Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America

Dudley Clendinen, Author, Adam Nagourney, Joint Author Simon & Schuster $30 (720p) ISBN 978-0-684-81091-1
In this sprawling, personality-driven narrative, Clendinen and Nagourney, editorial writer and reporter, respectively, for the New York Times, attempt to cover the evolution of the gay rights movement from the Stonewall riots in 1969 to the founding of ACT UP in 1987, with a brief epilogue on Clinton's election and promises to gay activists in 1992. Adopting the almost fictionalized style popularized by Randy Shilts, the authors draw on hundreds of personal interviews--with major gay rights activists and those who have led anti-gay crusades--as well as gay and mainstream press accounts. Despite its ambition to make historical sense of the successes, failures and contradictions homosexuals have faced in securing gay rights, the book often falls short of conveying the complexity the material demands. While the authors show a commendable impulse to investigate such cities as Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Miami, they more often focus on the standard nexus of New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Similarly, the emphasis on prominent national groups (such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) and legislative and judicial change, rather than on the gains won by smaller grassroots efforts, doesn't always successfully encompass the broader social and political contexts in which change occurs. While it successfully delineates major themes--such as the tensions between assimilationist and liberation politics, between lesbians and gay men and the inevitable backlash that occurs after political gains--and provides a good, if overly detailed, introduction to the topic, the book lacks the nuance and political insight that would have made it the definitive social and political history it aspires to be. Agent, Kathy Robbins. Author tour. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1999
Release date: 06/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 720 pages - 978-0-684-86743-4
Open Ebook - 720 pages - 978-1-4767-4071-3
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