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New History Exhibits, Recent Research Findings, and the VIDA Count

New History Exhibits, Recent Research Findings, and the VIDA Count

Author: Julie Levine

March 15, 2013

From June 7 to Sept. 15, the New-York Historical Society will feature an exhibition called “AIDS in New York: The First Five Years.” The exhibition, which draws from a variety of archive materials such as diaries, audio and video clips, photographs and doctors’ notes, will delve into the social and political histories surrounding the outbreak of AIDS between 1981 and 1986, including personal stories from the first AIDS patients, circulating rumors of a “gay plague” following the news that more than half of these patients were homosexual, the continual spread of the disease through drug injections and blood transfusions, and early attempts to discover the cause of the disease and to find a solution to the problem.

And back in the present, the Williams Institute at UCLA in California recently conducted a study that revealed there are about 267,000 LGBT adult illegal immigrants in America. Additionally, there are about 637,000 LGBT immigrants in America with documents. Of the undocumented LGBT population, about 71 percent are Hispanics and about 15 percent are Asian or Pacific Islanders. These findings raise further questions about the future of marriage equality in this country. In short, as Dr. Gary Gates notes in a press release:

“It is estimated that 900,000 people in this country are LGBT immigrants, among whom more than 48,000 are in a same-sex couple where one or both spouses or partners are not U.S. citizens.”

Interestingly enough, a recent poll conducted by LifeWay Christian Resources discovered that 64 percent of individuals believe that regardless of whether or not they agree with the notion of same-sex marriage, it will inevitably become legal throughout the United States. Though the research organization is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the poll was said to have surveyed a representative sample of the population. In addition to the above percentage, the poll also discovered that 82 percent of individuals believe it is immoral to deny employment to an individual based on their sexual orientation, and 58 percent of individuals said they feel homosexuality is a civil rights issue no different from race or gender.

Speaking of gender, VIDA recently released their annual “VIDA Count,” which compares the representation of male and female writers in various journals over the course of the year. For the past several years, this year included, the results have shown that men are, overall, more substantially represented throughout publications than women.

A major counterargument to VIDA’s findings is that the organization does not show the ratio between the number of male and female submissions or solicitations to each journal, and that without these kinds of numbers, there is no way to know whether or not the results prove gender inequality is reality or that there are simply more men submitting to publications than women. In light of this argument, Rob Spillman of Tin House, one of the surveyed journals with the most favorable results for women writers, noted an illuminating fact:

“We found that women contributors and women we rejected with solicitations to resubmit were five times less likely submit than their male counterparts. So basically we stopped asking men, because we knew they were going to submit anyway, and at the same time made a concerted effort to re-ask women to contribute.”

This seems to raise questions beyond the concept of gender inequality, pointing to a sociological discrepancy between men and women. When it comes to gender equality in the literary world, do women still have a long way to go, or could it be that more aggressive submitting is the key to greater representation of women in publications?

Julie Levine photo

About: Julie Levine

Julie Levine is a poetry MFA candidate at The New School. She received a BA in English and Creative Writing from Emory University. Her work is forthcoming in Tar River Poetry.

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