’s Scholarship Fund. Check out his answers to a few questions below to learn more about his project and how he plans to use the grant.
What is the topic of your current research?
My current project is my ethnographic dissertation: Oh You Pretty Things: Radical Faeries and LGBT Worldmaking. Through oral history, participant observation, and archival research, this project pieces together and analyzes the complex culture of three Radical Faerie urban communities (Portland, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis) and their corresponding rural gathering locations. My primary research agenda is two-fold. First, I want to understand how and why an LGBT group from the 1970s is not only still in existence, but thriving, within contemporary culture. Second, I want to analyze the cultural forms Radical Faeries create and what relation (supplementary, reactionary, negating, replacing) these forms may have to the larger (hetero-centric) US culture.
What is your approach to research and your methods of inquiry?
I take an interdisciplinary approach because it not only allows for a more complete understanding of the Radical Faeries, but also creates cultural theory that more accurately reflects LBGT people’s material reality.. While numerous LGBT subcultures have received scholarly and journalistic attention, Radical Faeries have received little. I hope for my project to help remedy this oversight. Furthermore, the small amount of existing Radical Faerie scholarship relies largely on published primary documents written by a few Radical Faeries. My research does not. Instead it is a culmination of four years of participant observation, recording and transcribing interviews with over 150 Radical Faeries, and archival research of unpublished documents, videos, and photographs. The amalgamation of sources and voices will create a multi-vocal and highly accessible academic text.
How will you utilize the grant you received and how will it help you achieve your academic and professional goals?
With this award, I will return to San Francisco’s History Center, which holds James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center’s archival collections. I visited San Francisco’s History Center in April 2013 and was overwhelmed by the large amount of materials related to Nomenus (a Radical Faerie church), Harry Hay (an organizer of the first Radical Faerie gathering and an influential figure within the Faeries), and various urban and rural West Coast Radical Faerie events and communities. Unaware of the collection’s size, I only scheduled a five-day trip to San Francisco and was therefore unable to review all of the materials relevant to my project. I have not been able to return due to a lack of funds. Returning to the archive this summer will allow me to access this material, which will make for a better dissertation.
June 19, 2015