Allan Berube, a great historian of gay working class life died December 11, 2007 at the age of 61. Allan presented his amazing research on queer labor history in a slide show about the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union, CIO (1930s and 1940s) at PAW’s convention in Oakland CA in 1996. He co-led a workshop with Miriam Frank on recording union history at that same meeting and the next day he marched and danced in the streets with our contingent in the 1996 San Francisco June Pride parade. We will miss him deeply and we will honor his contributions as we mourn AND organize.
Below is the obituary from The Windy City Times, by Wayne Hoffman. It can be read online by visiting here: http://www.wctimes.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=16889
From the Times:
Berube was, for decades, an independent historian and community activist. He first came to progressive political activism in opposition to the Vietnam war, working with the American Friends Service Committee in Boston in the late 1960s, after dropping out of the University of Chicago. After coming out in 1969, he joined a “gay liberation collective household,” and later moved to San Francisco to join a gay commune for craftspeople. He remained in San Francisco for many years, and was one of the founders of the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project in 1978. His slide shows about women who dressed and passed as men — and married other women — were welcomed by enthusiastic audiences around the country.
Berube is best remembered for his groundbreaking work of gay history, published in 1990: Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II. The Lambda Literary Award-winning book, which was later adapted by Arthur Dong into a Peabody Award-winning documentary, was often cited in Senate hearings on the military’s anti-gay policies in 1993.
Martin Duberman, distinguished professor of history emeritus at the City University of New York, called Berube’s book “superb … not only in terms of his prose style, which was absolutely lucid and even elegant, but also in terms of the very fine-spun analysis. Allan was not one to create shallow generalizations about either a given individual or a series of events. He was utterly meticulous and utterly careful. No one will ever, I think, have to redo the book on World War II, and you can almost never say that about a historian or a given piece of historical research.”
In 1996, Berube received a “genius grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for his work.
For the past several years, Berube lived in Liberty, N.Y., in the Catskills. There, he owned a bed & breakfast, and operated Intelligent Design, a store selling mid-century modern collectibles. Berube’s partner, John Nelson, said, “Allan just loved it when people walked into the Liberty store, looked around, and were happy.”
In addition to Nelson, Berube is also survived by his mother and three sisters.
The National Executive Board and staff of Pride At Work send our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Allan. Because of the vision, tenacity, strength, and courage of people like Allan, people who broke down walls of homophobia, racism, and sexism, in their unions and their world, Pride At Work is able to exist today.
Thank you Allan, you will be sorely missed.