Reviewing ‘The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle’

Reviewing ‘The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle’

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GAY REVOLUTION COVER PHOTOBy Robin Tyler

How do I begin to even describe what I and everyone else who has read and reviewed The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle thinks is the most well written, researched, epic historical book about our movement?

First of all, I want to confess.  I am in this book. So is my wife. But were we not in this book, I would still regard it as the greatest literary achievement chronicling our struggle for equal rights, human rights, liberation, and finally, civil rights. Most of us know (and if you don’t, you should, so Google her) about Lillian Faderman. She is a Lambda Literary and Stonewall Book Award-winning author, scholar, and retired college professor.  (She is also married to Phyllis Irwin, and they are mothers and grandmothers).

In The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, Faderman covers everything from the early witch hunts of homosexuals and the first attempts to fight back to  Stonewall to Anita Bryant to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to the marriage equality movement. But what makes Faderman’s book so compelling is that she did over 150 interviews, not just of the famous activists, but every day LGBT people who were harmed by the hatred against us. She depicts the rise and fall of the early gay rights groups, compelling stories that have not been told very much, but deserved to be.

She gets it right about Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, who deserve being credited with what they called each other: “The mother and father of the gay rights movement.” The book is a page turner, very difficult to put down.  But I am just one activist saying that this is a brilliant must read book.  Why believe just me? So, here are some quotes.

“Faderman has crafted an epic yet remarkably intimate work that belongs among the most definitive civil rights titles, LGBT specific or otherwise. This book is destined to be one of the lasting contributions to the literature of the gay rights movement.” – Chris Keech, Booklist

“The Gay Revolution fills a yawning gap in history literature, providing readers for the first time with a history of the entire LGBT civil rights movement, from its inception in 1950 up through the current day.  Anyone who reads Faderman’s passionate narrative will recognize it as a story that ennobles the human spirit and upholds the democratic ideals at the heart of this country’s founding documents.”-David Carter, author of Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution

The Gay Revoluion documents the momentous effort to decriminalize homosexuality and humanize homosexuals. “- Colonel (ret) Margarethe Cammermeyer, highest ranking officer to challenge the military’s anti-gay policy.

Lillian Faderman
Lillian Faderman

“Lillian Faderman has delivered the comprehensive account of one of the most extraordinary social movements in modern history. As gay people approach equality under the law, Faderman charts the course that brought such remarkable changes so swiftly. It is a dynamic book that matches the power of the movement it describes.”  Cleve Jones, founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt

“The Gay Revolution is the definite history of the gay rights movement in America.  This book will play with your emotions as Lillian Faderman takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of the victories and sacrifices made by the LGBT community and its allies to arrive at this point in time. This is the story of civil rights for the 21st century!” – Reverend Troy D Perry, Founder of LGBT  Metropolitan Community Church

“The Gay Revolution will be the standard by which all subsequent histories are measured. The fact that it is written in clear English is in itself a cause for celebration.”  – Rita Mae Brown, author and lesbian activist.

I have left out glowing remarks by Evan Wolfson, (pioneer marriage activist and founder of Freedom to Marry and other fantastic reviews.

What is so astounding about all of the reviews (and I will let you in on a well-known secret) is many activists (dare I say most) have fought with each other over the decades.

So, what finally brought so many of us to agree on one thing? It was Lillian Faderman’s book The Gay Revolution, The Story of the Struggle.  This book should be taught in every civil rights class in every high school and on every campus. And everyone, all of you, should buy it and read it. I won’t ask you to do it for us, the old ones who gave so much for so many decades (although, I want to ask, but I don’t need to guilt you). I will ask you to do it because this is the most honest and compelling history of our movement, and if you participated, you will love remembering, and if you did not, it will inspire you to passionately rise up and get involved.

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