Judith "Jack" Halberstam is a professor at the University of Southern California whose specialties include cultural studies, and queer and gender theory. She speaks this week at the University of Pittsburgh Humanities Center. For a list of times and locations, go to www.humcenter.pitt.edu
Are the portrayals of LGBT people in mainstream media helpful?
One of the problems in mainstreaming queer characters is that people think in order to get a character accepted, they have to be totally normative. A lot of times the representation will have omitted any kind of gender variance. That means all the little gay boys who are feminine and all the little gay girls who are masculine are shoved back in the closet.
What media portrayals have been successful?
[The 2001 movie] By Hook or By Crook. It took for granted the audience would recognize the odd gendering of its characters and didn't make a huge deal of it.
It used to be if a film had a trans character, it had to be about why they were trans. ... Now there should be films with trans characters in there not simply about the ins and outs of transgenderism, but simply as characters.
How do we bridge the gap between LGBT communities that are so varied?
There has to be a different kind of politics. It's not going to be an "identity politics" of what we do as a group -- what do certain factions of LGBT community agree on? ... [I]t's time to rethink what we mean by queer politics and queer culture.
... There are all kinds of ways in which you might divide people politically. But new coalitions are on the horizon.