Brief History of the
GLBT Movement in the US
published in a shorter version by Homolexis.blogspot.com, November 4, 2010.
Reproduced here with permission of the author.
STIRRINGS IN THE UNITED STATES
AMERICA IN THE
THE STONEWALL UPRISING AND AFTER
THE AIDS CHALLENGE AND NEW REALITIES
A NEW CENTURY DAWNS
HISTORIES, REFERENCE WORKS, AND THEORETICAL
BIOGRAPHIES (INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE),
AND COLLECTED INTERVIEWS
HOMOPHILE ERA (1950-1969)
AND ITS AFTERMATH
APPENDIX: Bibliographical Control
the roots of the worldwide movement for gay and lesbian civil rights
Central Europe. Following important scholarly contributions
Hössli and K.H. Ulrichs, the world's
first homosexual organization
came into being in 1897. This was the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäre
Komitee (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee),
founded in Berlin under
the leadership of Magnus
Hirschfeld (1868-1935), a physician who became the
controversial, authority on same-sex behavior in the years that
Outside Germany the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee only
imitators, one reason being that countries that followed the Code
had no criminal statute to spur efforts for legal reform. In
Netherlands a branch was founded in 1911. Another offshoot of
Committee appeared in Vienna in 1906 to seek reform of the Austrian law
More informally, trends in favor of gay rights developed in
France and, almost
clandestinely, in Great Britain. In fact, the English-speaking world
sadly behind Europe, as the traditional "Anglo-Saxon attitudes"
toward sexuality changed but slightly in spite of protests after the
condemnation of Oscar Wilde. At the end of the
1920s Bertrand Russell
wrote that it would be virtually impossible to discuss the findings of
psychologists on sexuality in print because of the English laws on
"criminal obscenity," which the courts had defined as the power to
corrupt any individual "into whose hands the publication might fall."
A British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology had
in 1914, but its real interest focused in the subcommittee on sexual
which was surreptitiously a "committee of the whole."
STIRRINGS IN THE
In the United States, Henry
Gerber, who had served in the American Army of
Occupation in the
Rhineland, attempted to transplant the ideas and organizational forms
German movement. In December 1924 the (Chicago) Society for
received a charter from the state of Illinois; it was officially
"promote and protect" the interests of those who, because of
"mental and physical abnormalities" were hindered in the
"pursuit of happiness." It lasted only long enough to publish a few
issues of the newspaper Friendship and Freedom,
modeled on the German
periodical Freundschaft und Freiheit. One member of
the ill-fated group
was a bisexual whose wife complained to a social worker, with the
all four members of the group were arrested without a warrant. Gerber
lost all his savings and had only the bitter memory that no one came to
of the organization.
With the exception of Gerber's heroic
effort, the United States had no
tradition of homosexual movement activity, though many Americans had
Central Europe and Hitler's persecution brought exile and
emigré homosexuals to
such centers of the American gay underworld as New York and Los
"Vice squads" of the metropolitan police forces regularly entrapped
homosexual men, raided bars, and generally intimidated public
same-sex proclivities. As early as 1948 in Southern California "Bachelors
for Wallace" had appeared as a cover for the gathering of
but Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy's campaign
perverts in government" put the gay community on the defensive: its
response was the founding of the Mattachine Society
in Los Angeles by Henry
(Harry) Hay in December 1950. With leadership modeled on the
forms and practices of the American Communist Party and of freemasonry,
designed a five-tiered structure that would preserve the anonymity of
while allowing the highest tier to control the entire group. The
conceived homosexuals in a separatist manner as a minority deprived of
and rights, and needing a new consciousness of its history and place in
society. Initial successes of the group led to growth in Southern
and spread to the San Francisco Bay Area, with chapters elsewhere in
country (these became independent in 1961). Mattachine
also had a
nationally circulated monthly, ONE, which for the
first time provided
American homosexuals with a forum for discussion of their problems and
aspirations. In the course of time ONE emerged as
organization, while the original group's San Francisco branch issued Mattachine
ONE Inc.'s Articles of Incorporation were
dated on November 15, 1952 and
were signed by “Tony Sanchez” (a pseudonym), Martin
Block, and Dale
Jennings. Other founders were Merton Bird, W. Dorr
Legg, Don Slater, and
Chuck Rowland. Jennings and Rowland
were also Mattachine
In January 1953 ONE, Inc. began
publishing ONE Magazine, the
first U.S. pro-gay publication, selling it openly on the streets of Los
and elsewhere by mail. In October 1954 the U.S. Postal Service declared
magazine “obscene.” ONE sued,
and finally won in 1958, as part of the
landmark First Amendment case, Roth v. United States. The monthly
In the spring of 1965 ONE divided in two
over irreconcilable differences
between ONE's business manager Dorr Legg
and ONE Magazine
editor Don Slater. After a two-year court battle, Dorr
faction retained the name “ONE, Inc.,”
while Don Slater's faction
kept much of the archives. In 1968, Slater's
faction became the Homosexual
Information Center (HIC) a
non-profit corporation that survives
In 1996, ONE, Inc. merged with ISHR,
the Institute for the
Study of Human Resources, a non-profit organization created
transgendered philanthropist Reed Erickson. In
October 2010, ONE
transferred its archives to the University of Southern California for
Returning now to the 1950s, the anti-Communist campaigns of
the cold war did
not leave the Mattachine Society untouched, and in
1953 an open struggle
developed between the founders and a new set of leaders who challenged
"separatist" ideology, instead stressing the normality of homosexuals
as differing from other Americans only in sexual identity. With this
assimilationist program went a rejection of activism, so that the group
only by proxy appeal for toleration and understanding - through
jurists, sociologists, and the like who would come forward as seemingly
The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) ranks as
the first lesbian rights group
in the United States. A couple, Del Martin and Phyllis
started the group in San Francisco in October 1955. Lasting for
the organization was conceived as a social alternative to lesbian bars,
subject to raids and police harassment. DOB gave birth to The
the first nationally distributed lesbian publication in the United
Edited by Barbara Gittings and others, the magazine
monthly from 1956 to 1970,and once every other month in 1971 and 1972.
In 1953 a series of sensational trials in England brought the
homosexuality to the attention of Parliament. Urged by the Church of
a number of prominent intellectuals, the Conservative
government appointed a
Committee on Homosexual Offenses and Prostitution headed by John
After hearing the testimony of witnesses from the British
Committee voted 12-1 in favor of repeal of the existing laws punishing
homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. The Wolfenden
published in September 1957, proved a major landmark in the evolution
opinion in the English-speaking world. It held that sexual acts
belonged to the
realm of private life which was not the law's business, rejecting the
theological arguments that these were "crimes against nature,"
"contrary to the will of God," and the like, just as it dismissed the
notion of homosexuality as a disease, finding it - to the chagrin of
psychiatric establishment - compatible with full mental and physical
In a country where the whole subject had been taboo since
time immemorial, and
where German homophile literature had remained largely unknown, the
discussion of the Wolfenden Report put the issue on
the agenda and set
the precedent, though ten years were to pass before a Labour government
At the time, these British developments were closely followed
in the United
States, where in 1961 the American Bar Association's
drafting of a model
penal code that omitted homosexual offenses from
the roster of punishable
acts. Illinois, in 1961, became the first state to enact this
recommendation. Furthermore, professors of criminal law at the major
schools began to teach the coming generation of lawyers that
"victimless crimes" had no place on the statute books because they
violated the freedom and privacy of the individual, and in the ensuing
decades most of the states of the Union struck the archaic laws from
the books either by legislative act or by an appellate court decision
holding them unconstitutional. Much of the credit for this
change is due to the work of the National Committee for Sexual Civil
Liberties headed by Arthur Warner. However, it was not until the United
States Supreme Court took action in 2003 that the sodomy laws finally
disappeared in this country.
AMERICA IN THE 1960s
Arguably, the period from 1961 to 1969 saw the evolution of
homophile movement from a defensive, self-doubting handful of small,
groups in California and the Boston-Washington corridor to an
self-confident, nationally organized (if ideologically divided)
some three score organizations with substantial allies and a string of
gains for which it could take credit.
A characteristic figure in the ideological change was Franklin
a Harvard-trained astronomer, who became president of the Mattachine
of Washington after unsuccessfully fighting his
dismissal from a
government job. Where the previous leaders of the movement emphasized
"helping the individual homosexual adjust to society," Kameny
such associates as Barbara Gittings, Randy Wicker, and
urged a program of militant action designed to transform society on
behalf of a
homosexual community which was perfectly capable of speaking for
the psychiatrists, not the theologians, not the heterosexual
"authorities," but homosexuals themselves were the experts on
homosexuality, they insisted. Progress would come not by accommodation
powers-that-be but by publicly applied pressure, legal action,
and aggressive publicity.
Operating from his base in Washington, DC, Kameny
targeted the federal
government's discriminatory practices in employment, military service,
clearances (a key to employment in large sectors of private industry),
other areas. Finding that government officials were relying on the
current in psychoanalytic and other psychiatric circles to the effect
homosexuality was a debilitating mental illness, Kameny launched
systematic and rigorously formulated attack on the medical model in
While this effort would make considerable progress during the 1960s,
support from a National Institutes of Mental Health task force under Dr.
Evelyn Hooker (1969), it was not to reach its triumphant
conclusion until a
1973 vote by the American Psychiatric Association.
More importantly, the
campaign transformed the self-image of the American homosexual from one
internalized many of the most negative characteristics attributed to
homosexuals by homophobic "authorities" to one which embraced his
slogan "Gay is good."
Other activists, such as Laud Humphreys
and Arthur Cyrus Warner,
preferred to work more quietly, though their efforts too reflected the
of urgency. The National Committee for Sexual Civil Liberties,
Warner, orchestrated a subtle and resourceful
campaign of sodomy
decriminalization, which proceeded methodically on a state-by-state
through the 1960s and 1970s.
Throughout the decade, mass media coverage of homosexuality
with Randy Wicker's publicity barrage of 1962 in
New York and extending
through articles on homosexual lifestyles in national magazines, until
once-forbidden topic had become a common subject for television and
In the process, previously isolated homosexuals became aware of the gay
subculture and the homophile movement in large numbers and the ground
for substantial shifts in public, as well as professional, opinion on
concern to the movement. Notable also was the favorable publicity and
support extended to the hard-pressed movement from the Playboy
The movement's involvement with the social life of
homosexuals was another
major development of the sixties, originating in San Francisco. First
organizing of gay bars there in the Tavern Guild
(1962), then the
founding of the Society for Individual Rights (S.
I. R.) in
September 1964, combining a militant stance with social activities.
This led to
the first gay community center in April 1966, and made S. I.
nearly a thousand members, the largest homophile organization in the
Other milestones in San Francisco saw the involvement of
liberal clergymen and
then whole religious groups (Council on Religion and the
founded by the Rev. Ted Mcllvenna in December 1964,
and spreading to a
number of other cities later in the decade); and the beginnings of
political involvement with candidates for office and city officials
1966). These innovations heralded San Francisco's later reputation as
"gay capital" of the United States.
Southern California contributed the first nationally
large-circulation homophile news magazine, The Advocate
(1967 onward). Dick
Michaels, the magazine's editor, represented a new type that
influential: the journalist-activist. In October 1968, Los Angeles
the founding by the Rev. Troy Perry of the first
gay church, the Metropolitan
Community Church (MCC); from the start
the MCC and its leaders were
heavily involved in the homophile movement and provided major financial
Another organizational breakthrough of lasting importance was
of the homophile movement in academia, beginning with the founding of
Homophile League at New York's Columbia University by Stephen
(Robert Martin) in October 1966. Granted a charter by the
April 1967, and making front-page headlines around the world, the
movement spread quickly and contributed a major impetus first to the
militancy and later to the radicalization of the homophile movement.
An important victory on the issue of employment
discrimination came with the Bruce
Scott case, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed Scott's
for federal employment in a June 1965 decision. This set the ground for
Civil Service Commission's acceptance of homosexuals in the 1970s.
progress was made on the issue of security clearances, while efforts to
admission to the armed forces remained stymied.
Another result of the new militancy was the
recognition by the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of the
movement as a legitimate civil
rights activity. The national ACLU reversed its
policy in 1967 under
pressure from the Washington, D.C., area affiliate, which began backing
homophile causes in 1964, supported by the two California affiliates;
decision did much to legitimize the movement and gave it much-needed
a wide range of legal and legislative issues.
On a local rather than a national scale, homophile
organizations were often
involved in contesting police practices, and were successful in halting
on gay bars and entrapment of homosexuals in New York, San Francisco,
cities. This effort probably had the greatest impact on the life of the
homosexual in the cities concerned.
A major transformation in the movement of the 1960s led from
fearful members of the early 1960s, operating under pseudonyms and
involvement with the public, to the highly visible and equally vocal
of the latter part of the decade. Landmarks in this evolution were the
public demonstrations organized by the movement in the spring
of 1965 at the
United Nations in New York in April and at the White House on May 29.
latter picket, with seven men and three women participating, gained
television coverage, thus exposing the new gay militancy to a
audience for the first time.
These changes in philosophy, strategy, and tactics did not
come easily, but
were accompanied by bitter struggles within the movement between the
militants and the old-guard "accommodationists"; the New York
Mattachine Society, which was captured by militants in a
in May 1965, and the Daughters of Bilitis in
particular were wracked by
internal struggles and eventually foundered. New groups took their
tendency by the movement to devour its leaders generated continual
organizational instability. Despite these problems, the period
growth in the total membership of its groups from under a thousand in
an estimated eight to ten thousand by the spring of 1969.
While there is a popular tendency to believe that nothing of
happened in the homophile movement until it expanded to the dimensions
mass movement in the summer of 1969, such a view proves on examination
highly superficial. The explosion of the 1970s was made possible only
laborious efforts of the pioneers of the 1960s, and in particular by
victory of the militants. As John D'Emilio pointed
decisive break with the acommodationist spirit of the 1950s opened
options for the homophile cause. The militants' rejection of the
their assertion of equality, their uncompromising insistence that gays
recognition as a persecuted minority, and their defense of
homosexuality as a
viable way of living loosened the grip of prevailing norms on the
self-conception of lesbians and homosexuals and suggested the
contours of a
new, positive gay identity."
One of the characteristic developments of the homophile
movement in the 1960s
was its attempt to forge a semblance of first regional, then national,
finally continental unity under the umbrella of a common organization. Frank
Kameny initiated this effort, stimulating the
formation in January 1963,
in Philadelphia, of the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO).
It was this loose confederation of four groups which sponsored the
public demonstrations launched in May of 1965 at the White House, and
a major role in gaining control of the movement on the East Coast by
The next step was the formation of a national grouping,
established at a Kansas
City conference of fifteen groups in February, 1966, as the National
Planning Conference of Homophile Organizations. Meeting in
San Francisco in
August of 1966, this loose assembly reconvened in Washington a year
where it changed its name to the North American Conference of
Organizations (NACHO), developed an
organizational structure with
officers, by-laws, and established three regional subsidiaries (ECHO
Though wracked by infighting among the groups, NACHO
provided a largely
informal but no less important boost to a sense of common purpose and
among the leaders who attended its annual meetings and more frequent
conferences, and to a certain extent among the rank-and-file members
of its activities. It facilitated the spread of a militant approach on
nationwide basis, and presented the national media and other
nationally-organized groups with a more formidable-looking movement.
Much credit for holding NACHO together
was due to its secretary and
coordinator, Foster Gunnison. Among its more
it established a national legal fund, coordinated public demonstrations
nationwide basis, undertook a number of regional projects, and
adopted and publicized the "Gay Is Good" slogan (adopted in Chicago
in 1968). Furthermore, NACHO and its regional
instrumental in spreading the movement from its bicoastal base by
the major cities of the North American heartland. And from 1968 until
demise in 1970 it provided a major forum for the growing radical wing
THE STONEWALL UPRISING AND AFTER
The slow pace of the American movement in the 1950s was
accelerated in the
early and mid-1960s in part under the influence of the black civil
movement ("Gay Is Good" derives from "Black Is Beautiful"),
then injected with the tremendous energies that accompanied the
the war in Vietnam. With American involvement in Vietnam at its peak,
uprisings shook the campuses of Columbia and Harvard Universities in
1969, and by the late spring of 1969 the country was in a mood of
mass agitation. It was against this background that New
Rebellion of June 27-30,1969, marked the start of a new,
radical, and more
militant phase of the homosexual movement in the United States.
In recent years, some scholars have sought to diminish the
importance of the Stonewall
Rebellion, claiming that it was mainly important because the
played it up. There is some truth in this assertion, but still the
an enormous resonance. Frank Kameny has estimated
that in the immediate
aftermath of Stonewall, the number of gay and lesbian groups increased
ten-fold. Others have pointed to the records of other episodes of
For the most part, however, these were small-scale affairs, occasioned
mundane occurrence of police raids against gay establishment. While it
such a police raid, Stonewall expanded to become a mass event involving
sorts of people who were not patrons of the bar. (For a list of
events, beginning in 1959, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pre-Stonewall_LGBT_actions_in_the_United_States.)
In the wake of the June 1969 event, the popular movement
found a its most
immediate expression in New York's Gay Liberation Front (GLF).
The GLF was conceived as uniting
homosexuals (without guidance or
even participation from sympathetic heterosexuals) around their own
and grievances against an oppressive American society and as organizing
force their own liberation from the persecution and powerlessness that
their lot even in the "land of the free." The radicals saw themselves
as part of a broad alliance of oppressed groups developing autonomously
an atmosphere of mutual support.
Superficial as was the New Left rhetoric of the Gay
since the analysis of the whole problem began virtually “from
scratch,” it had
the merit of giving its followers a sense of identity as a group
oppressed by the established social structure. The black and women's
as well as their homophile predecessors supplied the ideological
the growing organization needed to legitimate itself in its own eyes,
those of the larger society.
The new Gay Liberation activists quickly
collided with the pre-Stonewall
movement leaders, whom they saw as part of an establishment structure
for the kind of guerrilla warfare unleashed by Stonewall. Only two
the riot, at the August 1969 NACHO convention in
Kansas City, the Youth
Committee under Donaldson issued a 12-point
manifesto" which stated, "We regard established heterosexual
standards of morality as immoral and refuse to condone them by
equality which is merely the common yoke of sexual repression." The
leaders further demanded the removal of strictures against
sex, and sex by the young; urged the development of independent
"homosexual ethics and esthetics," denounced the Vietnam War and
declared "the persecution of homosexuality" to be "part of a
general attempt to oppress all minorities and keep them powerless."
The committee report was voted down, but the battle had just
begun. The next
confrontation came at the November 1969 meeting of ERCHO
Philadelphia, when GLF and SHL delegates
pushed through a
resolution declaring "freedom from society's attempts to define and
human sexuality," a step beyond the movement's previous insistence on
equality into the realm of social autonomy. Chaos ensued and the
up in disorder.
The handwriting was on the wall: when NACHO
reconvened in San Francisco
in August, 1970, gay liberation was over a year old and had no use for
continental organizations with their bylaws, officers, and
procedures. Deeply divided between reformers and revolutionaries,
object of disruption by feminists on its first day and by radicals on
NACHO broke up in disorder as the more conservative delegates fled
invasion by non-delegate radicals. Thus the five-year effort to bring
North America's movement groups under a single roof collapsed in a
of gay activists.
In New York, those who called for a return to the
approach seceded to found the Gay Activists Alliance,
radical tactics of confrontation but focused on the specific problems
homosexuals in American society. "Zaps," sit-ins, blockades, seizures
of lecterns and microphones, and disruptive tactics of all kinds were
in highly publicized scenes which astonished the American public, long
an image of homosexuals as passive and weak. And now it was not just
the sodomy laws that the movement demanded, but the enactment of
legislation protecting the rights of homosexual men and women in all
life. None of this would have been possible without the ability of the
groups to call out hundreds and then thousands of supporters, drawing
post-Stonewall mass base which the homophile movement had never been
This new wave of mass "coming out" led to the formation of
of gay associations with particular identities: political clubs,
groups, religious organizations, professional caucuses, social clubs,
discussion groups in towns and neighborhoods from one end of the
country to the
other. Far from the margin to which it had been confined until the end
1960s, the movement became an institutionalized part of American life.
two decades that followed the Stonewall uprising, the movement grew to
network of interest groups as diverse in its origins, as multi-faceted
identities and aspirations as America itself. National marches held in
Washington in 1979 and again in 1987 brought tens of thousands of
from all sections of the country, rallying behind the banners of
different groups all demanding their place in the sun.
The proliferation of gay groups in the 1970s led to a
fragmentation of concerns
and a lessening of a sense of focus for the homophile movement as a
Victories were attained on the psychiatric front (the American
Association's 1973 vote and subsequent defeat of a campaign
to reverse that
vote) and in a number of nationwide professional associations, but the
for decriminalization continued to be fought on a state-by-state basis,
with the demise of NACHO there was no longer a
national leadership. The Rev. Troy Perry was the
most visible homophile
spokesman as his Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan
expanded to nearly two hundred congregations and Perry engaged in
publicized hunger strikes, led marches, and addressed protest meetings,
arson destroyed a number of his church buildings. In 1974, Dr.
formerly president of GAA in New York, founded the National
Force (NGTF, subsequently NLGTF),
organization rather than a federation. The NLGTF
lobbied on nationwide
issues and in the next decade moved to Washington, but it never
In New York City the march (or parade) known as Christopher
Liberation Day took place on June 28, 1970. This, the first
gay pride march
in the United States, covered 51 blocks from Christopher Street to
Park. Today, GLBT pride parades are held annually
in many cities and
countries throughout the world, even (though controversially) in
Moscow. The month of June is widely considered Gay Pride Month.
In the seventies, much of the movement was turning its attention to the
adoption of gay civil rights laws, ordinances, and executive orders,
and to the
blocking of numerous attempts to repeal their scattered successes. In
absence of major progress towards a federal civil-rights law, this was
effort, though the campaigns pro and con often drew considerable
publicity. Portland, Oregon, and St. Paul, Minnesota adopted rights
in 1974, San Francisco in 1978, Los Angeles and Detroit in 1979, and
City in 1986; Wisconsin adopted a statewide gay rights law in 1981,
Massachusetts in 1990 and Hawaii in 1991. Two Christian
singer Anita Bryant and the Rev. Jerry
Falwell, led extensive
homophobic campaigns which produced repeal of rights measures in Miami
St. Paul, and Wichita, Kansas. Their efforts, however, suffered a major
with the defeat in a California statewide vote of the Briggs
which would have banned gay teachers, in 1978.
The 1970s also saw the appearance of the North
American Man/Boy Love
Association (NAMBLA). Despite its
controversial nature, this concern
seemed at first destined to take a place in the overall spectrum of the
gay political-activism community. The first Gay Pride parades in New
included boy-love-themed entries. But this tolerance was not
last. By 1994, the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots,
entry in the NYC Gay Pride parade was met with catcalls and derision by
observers. NAMBLA was excluded from the International
and Gay Association (ILGA). A
key problem was the reluctance
of the group to distinguish between pedophilia in the strict sense
attraction to children) and pederasty and ephebophilia (erotic
teenagers). Even the latter was too much for most mainstream
gay men and
lesbians, who regarded NAMBLA as a distraction at
best, a toxic danger
at worst. After an extensive and highly damaging lawsuit (Curley v.
that remains of the organization today is a website, two postboxes, an
and a loosely associated remnant of members.
The Radical Faerie movement started in
the United States among gay men
as a reflection of the 1970s counterculture. The Faeries
their name to the 1979 Spiritual Conference for Radical
organized as a "call to gay brothers" by early gay rights advocates Harry
Hay, John Burnside, Don Kilhefner, and Mitch Walker.
seek to challenge the commercial, consumerist, and "patriarchal"
aspects of contemporary GLBT life. The Faerie subculture
characteristics with Neo-Marxism, feminism, paganism, Native American
Age spirituality, anarchism, the mythopoetic men's movement, radical
individualism, the therapeutic culture of self-fulfillment and
self-actualization, and earth-based movements in support of sustainable
communities. Embracing a range of expressive styles, the Faeries
freely combine spiritual solemnity with camp, gender-bending, and
The magical and "radical humanist" views of Arthur Evans,
specifically his 1978 book “Witchcraft and the Gay
influenced some early members of the movement.
Evans had previously
formed the Faery Circle in San Francisco in the
fall of 1975, a group
that "combined neo-pagan consciousness, gay sensibility, and ritual
play." Some participants have cooperated to create Radical
sanctuaries in rural parts of the US and other countries.
their tendency to separatism, the Faeries have had
Gay men and lesbians became visible in party politics and
homosexual delegates to Democratic national conventions, forcing
"gay rights" planks (a weak one was adopted in 1980), and making
homosexuality a presidential campaign issue; under the Carter
gay delegation was received by aide Midge Costanza
in the White House
and military discharge policies were changed to provide for fully
Discharges, though the exclusion of known homosexuals from the armed
remained intact. Notable here was the effort to avoid discharge by Air
Leonard Matlovich, whose fight brought him a Time cover in
1975. In San
Francisco, the movement rallied behind supervisor (councilman) Harvey
who was first elected and then assassinated in 1978; elsewhere the
welcomed the emergence (usually but not always involuntary) of gay
and congressmen from their closets.
Reinforcing this movement activity was a thriving gay
subculture, with its
bars, baths, bookstores, guest houses, and services of all kinds, and
a press that discussed the issues that confronted the gay community as
segment of American society.
Given the extent of America's influence on popular culture
world, this subculture became a model for gay life everywhere, from
Taiwan--though the Islamic world still resisted this aspect of
The American example inspired countless imitators of the "life style"
of the affluent and hedonistic America of the 1970s. In Europe bars
incongruous American names, such as The Bronx and Badlands, while gay
organizations, retreating from their earlier radical stance, adopted
terminology and tactics.
THE AIDS CHALLENGE AND NEW REALITIES
The 1980s, with their conservative trend in most major
confronted the movement with new obstacles and challenges.
The spread of Acquired
Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the United States and
meant that ever larger resources of time and money had to go into
around the issues of research on the causes and cure of AIDS and the
of health care for victims of the syndrome.
The stigma that linked homosexuality with a contagious and
fatal condition was
exploited by sensation-mongering media eager to profit from public
and fear. The columns of the gay press began to print, week after week,
obituaries of those who had died of the consequences of AIDS, and new
organizations such as New York's Gay Men's Health Crisis and
ACT UP (AIDS
Coalition To Unleash Power) were formed to deal specifically
with this new
ACT UP was effectively formed in March
1987 at the Lesbian and Gay
Community Services Center on West 13th Street in New York City. Larry
was asked to speak as part of a rotating speaker series, and his
speech focused on action to fight AIDS. Kramer
spoke out against the Gay
Men's Health Crisis (GMHC),
which he perceived as politically
impotent. Ironically, Kramer had co-founded the GMHC
resigned from its board of directors in 1983. Kramer
posed a question to
the audience: "Do we want to start a new organization devoted to
action?" The answer was "a resounding yes." Approximately 300
people met two days later to form ACT UP.
ACT-UP emphasized direct action. The
following are a few examples. On
March 24, 1987, 250 ACT UP members demonstrated at
Wall Street and
Broadway to demand greater access to experimental AIDS drugs and for a
coordinated national policy to fight the disease. An Op/Ed article by Larry
Kramer published in the New York Times the previous day
described some of
the issues ACT UP was concerned with. Seventeen ACT
were arrested during this civil disobedience event. On March 24, 1988, ACT
UP returned to Wall Street for a larger demonstration in
which over 100
people were arrested.
On September 14, 1989, seven ACT UP
members infiltrated the New York Stock
Exchange and chained themselves to the VIP balcony to protest the high
the only approved AIDS drug, AZT. The group displayed a banner that
WELLCOME” referring to the pharmaceutical sponsor of AZT,
which had set a price of approximately $10,000 per patient per year for
drug, well out of reach of nearly all HIV positive persons. Several
following this demonstration, Burroughs Wellcome lowered the price of
$6,400 per patient per year.
ACT UP held their next action at the New
York City General Post Office
on the night of April 15, 1987, to a captive audience of people filing
minute tax returns. This event also marked the beginning of the
conflation of ACT
UP with the Silence = Death Project,
which created the famous poster
consisting of a right side up pink triangle (an upside-down pink
used to mark gays in Nazi concentration camps) on a black background
text "SILENCE = DEATH." Douglas Crimp, the ACT-UP
chronicler, speaks of the "media savvy" of ACT UP at this
demonstration, because the television media "routinely do stories about
down-to-the-wire tax return filers." As such, ACT UP
guaranteed media coverage.
In December 1989, approximately 4,500 protesters arrived at
Cathedral during Mass in a demonstration directed toward the Roman
Archdiocese's public stand against AIDS education and condom
well as its opposition to abortion. One-hundred and eleven protesters
In May 1990, ACT UP organized a large choreographed
demonstration at the
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Campus. According to Larry
Kramer, this was their best demonstration, but the media
ignored it because of a large fire in Washington, DC on the same day.
As such protests continued, ACT-UP
chapters sprang up in Boston, San
Francisco, Seattle and other cities. In Europe similar groups appeared.
success, though, came internal pressures and dissension. In recent
the changing nature of the AIDS crisis, ACT UP's membership
dwindled, though several chapters continue to meet.
Another response to the crisis was the AIDS
Memorial Quilt. The Quilt
was displayed first in Washington in 1987 and then in other major
providing a public symbol of grief. In many respects, the new activism
some similarities with that of the sixties, but it was accompanied by a
battle-scarred realism regarding means and ends.
In 1986 the gay rights movement suffered a great setback
when the U. S.
Supreme Court upheld Georgia's sodomy law in its Bowers
decision, dealing a bitter blow to hopes for legal reform.
Court not only found that the Constitution afforded no right to
homosexual activity in the privacy of one's bedroom, but dismissed
the contrary as "facetious," while freely quoting from the Bible to
deny equal protection under the law to gay men and lesbians.
Queer Nation arrived on the scene in the
summer of 1990, when militant
AIDS activists at New York's Gay Pride parade passed out to the
an inflammatory manifesto, printed on both sides of a single
piece of newsprint, bearing the titles "I Hate Straights!" and
"Queers Read This!" Within days, in response to the brash,
"in-your-face" tone of the broadside, Queer Nation
had sprung up in San Francisco and other major cities.
Described by activist scholars Allan
Bérubé and Jeffrey Escoffier
as the first "retro-future/postmodern" activist group to address gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgender concerns, the short-lived
a lasting impact on sexual identity politics in the United States. To a
significant degree, the relative frequency and acceptability of glbtq
in mass culture in the 1990s and early twenty-first century can be
dated to the
emergence of Queer Nation.
Queer Nation had no formal structure or
leadership and relied on large,
raucous, community-wide meetings to set the agendas and plan the
actions of its
numerous cleverly named committees and sub-groups (such as LABIA:
and Bisexuals in Action, and SHOP: Suburban
Homosexual Outreach Project).
Queer Nation's style drew on the urgency felt in the
community about the mounting epidemic and the paucity of meaningful
governmental response, and was inspired largely by the
direct-action tactics of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power
Rather than launching long-term campaigns to create social
Nation favored short-term, highly visible, media-oriented
actions, such as
same-sex kiss-ins at shopping malls. Their political philosophy was
summed up in the now-cliched slogan, "We're Here. We're Queer. Get Used
While many took up the new term queer, it eventually settled
academia, where the new field of Queer Studies
gained a foothold. Most
of the movement adopted the acronym LGBT (sometimes
enlarged to LGBTQ,
where the Q could stand either for queer or questioning). In both
forms, the T
for transgender people reflected a new visibility of those groups.
A NEW CENTURY DAWNS
The early 21st-century keynote was assimilation (however much
decried by radicals,
a dwindling band). The most prominent organization was Human
Fund, headquartered in Washington, DC. This group, well
funded though too conformist for the taste of some, was generally
the Democratic Party. The Log Cabin Republicans are
a much smaller
At all events, the new century opened auspiciously with the
federal ruling ever made in favor of GLBT rights: The
Court decision of Texas v. Lawrence,
which stunningly reversed
the unfortunate 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick.
that "Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct
today," the majority on the Court held that homosexuals are "entitled
to respect for their private lives. . . . The state cannot demean their
existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual
crime." This decision ended the sodomy laws in every state in the US,
successfully concluding the campaign of legal activists that had gone
Other developments have been less positive. The
wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan highlighted the plight of gay and lesbian personnel in the
military. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT)
common term for the policy restricting the United States military from
to discover or reveal closeted gay, lesbian, and bisexual service
applicants, while barring those who are openly gay, lesbian, or
military service. The restrictions are mandated by federal law Pub.L.
(10 U.S.C. § 654). Unless one of the exceptions from 10 U.S.C.
applies, the policy prohibits anyone who "demonstrate(s) a propensity
intent to engage in homosexual acts" from serving in the armed forces
the United States, because "it would create an unacceptable risk to the
high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion
the essence of military capability." The act prohibits any homosexual
bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from
about any homosexual relationships, including marriages or other
attributes, while serving in the United States armed forces.
As it exists, DADT specifies that the
"don't ask" part of the
policy stipulates that superiors should not initiate investigation of a
member's orientation in the absence of disallowed behaviors, though
and articulable evidence of homosexual behavior may trigger an
Violations of this aspect through persecutions and harassment of
servicemen and women resulted in the policy's current reformulation as
"don't ask, don't tell, don't harass, don't pursue."
In 2010 the US House of Representatives passed a bill that
would repeal the
relevant sections of the law, but this measure was stalled in the
In the autumn of 2010, a federal district court judge declared the
don't tell policy unconstitutional and issued an injunction prohibiting
Department of Defense from enforcing or complying with the policy.
appellate court stayed the injunction pending appeal; thus Don't Ask,
Tell remains in effect.
Same-sex marriage emerged in 2004 as one
of the hottest issues of the
campaign season. But in a severe blow to gay rights advocates, all
states that had the issue on the ballot passed amendments banning the
While the subject may have seemed to have dropped off the US media
soon reemerged, in part because during the ensuing years, the same-sex
movement gained a number of victories in foreign countries, including
Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway,
South Africa, and Sweden.
A serious setback in America was the 1996 passing of the Defense
Act with the support of the Clinton Administration. As of
2010, in the
United States same-sex couples can marry in five states and one
(Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,Vermont and the
Columbia). The married couples receive state-level benefits, but not
ones. The states of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Rhode Island do
have provisions for same-sex marriages, but do recognize same-sex
performed in other jurisdictions. Additionally, several states offer
unions or domestic partnerships, granting all or part of the
and responsibilities of marriage. Discouragingly, however, thirty-one
have constitutional restrictions limiting marriage to one woman and one
The battle rages on: court rulings and local legislatures have kept the
alive in the political sphere, and conservatives and gay rights
made the issue a key battlefield in the culture wars.
(this article incorporates material from the Encyclopedia
of Homosexuality, used with permission)
Limited to the United States movement, this list omits works
young-adult works, and some items judged redundant or ephemeral. Note
is not a general listing of gay and lesbian life in the period: only
are items that offer significant coverage of the movement for gay and
1. GENERAL HISTORIES, REFERENCE WORKS, AND
Brandt, Eric. Dangerous Liaisons : Blacks, Gays
Struggle for Equality. New York : New Press, 1999.
Clendinen, Dudley, and Adam Nagourney. Out for Good: The
Struggle to Build a
Gay Rights Movement in America. New York: Simon & Schuster,
Dynes, Wayne R., ed. Encyclopedia
Homosexuality. 2 vols. New York and London, Garland
Faderman, Lillian. Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History
of Lesbian Life in
Twentieth-Century America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.
Erwin J., A "Movement of Inverts" - An Early Plan for a Homosexual
in the US, in: Journal of Homosexuality, vol. 10, no. 1/2, reprinted
Homophobia: An Overview, J. P. De Cecco, ed., The Haworth Press, New
1985, pp. 127 - 134
Hunt, Richard J. Historical Dictionary of the
Gay Movement. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1999.
Johansson, Warren, and William A Percy. Outing: Shattering
the Conspiracy of
Silence. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 1994.
Kaiser, Charles. The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of
Gay Life in
America. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
Levin, Jim. Reflections on the American Homosexual Rights
Movement. New York:
Gay Academic Union, 1983. 67 [contains an "Afterword" by Wayne R.
Dynes, as well as Levin's essay-review of Jonathan Katz's Gay American
Loughery, John. The Other Side of Silence: Men's Lives and
Gay Identities: A
Twentieth-Century History. New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1998.
Marcus, Eric. Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for
Lesbian and Gay
Equal Rights. Rev. ed. New York: Perennial, 2002.
McGarry, Molly, and Fred Wasserman. Becoming Visible: An
Illustrated History of
Lesbian and Gay Life in Twentieth-Century America. New York: Penguin
Meeker, Martin. Contacts Desired: Gay and Lesbian
Communications and Community,
1940s-1970s. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Miller, Neil. Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from
1869 to the
Present. New York, Vintage Books, 1995.
Murray, Stephen O. American Gay. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1996.
Myers, JoAnn. Historical Dictionary of the Lesbian Liberation
the Rage. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2003.
Rimmerman, Craig. From Identity to Politics: The Lesbian and
Gay Movements in
the United States. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001.
Stein, Marc, ed. Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
in America. 3 vols. New York: Scribner, 2005.
Streitmatter, Rodger. Unspeakable: The Rise of the Gay and
Lesbian Press in
America. Boston: Faber, 1995.
Thompson, Mark. Long Road to Freedom: The Advocate History of
the Gay and
Lesbian Movement. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1994.
2. DOCUMENT COLLECTIONS
Bull, Chris, ed. Come Out Fighting: A Century
Essential Writing on Gay and Lesbian Liberation. New York : Thunder's
Press/Nation Books, 2001.
Bull, Chris, ed. Witness to Revolution: The Advocate Reports
on Gay and Lesbian
Politics, 1967-1999. Los Angeles, Calif. : Alyson Books, 1999.
Hay, Harry, with Will Roscoe, ed. Radically Gay: Gay
Liberation in the Words of
its Founder. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996.
Katz, Jonathan, ed. Gay American History. New York: Crowell,
Katz, Jonathan, ed. Gay/Lesbian Almanach: A New Documentary.
New York: Harper
and Row, 1983 [to 1950].
Kepner, Jim. Rough News, Daring Views: 1950s Pioneer Gay
Press Journalism. New
York: Haworth, 1997.
Ridinger, Robert B., ed. Speaking for Our Lives: Historic
Speeches and Rhetoric
for Gay and Lesbian Rights/1892-2000. New York: Routledge, 2005.
Samar, Vincent Joseph, ed. The New York Times Twentieth
Century in Review: The
Gay Rights Movement. London; Routledge, 2001. [reprints articles]
Teal, Donn. The Gay Militants. New York: Stein and Day, 1971.
documenting the first year of gay liberation, from June 1969 to June
Williams, Walter L., and Yolanda Retter, eds. Gay and Lesbian
Rights in the
United States: A Documentary History, Westport, Conn. : Greenwood
3. MEMOIRS, BIOGRAPHIES (INDIVIDUAL AND
COLLECTIVE), AND COLLECTED
Bell, Arthur. Dancing the Gay Lib Blues: A Year
Homosexual Liberation Movement. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971.
Brown, Howard. Familiar Faces Hidden Lives: The Story Of
Homosexual Men In
America Today. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1977.
Cain, Paul D. Leading the Parade: Conversations with
America's Most Influential
Lesbians and Gay Men. Lanham, Md : Scarecrow Press, 2002.
Campbell, J. Louis, III. Jack Nichols, Gay Pioneer: "Have You
Message?" New York: Haworth Press, 2006.
Clarke, Lige, and Jack Nichols. I Have More Fun with You Than
James Press, 1976.
Duberman, Martin B. Stonewall. New York: Plume, 1994. [group
biography of six
Gambone, Philip. Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ
Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010.
Hansen, Joseph. A Few Doors West of Hope : The Life and Times
of Dauntless Don
Slater. Los Angeles: Homosexual Information Center, 1998.
Jay, Karla. Tales of the Lavender Menace: A Memoir of
Liberation. New York:
Basic Books, 1999.
Nichols, Jack, The Tomcat Chronicles: Erotic Adventures of a
Pioneer. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Paul, Jay P.: San
Bisexual Center and the Emergence of a Bisexual Movement
Perry, Troy. The Lord is My Shepherd
and He knows I'm Gay: The autobiography of
the Rev. Troy D. Perry, as told to Charles L. Lucas. New York: Bantam,
Sears, James T. Behind the Mask of Mattachine: The Hal Call
Chronicles and the
Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation. New York; Harrington Park
Shilts, Randy. The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times
of Harvey Milk.
New York: St. Martin's Press, 1982.
Spring, Justin. Secret Historian: The Life and Times of
Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade. New York: Ferrar, Straus
Timmons, Stuart. The Trouble with Harry Hay: Founder of the
Movement. Boston : Alyson, 1990.
Tobin, Kay, and Randy Wicker. The Gay Crusaders. New York:
4. THE HOMOPHILE ERA (1950-1969)
Bullough, Vern L. Before Stonewall: Activists
for Gay and
Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. New York: Haworth Press, 2002.
Cutler, Marvin. (pseud, of W. Dorr Legg/William Lambert).
Homosexuals Today: A
Handbook of Organizations and Publications. Los Angeles: ONE, Inc.,
D'Emilio, John. Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The
Making of a Homosexual
Minority in the United States, 1940-1970. Chicago, The University of
Gallo, Marcia M. Different Daughters: A History of the
Daughters of Bilitis and
the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement. New York : Carroll &
Johnson, David. The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution
of Gays and
Lesbians in the Federal Government. Chicago: University of Chicago
Legg, W. Dorr, ed. Homophile Theory and Practice. Los
Angeles: ONE Institute
Press, 1994. [pioneering educational work of ONE Institute]
Masters, Robert E. L. The Homosexual Revolution: A
Challenging Expose of the
Social and Political Directions of a Minority Group. New York: Julian,
Onge, Jack. The Gay Liberation Movement. Chicago: Alliance
Sagarin, Edward (aka Donald Webster Cory). Structure and
Ideology in an
Association of Deviants. New York: Arno Press, 1975.
of Mattachine Society, NY; reprint of NYU doctoral dissertation]
Sweet, Roxana. Political and Social Action in Homophile
York: Arno Press, 1975. [reprint of her Ph.D. dissertation in
University of California, Berkeley]
5. STONEWALL AND ITS AFTERMATH
Altman, Dennis. Homosexual: Oppression and
New York: Outerbridge and Dienstfrey, 1971.
Avicolli Mecca, Tommi., ed. Smash the Church, Smash the
State!: The Early Years
of Gay Liberation. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2009. [chiefly
retrospective essays from forty years after]
Carter, David. Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay
Revolution. New York:
St. Martin's Press, 2004.
Eisenbach, David. Gay Power: An American Revolution. New
York: Carroll &
Jay, Karla, and Allen Young, eds. Out of the Closets; Voices
of Gay Liberation.
New York, Douglas/Links, distributed by Quick Fox, 1972.
Marotta, Toby. The Politics of Homosexuality: How Lesbians
and Gay Men Have
Made Themselves a Political and Social Force in Modern America. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1981.
Picano, Felice. Art and Sex in Greenwich Village: Gay
Literary Life after
Stonewall. New York : Carroll & Graf, 2007.
Richmond, Len, and Gary Noguera, eds. The Gay Liberation
Book. San Francisco:
Ramparts Press, 1973.
6. LATER HISTORY
Bawer, Bruce. A Place at the Table. New York:
Epstein, Steven. Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the
Politics of Knowledge.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
Frank, Nathaniel. Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines
the Military and
Weakens America. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2009.
Gould, Deborah B. Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP's Fight
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Murdoch, Joyce, and Deb Price. Courting Justice: Gay Men and
Lesbians v. the
Supreme Court. New York: Basic Books, 2001.
Rimmerman, Craig A. The Lesbian and Gay Movements:
Assimilation or Liberation?
Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2007.
Rimmerman, Craig A. The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage.
Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 2007.
Sullivan, Andrew. Virtually Normal: An Argument about
Homosexuality. New York:
Vaid, Urvashi. Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and
Liberation. New York; Anchor, 1996.
Warner, Michael, ed. Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics
and Social Theory.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.
Welzer-Lang, Daniel, Jean-Yves Le Talec, and Sylvie
Tomolillo. Un mouvement gai
dans la lutte contre le SIDA: les Soeurs de la Perpétuelle
Indulgence. Paris :
7. LOCALITIES AND REGIONS
Armstrong, Elizabeth. Forging Gay Identities:
Sexuality in San Francisco, 1950-1994. Chicago: University of Chicago
Atkins, Gary L. Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging.
Washington Press, 2003.
Baim, Tracy, ed. Out and Proud in Chicago. Chicago: Surrey
Boyd, Nan Alamilla. Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San
Francisco to 1965.
Berkley: University of California Press, 2003.
Faderman, Lillian, and Stuart Timmons. Gay L.A.: A History of
Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians. New York: Basic Books, 2006.
Fellows, Will, ed. Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural
University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.
History Project, The. Improper Bostonians: Lesbian and Gay
History from the
Puritans to Playland. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998.
Howard, John. Men Like That: A Southern Queer History,
Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1999.
Hurewitz, Daniel. Bohemian Los Angeles and the Making of
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.
Kennedy, Elizabeth Lapofsky, and Madeleine D. Davis, Boots of
of Gold: The History of the Lesbian Community. New York: Routledge,
Newton, Esther. Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in
America's First Gay
and Lesbian Town. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.
Nickels, Thom. Gay and Lesbian Philadelphia. Charleston, SC:
Sears, James T. Growing Up Gay in the South: Race, Gender,
and Journeys of the
Spirit. New York; Harrington Park Press, 1991.
Stein, Marc. City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian
Philadelphia, 1945-1972. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Striker, Susan, and Jim Van Buskirk. Gay by the Bay: A
History of Queer Culture
in the San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1996.
Wallace, David. A City Comes Out: The Gay and Lesbian History
of Palm Springs.
Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, 2008.
White, C. Todd. Pre-Gay LA: A Social History of the Movement
for Homosexual Rights.
Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009.
In addition to the above references, one may consult a number of
Wikipedia, starting with en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_movements_in_the_United_States
Achieving bibliographical control of the vast body of writings on
is a challenging, sometimes vexatious task. Yet it is not
While the middle and later years of the nineteenth century
saw a number of
important bibliographies of erotica they were not specifically geared
study of same-sex love. For that one one is again indebted to
homosexual emancipation movement appearing in Berlin in 1897. This
firmly held that progress toward homosexual rights must go hand in hand
intellectual enlightenment. Accordingly, each year's production was
the annual volumes of the Jahrbuch fürsexuelle
(1899-1923); by the end of the first ten years of monitoring over 1000
titles had been recorded. Although surveys were made of earlier
to the time of the extinction of the movement by National Socialism in
attempt had been made to organize this material into a single
bibliography of homosexual studies.
It is still worthwhile to comb the classic German works of
the pre-Nazi period
for bibliographical nuggets that have escaped attention.
Still, it is
regrettable that this foundational era in homosexual scholarship
single comprehensive bibliography of the subject.
For that one must await the participation of the United
State, whose gay-rights
movement only emerged with the Mattachine Society in 1950-51.
context of the Cold War and the McCarthyite frenzy, efforts at
diffusing better knowledge were at first very difficult and
some dedicated individuals kept going all the same. An early
the period was the little Gay Girl's Guide
(New York,1949 with two
subsequent editions; despite the title, this mimeographed item was
gay men). Somewhat bizarrely, the principal author was
identified as one
Swarsarnt Nerf (probably a pseudonym of Edgar Leoni). At the
booklet offers ten pages of book listings, fiction and nonfiction.
As a rule, respectable publishers avoided the topic of
for judgmental works by psychiatrists and other medical
partial exception was Donald Webster Cory's The
Homosexual in America
(New York, 1951), well-written and edited, though issued by
somewhat marginal publisher. In addition to a lucid, though
text, this volumed offered appendices with lists of both non-fiction
fiction on the subject.
After the Stonewall Rebellion in June of 1969, things began
In 1971 or '72 Jack Stafford, a librarian based in
Queens, NY, began an
effort, supported by a committee of the American Library Association
a comprehensive bibliography of homosexuality, which would emphasize
positive aspects. When Jack died unexpectedly in 1973, Barbara
Gittings took charge of the manuscript on behalf of the
their approval, she utilized the material to create a 16-page leaflet
highlights, called A Gay Bibliography. Distributed
for free to libraries and other interested parties, this selection
enhanced readership, and eventually publishing prospects as well.
By contrast, the compilation of Martin S. Weinberg
and Alan P. Bell,
Homosexuality: An Annotated Bibliography (New York,
represents a step backwards. This bulky work, compiled under
of the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University, provides detailed but
abstracts for 1,263 books, pamphlets, and articles published in the
language from 1940 to 1968. The book stresses psychiatric, medical, and
social-science contributions, many harshly negative, It is
now mainly of
interest to those seeking to reconstruct the repressive atmosphere of
middle years of the twentieth century.
In this context, it was clear that a real effort must be made
by the nascent
gay organizations themselves. To ONE, Inc.
of Los Angeles belongs
the honor of addressing this task on an appropriate
many delays, the ONE efforts yielded the most
attempted up to that point: Vern Bullough et al., Annotated
Bibliography of Homosexuality (New York, 1976), which was
prepared in the
Los Angeles offices of ONE, Inc. This work provides
about 13,000 entries
arranged in twenty broad subject categories. Some notion of the
the whole subject is conveyed by the fact that, even at that date, the
of entries could probably have been doubled. Unlike most of
American bibliographies, this work is international and multilingual in
unfortunately the two-volume set is marred by thousands of small errors
lacunae, especially in foreign-language items. The title
annotations are very sparse, and uncertain in their critical stance.
subject indexes, which would have served to offset some of these
are lacking; instead each volume has its own author indexes. The
of this major work, undertaken largely by volunteer staff working under
movement auspices, illustrate the problems that have, as often as not,
made inevitable by the social neglect and obloquy in which the subject
enveloped. To his credit, W. Dorr Legg, the project
that an altogether new work was needed, one that would remedy the
all-too-evident faults of the existing work. After
several years of
intense work, it was found that fundamental disagreements prevented the
from concluding the task, which had reached the letter N. The
materials for this unfinished project are now preserved in the ONE
archives at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
In San Francisco in the 1960s William Parker
began gathering material
for a one-person effort. His first attempt was Homosexuality:
Abstracts and Bibliography (San Francisco, 1966); this
publication, and a
number of other earlier lists, are now most easily accessible in the
omnibus: A Gay Bibliography: Eight Bibliographies on
Lesbianism and Male
Homosexuality (New York, 1975). Parker's
more substantial work is Homosexuality:
A Selected Bibliography of over 3,000 Items (Metuchen, NJ,
by two supplements (published in 1977 and 1985), which carry coverage
through 1982. These volumes arrange the material (English-language
types of publication; there are helpful subject indices. Although some
taken of films, television programs and audiovisual materials, the
print items is almost entirely restricted to nonfiction.
Parker's two supplements cover six- and
seven-year periods respectively,
but even as of 2010 there is no current annual bibliography of
homosexuality. For a time, the best means of of
production was through the "Relevant" section of the scholarly Dutch
bimonthly Homologie (Amsterdam, 1978-97 ), which
utilized the resources
of Homodok (Dokumentatiecentrum Homostudies),
founded in 1977 under the
auspices of the University of Amsterdam.
In San Francisco the lesbian monthly The Ladder,
published by the Daughters
of Bilitis organization, included notices of books from its
1956 (the full set was reissued with a new index in New York in 1975).
Eventually these notices were coordinated on a monthly basis by Gene
(Barbara Grier), whose later columns have been
recently collected in a
handy, indexed volume: Lesbiana: Book Reviews from the Ladder,
(Reno, 1976). Utilizing input from Marion Zimmer Bradley
and others, Damon
and Lee Stuart produced the first edition of The
Literature: A Bibliography (San Francisco, 1967). This work
appeared in an expanded, third edition: Barbara Grier, The
Literature (Tallahassee, 1981), with about 3100 items,
nonfiction. The entries are labeled with an ingenious coding system,
relevance and quality.
The complement to Grier in the male sphere is Ian
Young, The Male
Homosexual in Literature: A Bibliography (second
ed. Metuchen, NJ,
1982), with 4282 items, interpretive essays by several hands, and title
While there are no annotations, Young sweeps the field: fiction,
and autobiography. Like Grier, the volume is
restricted to works written
in English and translations of foreign works. Regrettably, no
have come forward to update these exemplary works by Grier and Young on
Apart from the general bibliographies just discussed, which
claim to cover at
least the whole-English language production in their chosen domains,
also a number of works defined by the country in which they appeared. William
Crawford (ed.J, Homosexuality in Canada: A
1984), contains a good deal of material, in French as well as English,
been overlooked elsewhere. Manfred
Verzeichnis des deutschsprachigen nicht belletristischen
Schrifttums zur weiblichen und männlichen
Homosexualität aus den Jahren 1466
bis 1975 in chronologischer Reihenfolge (Berlin, 1982) is an
compilation of some 3500 nonfiction items published in German up to
. For Italian-language material,
see the annotated listing by Giovanni Dall'Orto, Leggere
(Turin, 1984), a roster of publications from 1800 to 1983. Still
systematic treatment is the rich Italian material before 1800, though
this can be recovered from Dall'Orto's extenive
website, http://www.giovannidallorto.com. Claude Courouve's work on
French bibliography was
Almost from the beginning homosexual organizations have
created their own
periodicals to supplement the mainstream journals which tend to scant,
exclude altogether research on sexual variation. A detailed roster of
than 1924 publications existing (or believed to exist) in the 1980s is Robert
Malinowsky, International Directory of Gay and
(Phoenix, 1987). By definition, this work does not include older
had ceased (309 of these are listed in Bullough, et al.,
nor does it provide, for obvious reasons, a listing of the contents of
publications. Gay and lesbian journals are covered only sporadically in
bibliographies, and even copies of the less familiar newspapers are
find once they leave the stands; here the gay and lesbian archives are
essential job of preservation, since public and university
do not preserve these materials. In the early twenty-first century,
unfortunately, poor economic conditions caused the demise of a number
and lesbian periodicals.
A summation of bibliographical work appears in Wayne
R. Dynes, Homosexuality:
A Research Guide (New York, 1987):
http://www.sexarchive.info/BIB/ResGde/index.htm . In addition to the bibliography
sections proper, each of the
approximately 170 subject groups contains an introduction outlining the
strengths and problems of the topic in its current state of development
lack of development). This volume is conceived as interdisciplinary,
cross-cultural, and transhistorical, and may be consulted for a sense
complexity of the overarching field. Unfortunately, an
has proved unfeasible due to the flood of new publications.
More specialized, but quite thorough is Linda Garber, Lesbian
Sources: A Bibliography of Periodical Articles, 1970-1990 (New York,
1993). Like Dynes, this list is organized in terms of
categories, from "Abortion" to "Youth." However,
Garber does not provide annotations.
nor Garber were prepared to attempt a sequel to their vast
works. The reason was this. By the early 'nineties
it was clear that the proliferation of material was outrunning the
feasibility of efforts to monitor it. Here the Internet
seemed to offer an ideal solution, but unfortunately it was not as
effective as one would have thought. The advantages of publishing
bibliographies in this format are obvious: economy, since no publisher
of the traditional kind would be required and no one need pay to
consult the compilation; ease of access; and flexibility, since the
editor(s) could keep constantly adding new items as they appeared.
Yet things did not quite work out as expected. The
illustrated by the fate of a truly remarkable effort conducted by the
Englishman Paul Halsall while he was a graduate
student at Fordham
University in New York. Working selflessly and with almost
energy, during the 1990s Halsall created “People
with a History” (PWH) (www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/). This a major annotated bibliography covering
and trans people for all historical periods and areas,
non-Western ones. Fully annotated, the site contains links to
created by Halsall. While PWH
can be used as a supplement
and continuation of Dynes, Homosexuality:
A Research Guide (see
above), the site also notices earlier works. Unfortunately,
to stop work in 1998 in order to complete his dissertation.
He has since
returned to England, where he has moved on to other tasks.
Working at the same time as Halsall, Gary Simes
of Sydney Australia,
created the last printed bibliography of the subject that is
scope. This is Simes, Bibliography
(Sydney: University of Sydney Library & The Australian Centre
and Gay Research, 1998), based on the holdings of the University of
Library. This listing of 6129 items is selectively
different approach appears in the massive volume edited by Timothy
the Reader's Guide to Gay and Lesbian Studies
(Chicago, 2000). The
Guide consists of some 430 essays, from
“Academicians” to “World War II,
Cultural Effects of.” Each entry begins with a
short list of
publications; these are mostly books and items written in the English
language--two serious limitations. While a few of the essays
are thoughtful, even penetrating, many are lackluster, having
compiled by graduate students. A stronger hand by the overall
would have been helpful.
Returning to Internet resources, probably the best way for
the tyro scholar to
begin is to turn to the lists maintained by the London-based scholar Rictor
Norton at his site: http://rictornorton.co.uk. One may also consult online the
collective work known as GLBTQ,
which bills itself as “the world's largest encyclopedia of
transgender, and queer culture” (www.glbtq.com). The articles are generally clear
and reliable, though
coverage is limited to literature, the arts, and the social sciences,
inclusion of numerous relevant biographies For the older,
however, the attached bibliographies tend not to be
relevant Wikipedia entries contain bibliographies, Finally,
consult the listings in the CD-ROM of Paul Knobel of Sydney,
Australia. His Encyclopedia of Male Homosexual
Poetry and its
Reception History (2002) covers poetry with 6,300 entries.
Online one can also browse two large
and continuously updated repertoires that
stem from the library world. The first, Harvard
Classical is relatively concise, with somewhat under 5000
when one types in the key word
“homosexualty.” One may also
the vast list of the holdings of the Library of Congress
Finally, one can proceed to a truly enormous compilation, that of Worldcat
(www.worldcat.org). Among its 1.2 billion items are
more than 50,000
entries relevant to our subject, including books, periodicals and
articles, dissertations, CD-ROMS and other electronic
enormous profusion of periodical articles, of varying quality, poses a
problem of bibliographical control. Worldcat presents these
(e.g. the Journal of Homosexuality), but seems to be constantly
Using the resources of Worlcat, Paul Knobel
created an invaluable Bibliography
Homosexuality: The Non-English Sources, comprising
an astonishing 4600
entries from 39 non-English languages. Consulting this
landmark work will
do much to correct the Anglophone exclusivity that limits scholarship
(Knobel's work may be viewed at http://www.sexarchive.info/BIB/knobelneng.htm.)