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The Politics of Homosexuality

by Toby Marotta

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A well written look at the complexities of the early homophile and liberation movement. Marotta describes the conflicting desires and messages of organizations and their leaders. The book documents the effort to educate homosexuals and transform society. While I recommend reading the entire work, Part III "The Lesbian Feminist Movement" provides an insightful look into the movement; it also succinctly illustrates many of the internal challenges of current LGBTQ organizations. ( )
  MichaelC.Oliveira | Feb 23, 2014 |
This book is a brilliant, if dense, analysis of the political and cultural themes that run through the various incarnations of the homosexual rights struggle from the beginnings of the homophile movement in the 1950s to the period at the end of the 70s just before AIDS. Marotta identifies trends and political/cultural biases and views that wove together to create the modern gay and lesbian movement and that, simultaneously, clashed in various ways that kept undoing that movement. E.g., political reformers joined with cultural radical hippies in the aftermath of Stonewall to gain strength, numbers and visibility, yet the goals of the two groups were fundamentally inconsistent: the politicos worked for respectability that would change laws, the hippies transgressed that respectability for the sake of "raising consciousness" and bringing on "the Revolution"; the result was a series of gay community organizations vying with one another for attention. Marotta's analysis is insightful and explanatory.

This book was based on Toby Marotta's Harvard dissertation. I am proud to have worked as Toby's writing assistant in transforming the academic exposition into readable prose.

This book was--unfortunately for all kinds of reasons--overshadowed by the arrival of AIDS. Actually Marotta's political/cultural themes showed up in AIDS organizing as well (of course!), but the history had changed forever. The Politics of Homosexuality does present the context in which all activism since has transpired. It ought to be required reading for activists even in such later political struggles as same sex marriage and gays in the military. The same trends and biases and utopian goals reappear. ( )
  tobyjohnso | May 25, 2011 |
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When the history of twentieth-century America is written, the 1970s will be recorded as the decade in which gay life won legitimacy. page ix
Before the challenging critiques of the 1960s there was widespread belief that America was a place where people of all kinds could live peacefully side by side. page 3
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What liberationists of every type basically set out to do was to persuade people that expressing themselves as they wished and respecting others who did the same was the only ethical way to live. They successfully demonstrated that it was possible for individulas to express their feelings openly without losing the respect of everyone around them. page 329
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