Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present

Neil Miller, Author Vintage Books USA $16 (657p) ISBN 978-0-679-74988-2
Bachelor lawyer Abraham Lincoln shared a bed with Illinois storekeeper Joshua Speed for three years starting in 1839. Because of its portrayal of a lesbian ``Boston marriage,'' Henry James's The Bostonians was omitted from the 26-volume Scribner edition of his works published 1907-1917. The facts recounted in this chronicle of gay and lesbian history from Walt Whitman to the movie Philadelphia range from the trivial to the interesting to the revelatory, with chapter-length narratives on the Harlem Renaissance and Paris in the 1920s; the Oscar Wilde and Radclyffe Hall trials; the romantic relationships between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok; homosexual entanglements among the Bloomsbury set; and Native American men who dressed and lived as women. Miller (Out in America) uses a conventional textbook style that at times infuriates with the simplicity of its tone. Although he uses fairly well-known primary source material, his excerpts are intriguing: A moving passage from Marvin Leibman's Coming Out Conservative illustrates his experience with discrimination in the military during WWII; Gide's autobiography recaptures his impression of meeting Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas at 25. This overview shows how some recent advances merely reprise gains made and lost in the past; while some past activities outdid anything in the present. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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