Toward a Queer Newark Left: Sexuality and Activism in the New Left and Black Power Eras, by Whitney Strub

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Raymond Proctor obituary, Star-Ledger, October 22, 1988. Courtesy Newark Community Project for People with AIDS Collection, Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, Newark Public Library. Courtesy Queer Newark Oral History Project.

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Hilda Hidalgo campaign flyer, 1965 United Freedom Ticket. Courtesy Puerto Rican Community Archives, New Jersey Hispanic Research & Information Center, Newark Public Library.

Chapter 3, “Toward a Queer Newark Left: Sexuality and Activism in the New Left and Black Power Eras” by Whitney Strub, explores the place of sexuality in the history of left politics in Newark. While left organizers have engaged with labor issues, antifascism, anticapitalism, antiracism, and environmental justice, their radical politics have often not extended to queer issues, and Strub shows how activists from the New Left to lesbian feminism navigated this complex political landscape.


Strub opens the chapter with the story of Raymond Proctor, an activist with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) who had sexual relationships with men. He discusses the ways that the homophobic atmosphere of CORE led to the erasure of Proctor’s queerness, which was belatedly and indirectly indicated through a request for donations to an AIDS activist group at his funeral. This was mentioned in a handwritten note on a copy of his obituary in the Newark Public Library physical archive—but not included in the People With AIDS Coalition records collection that the library has digitized.


Strub also uses Hilda Hidalgo as an example of the balancing act required of queer people on the left. Hidalgo was a Puerto Rican lesbian feminist who emphasized her sexuality in her academic career; an advertisement for her candidacy for county freeholder (now known as county commissioner), however, is one example of her decision to leave sexuality out of her public-facing political presence in Newark.