In the vein of Taylor Branch’s classic Parting of the Waters, Supreme Court lawyer and political pundit Linda Hirshman delivers the enthralling, groundbreaking story of the gay rights movement, revealing how a dedicated and resourceful minority changed America forever.
When the modern struggle for gay rights erupted in the summer of 1969, forty-nine states outlawed sex between people of the same gender. Four decades later, in 2011, New York legalized gay marriage and the armed services stopped enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Successful social movements are always extraordinary, but these advances seem like something of a miracle.
Linda Hirshman recounts the long roads that led to these victories, detailing the remarkable and revolutionary story of the movement that has blurred rigid gender lines, altered the shared culture, and broadened our definitions of family. Written in vivid prose, at once emotional and erudite, Victory is an utterly vibrant work of reportage and eyewitness accounts and demonstrates how, in a matter of decades, a focused group of activists forged a classic campaign for cultural change that will serve as a model for all future political movements.
“Remarkable for its emotional punch as for its historical insight.”—New York Times Book Review
This exuberant history of arguably the final and most difficult civil rights struggle relates, in surprisingly upbeat fashion, the fight "to slowly bend the arc of history toward justice" for gay men and women. The narrative begins in 1920 with gay migration to the cities, and the communities that developed the "culture of socially acceptable criminality" of Prohibition and speakeasies gave homosexuals "a sort of respectability by association." It continues with the transformation of the "homophile" Mattachine Society from Communist revolutionaries to attempts at conformity and the founding of the lesbian Daughters of Bilitis; the Stonewall uprising and the sexually liberated '60s; the AIDS crisis and ACT UP; and the ongoing fight for military and marriage equality, each accompanied by incremental legal advances and its own backlash: the end of Prohibition, McCarthy and HUAC, the rise of Christian fundamentalism. Those who lived through some or all of these events may think that political columnist Hirshman's (Hard Bargains: The Politics of Sex) enthusiasm minimizes the pain of past experience, and lesbians may feel relegated to a secondary presence, but the author's portrayal of this transformation of the meaning of "the core concepts of citizenship morality, sanity, loyalty" and how "as this most marginalized group of Americans fought for full inclusion in the social order, they didn't only change their world; they changed everyone's world" is undeniably inspiring.