Plane queer : labor, sexuality, and AIDS in the history of male flight attendants

by Philip James Tiemeyer

Paper Book, 2013


In this vibrant new history, Phil Tiemeyer details the history of men working as flight attendants. Beginning with the founding of the profession in the late 1920's and continuing into the post-September 11 era, Plane Queer examines the history of men who joined workplaces customarily identified as female-oriented. It examines the various hardships these men faced at work, paying particular attention to the conflation of gender-based, sexuality-based, and AIDS-based discrimination. Tiemeyer also examines how this heavily gay-identified group of workers created an important place for gay men to come out, garner acceptance from their fellow workers, fight homophobia and AIDS phobia, and advocate for LGBT civil rights. All the while, male flight attendants facilitated key breakthroughs in gender-based civil rights law, including an important expansion of the ways that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act would protect workers from sex discrimination. Throughout their history, men working as flight attendants helped evolve an industry often identified with American adventuring, technological innovation, and economic power into a queer space.… (more)



Call number




Berkeley : University of California Press, [2013]


User reviews

LibraryThing member yooperprof
This is a model monograph: a detailed, informative, and historically compelling narrative that investigates the men who challenged gender norms by entering into the profession of air stewards/flight attendants, from the 1930s to the present. (The book was published in 2012.)

It's true that I am
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something of an ideal reader for Plane Queer: a gay historian who has taught courses on Queer American Life. Moreover, I am the product of an airline household - my mother a stewardess in the 1950s, until upon marriage she was forced to give up her career, and my father a life-long employee of TWA, who spend much of his employment as a manage and trainer of ground services. Having had something of a front-row seat into the aviation industry for much of my life, I was fascinated to read Tiemeyer's excellent account of the way in which male flight attendants battled the sexism of American society and of national and international airlines, until they were ultimately allowed to succeed in a career that was well attuned to their interests and personalities.
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Lambda Literary Award (Finalist — 2014)
John Boswell Prize (Winner — 2015)



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