Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context

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Explore the early history of the gay rights movement!

In the words of editor Vern L. Bullough: “Although there was no single leader in the gay and lesbian community who achieved the fame and reputation of Martin Luther King, there were a large number of activists who put their careers and reputations on the line. It was a motley crew of radicals and reformers, drawn together by the cause in spite of personality and philosophical differences. Their stories are told in the following pages.”

Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context illuminates the lives of the courageous individuals involved in the early struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights in the United States. Authored by those who knew them (often activists themselves), the concise biographies in this volume examine the lives of pre-1969 barrier breakers like Harry Hay, Henry Gerber, Alfred Kinsey, Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, Jim Kepner, Jack Nichols, Christine Jorgensen, Jose Sarria, Barbara Grier, Frank Kameny, and 40 more.

To anyone with an interest in the history of the gay/lesbian rights movements in the United States, these names will be familiar, but did you know that in addition to their groundbreaking activism:

  • Prescott Townsend was a Boston Brahman
  • Dorr Legg was a Log Cabin Republican
  • Harry Hay was at one time a member of the Communist party
  • Jim Kepner was a boy preacher
  • Troy Perry was removed from the ministry of his church for homosexuality--and then founded the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church
  • Reed Erickson--a transsexual millionaire who gave millions to the cause--kept a pet leopard called Henry
  • Barbara Gittings set up a kissing booth at the American Library Association convention and urged attendees to kiss a gay or lesbian!
Before Stonewall is a perfect ancillary text for any gay/lesbian studies course, but more to the point, no one interested in these heroic figures and the movements they ignited should be without this book, which received an honorable mention in the 2004 Stonewall Book Awards.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City, which thrust the struggle for civil rights for homosexuals into the consciousness of North Americans, was so seminal an event that it is easy to forget that it did not occur in a vacuum. Editor Bullough (ed., Encyclopedia of Birth Control; coauthor, Sexual Attitudes) redresses this with a collection of 49 short biographies of activists, written by such authors as Felice Picano, James T. Sears, Wayne R. Dines, and Charley Shively. Included are not just gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals but such figures as Alfred Kinsey, Evelyn Hooker, and Bullough himself, who, although not themselves gay, worked to reduce the stigma attached to homosexuality. Most of the names, with such exceptions as Kinsey, Allen Ginsberg, Christine Jorgensen, and perhaps Franklin Kameny, are undeservedly obscure. A few of the biographies are uneven or awkwardly brief, but overall they admirably convey the passion and commitment of these men and women. This inspiring chronicle of risk takers and trendsetters (the book's original title) merits a place in all history, gay and lesbian studies, and human sexuality collections.-Richard J. Violette, Special Libs., Victoria, BC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560231929
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Series: Gay and Lesbian Studies
  • Pages: 458
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Table of Contents

  • About the Editor
  • Contributors
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Part I: Pre-1950
  • Alfred C. Kinsey (1894-1956)
  • Henry Gerber (1895-1972): Grandfather of the American Gay Movement
  • Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson (Xavier Mayne) (1868-1942)
  • Prescott Townsend (1894-1973): Bohemian Blueblood—A Different Kind of Pioneer
  • Jeannette Howard Foster (1895-1981)
  • Pearl M. Hart (1890-1975)
  • Lisa Ben (1921- )
  • Berry Berryman (1901-1972)
  • Part II: Organizational Activists
  • Harry Hay (1912 - )
  • Dale Jennings (1917-2000): ONE's Outspoken Advocate
  • W. Dorr Legg (1904-1994)
  • Don Slater (1923-1997)
  • Jim Schneider (1932- ): ONE's Guardian Angel
  • William Edward (Billy) Glover (1932- )
  • Jim Kepner (1923-1997)
  • Stella Rush a.k.a. Sten Russell (1925- )
  • Helen Sandoz a.k.a. Helen Sanders a.k.a. Ben Cat (1920-1987)
  • Herb Selwyn (1925- )
  • Hal Call (1917-2000): Mr. Mattachine
  • Del Martin (1921- )
  • Phyllis Lyon (1924- )
  • Billye Talmadge (1929- ): Some Kind of Courage
  • Cleo Glenn (Bonner) (Dates Unknown)
  • Pat Walker (1938-1999)
  • Bob Basker (1918-2001): Selling the Movement
  • Shirley Willer (1922-1999)
  • Part III: Movers and Shakers on the National Scene
  • Franklin E. Kameny (1925- )
  • Jack Nichols (1938- ): The Blue Fairy of the Gay Movement
  • Lige Clarke (1942-1975)
  • Barbara Gittings (1932- ): Independent Spirit
  • Barbara Grier (1933- ): Climbing the Ladder
  • Stephen Donaldson (Robert A. Martin): (1946-1996)
  • Randolfe Wicker (1938- )
  • Arthur Cyrus Warner (1918- )
  • Richard Inman (1926?- )
  • Part IV: Other Voices and Their Influence
  • Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997): On His Own Terms
  • Walter H. Breen (J. Z. Eglinton) (1928-1993)
  • Warren Johansson (1934-1994)
  • Donald Webster Cory (1913-1986)
  • Evelyn Gentry Hooker (1907-1996)
  • George Weinberg (1935- )
  • Vern L. Bullough (1928- ): Making the Pen Mightier Than the Sword
  • Christine Jorgensen (1926-1989)
  • Virginia Prince (1913- )
  • José Sarria (1923- )
  • Charlotte Coleman (1923- )
  • Reed Erickson (1917-1992): How One Transsexed Man Supported ONE
  • Troy Perry (1940- )
  • Morris Kight (1919- ): Community Activist
  • Index
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2005

    Anyone Interested in Gay History Can't Do Without This Book

    Vern¿s introduction credited me with suggesting that he replace Wayne Dynes, after Dynes resigned, as the editor of Before Stonewall. I¿m that happy that John De Cecco, the editor at Haworth, accepted my suggestion. John, who has edited the Journal of Homosexuality and a number of other Haworth Journal and series, is beyond question the most important gay editor since Magnus Hirschhfeld. He has made the Journal the place of record for gay studies, and Vern Bullough, with over fifty books to his credit is also the leading living historian of sex. Both of those scholars have braved the slings and arrows of the religious right, the child abuse industry, and others suffering from sexual panic. They did a splendid job on this much needed work, which contradicts the present- minded, now the vast majority of the gay rights movement, who maintain that nothing significant happened before Stonewall. I believe that someone should do a sequel ¿ a book that would devote chapters to the most significant scholars and activists in the next generation, that is to those who took the lead after 1969, until the date when AIDS became significant enough to end Gay Liberation and sexual laissez-faire, which had dominated our movement after Stonewall. The terminal date of such a book should be during the early 1980¿s ¿ I¿m not sure which year. What was first dubbed GRID ¿ Gay Related Immunity Deficiency ¿ in 1979 or 80, became Karposi syndrome before it became AIDS.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2002

    Book on pioneers of homosexual civil rights movement also gives history of the movement

    Before Stonewall is a book of biographies of men and women who worked in the civil rights movement for homosexual citizens. By reading the biographies, and the short introduction to each era, you also get a history of this movement that is found no where else in print. It covers the start in Southern California. And it helps to read most or all of the biographies/chapters as most relate to someone or events covered in another chapter.

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