Handbook of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Administration and Policy

By Wallace Swan | Go to book overview

Introduction

The purpose of this handbook is to provide public administrators, including professionals, academicians, and students, with the most current information on the impact of the revolution in gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender public administration and policy that is occurring throughout many parts of the world. Those who work in the field of public administration need to understand the ways in which a different culture is changing the programs, the attitudes, and the lives of many people in our society. They also need to see the way in which programs can be tailored to our changing society.

I grew up during the Eisenhower years, in small towns in Washington state and Idaho, where there seemed to be no “gay” people. In fact, my introduction to the concept of “gay” people was a magazine photo of a group of homosexual men, backs to the camera, dressed in black suits. This was a portrait of the “Mattachine society” meeting in San Francisco, one of the early groups that supported the rights of “gay” people. The faces were hidden from view, since the men could lose their jobs or be imprisoned or placed in mental institutions. The message was clear to a young gay man at that time: Be open about who you are and you will lose everything. Watching the McCarthy hearings, when the senator threatened to reveal the names of homosexuals in government agencies, was indeed a revelation. So it was important to me to hide, not share my feelings with anyone else, and get married. In the 1960s, I witnessed the experience of President Johnson's aide Walter Jenkins and decided that I should never play a prominent role in politics as a result of his exposure as a homosexual. Even though our country and parts of the world have changed dramatically in the 50 years since, not everything has changed worldwide. While young American people “come

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