“death reveals masquerade” (update, search terms, and random bonus archival item)

It’s been a while since I posted anything. I’ve hustling on the professor side of my life (lots of student papers at the end of last semester, class planning for the beginnings of this semester, some academic writing deadlines, etc.), but one of my personal commitments for the year is to write here more regularly. I’m going to aim for one post around 700-1000 words a week and go from there. I have a draft of a morality and sex work part II post, but I’m a little tentative about sharing it just now, so I thought I’d go ahead and write a brief update on what’s going on with the project instead. I’m going to present my research to my local Lexington Rotary Club tomorrow night. Here’s the Prezi I’ll be presenting. I hope to add a voice over to this presentation so that people can click through it as though I were actually there in person, but for now it’s just pictures and writing: 100YrsofBrothelsCoverPic(https://bit.ly/100yrsofBrothelsPrezi) I’m also working to revise my already-published podcast and video (yes, there’s a video, but I haven’t published it anywhere yet) to include sound clips from the oral history interviews that I conducted. There is a second podcast on the way as well. And finally, I’ve been working on a publication package (agent query letter, proposal, sample chapter, annotated toc) so I can publish this project as a trade book. As with most things, time is the issue. Even though you supposedly have all this time to write as a professor, my job seems to insist on getting in the way of my writing time. In the meantime, I have been fascinated by checking in on my blog analytics to see how people find my little corner of the web, and plan to experiment with a small site makeover in the not-too-distant future (happy to hear your feedback on this front as well). For now, I wanted to share a screen shot of recent search terms that led people to find this webspace, because I bet others will enjoy it as much as I have been (I fuzzed out the judge’s name out of respect for privacy): Search Terms And a random treat: while I was working on an article for publication in a scholarly venue over Christmas, I rediscovered this little archival item that I don’t think has a home but thought people might be interested in it, so I’m reproducing it in part below. I found this in the summer of 2010 in the Wallace District Mining Museum archival collection. It was a newspaper obituary that was in the “Historic” file, in a folder labeled “Residents of Shoshone County from 1880s to Present”:

“Death Reveals Masquerade” [no date] Haugan [Montana] — The strange case of the death of the man who lived as a woman came to light this week with the death of Herbert C. Upton also known as Gayle Starr. The man had been living on the Guy Ghilheri [sic] ranch near Haugan for the past year…. Mineral County Sheriff-Coroner Francis Tamietti was summoned and the body was taken to a mortuary. There the unusual nature of the deceased was discovered. Unusual, because as far as any local people knew, the man represented himself as a woman. He wore woman’s clothing, used heavy make-up and used the feminine name Gayle Starr. Last year he worked as a waitress in a West End cafe. Fingerprints were sent to the FBI files for identification, but newspaper clippings indicated a connection with the name Herbert C. Upton. He was about 50 years of age.

Now that we have more awareness and acceptance about transgender people, we would probably write a different narrative for Gayle Starr’s obituary [Update: one of my former colleagues actually followed up on this story and attempted to do something along these lines. Check it out here: https://lifebeyondbivalence.blogspot.com/2015/03/meditations-on-life-of-gayle-starr.html]. Thought some people I know might be interested in this little piece of Inland Northwest trans history. Lots of exciting stuff happening with this project–I’ll be coming back to Wallace again this summer and am hoping to share my work with WHS alumni who come back for the All-Class/Slippery Gulch (just got my invite in the mail), and I am looking forward to hearing more stories from people. My big goal is to finish a full draft of the project by late August. Stay tuned for more soon!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *