About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

#95: Victory

Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution, by Linda Hirshman
(New York: Harper, 2012)
"A Supreme Court lawyer and political pundit details the enthralling and groundbreaking story of the gay rights movement, revealing how a dedicated and resourceful minority changed America forever.

"When the modern struggle for gay rights erupted—most notably at a bar called Stonewall in Greenwich Village—in the summer of 1969, most religious traditions condemned homosexuality; psychiatric experts labeled people who were attracted to others of the same sex 'crazy;' and forty-nine states outlawed sex between people of the same gender. Four decades later, in June 2011, New York legalized gay marriage—the most populous state in the country to do so thus far. The armed services stopped enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ending a law that had long discriminated against gay and lesbian members of the military. Successful social movements are always extraordinary, but these advances were something of a miracle.

"Political columnist Linda Hirshman recounts the long roads that led to these victories, viewing the gay rights movement within the tradition of American freedom as the third great modern social-justice movement, alongside the civil rights movement and the women's rights movement. Drawing on an abundance of published and archival material, and hundreds of in-depth interviews, Hirshman shows, in this astute political analysis, how the fight for gay rights has changed the American landscape for all citizens—blurring rigid gender lines, altering the shared culture, and broadening our definitions of family.

"From the Communist cross-dresser Harry Hay in 1948 to New York's visionary senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2010, the story includes dozens of brilliant, idiosyncratic characters. Written in vivid prose, at once emotional and erudite, Victory is an utterly vibrant work of reportage and eyewitness accounts, revealing how, in a matter of decades, while facing every social adversary—church, state, and medical establishment—a focused group of activists forged a classic campaign for cultural change that will serve as a model for all future political movements."

Table of Contents:
  • Introduction: How an Army of Good Gays Won the West
  • 1. Gays and the Cities: Community First, Politics Later
  • 2. Red in Bed: It Takes a Communist to Recognize Gay Oppression
  • 3. It Was the Sixties That Did It: Gays Get Radical, Radicals Get Gay
  • 4. Stonewall Uprising:  Gays Finally Get Some Respect
  • 5. The Good Gays Fight the Four Horsemen: Crazy, Sinful, Criminal, and Subversive
  • 6. Dying for the Movement: The Terrible Political Payoff of AIDS
  • 7. ACT UP: Five Years That Shook the World
  • 8. Failed Marriages and Losing Battles: The Premature Campaign for Marriage and Military Service
  • 9. Founding Fathers: Winning Modern Rights Before Fighting Ancient Battles
  • 10. Massing the Troops for the Last Battle: The New-Media Gay Revolution
  • 11. With Liberal Friends: Who Needs Enemies?
  • 12. Victory: The Civil Rights March of Our Generation
  • Epilogue
My Take:
I've gotten backlogged in my blogging again (backblogged?) and don't recall either any especially profound reactions to the text or vivid pictures of what else was going on while I read it, but this was a thorough, informative, and engaging history of the U.S.'s final (as of right now) civil rights frontier. Victory should be required reading not just for the LGBT community (many of whom won't require a mandate anyway) but for their mostly straight allies (even if they/ we're afraid of what someone will think if they see them/ us carrying it at work) and for anyone interested in contemporary politics, culture, and social movements.

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