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

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Simon & Schuster, 1999 - Social Science - 716 pages
This is the definitive account of the last great struggle for equal rights in the twentieth century. From the birth of the modern gay rights movement at the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969, through 1988, when the gay rights movement was eclipsed by the more urgent demands of AIDS activists, this is the remarkable and until now untold story of how a largely invisible population of men and women banded together to create their place in America's culture and government. Told through the voices of gay activists and their opponents, filled with dozens of colorful characters, "Out for Good" traces the emergence of gay rights movements in cities across the country and their transformation into a national force that changed the face of America forever.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews, archival research and reporting in key cities -- New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., among them -- Dudley Clendinen and Adam Nagourney reveal the political tensions and emotional conflicts that at times tore the movement apart.

There are epic plots and battle scenes between gay activists, the Democratic and Republican politicians they sought to move and the opposing forces of the religious right. But there are also surprising struggles between radicals and moderates within the movement, between gay men and lesbians, between lesbians and feminists and between gay activists and AIDS activists. This was, in important ways, a movement without precedent, and the authors describe how it struggled to find leaders and a voice, and eventually succeeded in organizing to affect the outcome of elections throughout the country.

"Out for Good" contains vivid portraits of dozens of unheralded figures who founded and shaped the movement, often at great personal risk: Franklin Kameny, the Harvard astronomer fired from his government job who first sued for homosexual rights and ran for Congress from Washington; Martha Shelley, who shouted the gay rights movement into shape in New York; Rev. Troy Perry, who founded the first gay church in Los Angeles; David Goodstein, the autocratic millionaire who bought a gay newspaper to try to put his stamp on the movement; Virginia Apuzzo, the ex-nun who battled at two Democratic National Conventions to get homosexual rights included in the party platform; Del Martin, whose public repudiation of gay male sexism captured the early depths of the difficulties between lesbians and gay men; Ivy Bottini, who was expelled from leadership in the women's movement after her lesbianism became known; Arthur Evans, the philosophy graduate student who drew on the United States Constitution in writing a constitution for the first mainstream gay rights movement founded in New York after Stonewall; and Steve Endean, who built a gay rights movement in Minneapolis and then in the nation's capital before losing a fight for leadership, then his life to AIDS.

Like "Parting the Waters," Taylor Branch's monumental history of the birth of the civil rights movement, "Out for Good" is the unforgettable chronicle of an important -- and nearly lost -- chapter in American history.

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OUT FOR GOOD: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America

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Embedded within this heavily detailed chronicle of the American gay rights movement(s) between 1969 and 1992 are openings of bright clarity onto the complex, sometimes self-divided evolution of gay ... Read full review

Out for good: the struggle to build a gay rights movement in America

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Two New York Times reporters on the struggle for equal rights. Read full review


An Invisible People
A Fight at a Bar

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About the author (1999)

Dudley Clendinen is an editorial writer for The New York Times. He is the editor of a book of essays, The Prevailing South, and the author of the text of a book of photographs, Homeless in America. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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