glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Northampton  

Located in the Connecticut River Valley in the Berkshire Foothills of western Massachusetts, Northampton is a small city with a population of about 30,000, yet it has become a center of , especially of lesbian activism.

Northampton began as a Puritan community, purchased from the native Nonotouck tribe in 1654. Prior to 1808, it was a small farming community with limited access to the outside world because of transportation problems. But beginning in 1808, transportation improved with the erection of a series of bridges, the building of a canal, and an 1845 railroad linking Northampton to Springfield, New Haven, and the wider world. Excellent private preparatory schools for girls, boys, and deaf children were built in the area, as well as a vocational school.

Sponsor Message.

In 1871, Sophia Smith established Smith College, one of the few remaining elite women's colleges in the United States. Northampton's wider environment also includes four other colleges, including Amherst College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Hampshire College (known for its experimental and innovative curriculum), and Mount Holyoke College (the first institution for women's higher education in the United States).

Perhaps because of the high concentration of young, educated women in the region, along with its liberal politics, Northampton has become a magnet for queer culture and people. The town now boasts a glbtq community center, a gay men's chorus, referral networks for glbtq-friendly therapists and educators, and numerous social and support groups.

Glbtq-friendly businesses in the area include a lesbian inn, adoption agencies, attorneys, a sex toy shop, a store featuring glbtq merchandise and books, financial advisors specializing in domestic partner advising, jewelers specializing in commitment rings, a women's magazine, performance spaces, and a nightclub, all promoted by a glbtq chamber of commerce.

The queer culture of Northampton differs, however, from that of such queer hot spots as San Francisco and New York City. Northampton's queerness, while now very welcoming to gay men, is explicitly female and lesbian.

This has been the source of some controversy for the city's gay community, particularly in regards to the annual pride parade, which draws thousands of marchers and spectators, as well as participants in a post-parade rally. Particularly controversial has been the inclusion of bisexuals and people, though the march in recent years has been inclusive of all queer people.

In the early 1990s, lesbian separatism was strong in the city, leading to, for instance, bookstores and restaurants that admitted only women, as well as a newspaper that accepted advertisements only from lesbian-owned businesses, though those practices have since diminished. Notable lesbian residents include Leslea Newman, poet and author, as well as academics and political luminaries.

Politics in Northampton have also been contentious. Lesbians (whose numbers have been estimated variously from a few thousand to as many as 10,000) and other queer people have competed for influence with the old guard, who grew up in Northampton when it was still a local industrial center.

In the 1990s, one candidate for city council even ran on a platform of abolishing the pride parade. Additionally, a May 1995 city council measure establishing a domestic partnership registry was overturned by a voter referendum six months later.

However, recent years have led to more progressive local politics as lesbian residents have become established members of the political field.

Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur

     

 
zoom in
Main Street in Northampton, Massachussetts. Photograph by Daniel Heinl.
  
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about Social Sciences
 
   
spacer
Popular Topics:

The Arts

 
Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators
Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators


Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall
Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall


Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male
Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male


New Queer Cinema


White, Minor


Halston (Roy Halston Frowick)


Surrealism
Surrealism


Winfield, Paul


McDowall, Roddy
McDowall, Roddy


Cadinot, Jean-Daniel
Cadinot, Jean-Daniel

 
 


   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  Choruses and Bands

Since they were first established in the 1970s, lesbian and gay musical organizations have grown remarkably in number, size, and sophistication.

social sciences >> Overview:  Domestic Partnerships

"Domestic partnership" is the generic term for a variety of forms of legal and institutional recognition of same-sex couples that fall short of same-sex marriage.

social sciences >> Overview:  New York City

Off and on over two centuries, New York City has also reigned as the capital of homosexual, transgender, and queer life in America.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parades and Marches

Both parades and marches have served to render the glbtq community visible; whereas marches typically attempt to effect political change, parades and pride events affirm identity and community.

social sciences >> Overview:  San Francisco

San Francisco has enjoyed a reputation as a "gay mecca" since World War II.

literature >> Arvin, Newton

One of the most gifted critics of American literature of the mid-twentieth century, Newton Arvin is today most remembered as a lover and mentor of Truman Capote and as the central figure in a 1960 scandal at Smith College.

social sciences >> Maddow, Rachel

Political commentator Rachel Maddow became the first out lesbian to host a prime-time television news program when "The Rachel Maddow Show" premiered on MSNBC in September 2008.


    Bibliography
   

Kidder, Tracy. Home Town. New York: Random House, 1999.

Nathanson, Jessica. "Pride and Politics: Revisiting the Northampton Pride March, 1989-1993." Journal of Bisexuality 2.2-3 (2001): 143-62.

Van Vorhis, Jacqueline. 1984. The Look of Paradise: A Pictorial History of Northampton, MA. Blaine, Wash.: Phoenix Publishing, 1984.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Arthur, Mikaila Mariel Lemonik  
    Entry Title: Northampton  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 12, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/northampton.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

This Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.