Queer America: A GLBT History of the 20th Century

Queer America: A GLBT History of the 20th Century

Queer America: A GLBT History of the 20th Century

Queer America: A GLBT History of the 20th Century


Perhaps no topic today is politically more divisive than homosexuality, particularly when it is coupled with the deeply rooted concept of civil rights. This work focuses on 20th/21st- century U. S. history as it pertains to GLBT history. Major issues and events such as the Stonewall riot, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military, same-sex marriage, gay rights, gay pride, organizations and alliances, AIDS, and legal battles and court cases are discussed. Also included are sidebars highlighting major debates, legal landmarks and key individuals. A timeline and further reading sections concluding each chapter as well as a full bibliography and black and white images enhance the text.


There are many ways to tell the story of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgen-dered) Americans. For some, it is an account of progress—of coming out and coming into the nation’s history as important if not always valued participants. Others expect, or tell, a tale of persecution and victimization, relieved only by the heroism of those who endured and the courage of those who tried to change society’s views and laws. To others yet it is a list of famous people, already in the histories but not as GLBT peo-ple. These versions are neither completely valid nor completely bogus, and in fact com-plement each other. The history here includes these elements but seeks to be more textured; neither progressive nor regressive, it is the story of GLBT people and the con-ditions in which they lived during the last century. It is as much a survey of U.S. history since 1900 as those taught in every U.S. school and college, though through different eyes at times.



Limiting this volume to the 20th century conveniently allows it to bypass some of the stickier problems explained in Chapter 1. While issues of sexual identity before 1900 are fairly complex and often hotly contested, there is general agreement among scholars regarding a discernible “timeline” beginning around the turn of the 20th cen-tury. At that time the United States was witnessing the medicalization of sexuality and the more common use of the homosexual/heterosexual binary to classify people, phenomena that serve as constants in this history for the entire century. Hopefully, what is lost in treating only the 20th-century United States is gained in attempting to balance breadth, depth, clarity, and brevity in a single volume work.

The main theme of this book is that of change within the continuity provided by a heterosexual/homosexual divide. At the same time, we shall see that some of this his-tory and its people cannot be so easily categorized. Additional themes are those of class, race, ethnicity, and gender as they not only intersect with this history but are . . .

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