Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In Memory of Allan Berube

I just received word that Allan Berube, one of our pioneer gay historians, has died at the young age of 61. This obituary lists the cause of death as complications from stomach ulcers.

I never knew Allan, but I have taught his book, Coming Out Under Fire: the History of Gay Men and Women in World War II several times and honestly, even though it was published in 1990 there is still nothing on the subject that surpasses it. I particularly liked using it in the twentieth century survey, back in 1996, because it was the first exposure most of the students had had to the history of queer people, and linking that to a great historic event that they were familiar with opened them up to thinking about what else they didn't know about queer history. Allan's thorough research, his respect for people who opened their lives and personal collections to a researcher, and his graceful, lucid writing style were a model for what professional historians should aspire to, and a great reminder of the standard scholars working outside the academy can set for the rest of us. And Allan also set a standard for using one's intellectual gifts to enrich the public sphere. An activist at heart, he had a traveling slide show that for many years allowed diverse LGBTQ audiences to access their past, something that should remind all of us working in this field and others that scholarship is often at its best when it enlarges the worlds of individuals outside the circle of traditional scholarship.

Hasta la vista, Allan.

Hat tip to JKK.


GayProf said...

That is so sad. I still use his book for the U.S. survey.

Anonymous said...

I met Allan in 1979 shortly after I'd moved to SF. We lost touch, then I moved to Seattle, but I followed his work, and as a Vietnam era vet whose roommate was dishonorably discharged for being gay, I especially appreciated 'Coming Out Under Fire'. Now much older and still sentimental, I 'googled' Allan this year, and we talked ever so briefly, promising to talk again soon. Nothing could have surprised me more, nor felt sadder to me, than just tonight learning of his passing. He was a damn fine man.

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