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Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolutionby Linda Hirshman
Synopses & Reviews
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 recountsthe 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.
"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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Supreme Court lawyer and political pundit Linda Hirshman details the stunning story of how a resourceful and dedicated minority transformed the notion of American marriage equality and forged a campaign for cultural change that will serve as a model for all future political movements. In the vein of Taylor Branchs classic Parting of the Waters, Hirshmans groundbreaking Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution is the powerful story of a massive shift in American culture. Hirshman offers an insiders view of the crucial struggle that is leading to change, incorporating her unique experiences and insights and drawing upon new interviews—with movement titans such as Frank Kameny and Phyllis Lyon, with next-generation activists such as Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, and with allies including the likes of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand—to create a comprehensive, inspiring history of change in our time.
About the Author
Linda Hirshman, a lawyer and a pundit, is the author of Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World and many other books. In recent years, she has appeared on network and cable television shows, including 60 Minutes and The Colbert Report. She has also written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, Newsweek, Daily Beast, and Salon.
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