Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution

Linda Hirshman, Author
Linda Hirshman. Harper, $27.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-196550-0
Reviewed on: 02/27/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-220225-3
Paperback - 443 pages - 978-0-06-196551-7
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This exuberant history of arguably the final and most difficult civil rights struggle relates, in surprisingly upbeat fashion, the fight “to slowly bend the arc of history toward justice” for gay men and women. The narrative begins in 1920 with gay migration to the cities, and the communities that developed—the “culture of socially acceptable criminality” of Prohibition and speakeasies gave homosexuals “a sort of respectability by association.” It continues with the transformation of the “homophile” Mattachine Society from Communist revolutionaries to attempts at conformity and the founding of the lesbian Daughters of Bilitis; the Stonewall uprising and the sexually liberated ’60s; the AIDS crisis and ACT UP; and the ongoing fight for military and marriage equality, each accompanied by incremental legal advances and its own backlash: the end of Prohibition, McCarthy and HUAC, the rise of Christian fundamentalism. Those who lived through some or all of these events may think that political columnist Hirshman’s (Hard Bargains: The Politics of Sex) enthusiasm minimizes the pain of past experience, and lesbians may feel relegated to a secondary presence, but the author’s portrayal of this transformation of the meaning of “the core concepts of citizenship—morality, sanity, loyalty”—and how “as this most marginalized group of Americans fought for full inclusion in the social order, they didn’t only change their world; they changed everyone’s world”—is undeniably inspiring. Agent: David Kuhn, Kuhn Projects. (June)
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