Gay America: Struggle for Equality

Overview

Milestones of gay and lesbian life in the United States are brought together in the first-ever nonfiction book published specifically for teens.

Profusely illustrated with archival images, the groundbreaking Gay America reveals how gay men and women have lived, worked, and loved for the past 125 years. Gays and lesbians play a very prominent role in American life today, whether grabbing headlines over political gains, starring in and being the subject of movies and television ...

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Overview

Milestones of gay and lesbian life in the United States are brought together in the first-ever nonfiction book published specifically for teens.

Profusely illustrated with archival images, the groundbreaking Gay America reveals how gay men and women have lived, worked, and loved for the past 125 years. Gays and lesbians play a very prominent role in American life today, whether grabbing headlines over political gains, starring in and being the subject of movies and television shows, or filling the streets of nearly every major city each year to celebrate Gay Pride. However, this was not always the case, and this book charts their journey along with the history of the country.

First touching on colonial times, the book moves on to the Victorian period and beyond, including such historical milestones as the Roaring ’20s, the Kinsey study, the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s, the Beat generation, Stonewall, disco, AIDS, and present-day battles over gay marriage. Providing a sense of hope mixed with pride, author Linas Alsenas demonstrates how, within one century, gay women and men have gone from being socially invisible to becoming a political force to be reckoned with and proud members of the American public living openly and honestly. The book includes a bibliography and an index.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Della A. Yannuzzi
Here, the author has written a book packed with information about a sensitive subject. Linas Alsenas gives a historical perspective of gay America, covering the period from the late 1800s through the year 2000 and beyond. He also mentions several well-known people who were gay. One example is the playwright Oscar Wilde. Although he was a married man and a father, he had intimate relationships with men. Another is Jane Addams. A social reformer, she was attracted to women and claimed to have romantic friendships. The author points out that many gay people have played prominent roles in American life. In the 1940s, Dr. Alfred Kinsey conducted a study of the sexual practices of men and women. He concluded that "[p]ersons with homosexual histories are to be found in every age group, in every social level, in every conceivable occupation, in cities and on farms, and in the most remote areas of the country." Alsenas also deals with activism and how the fight for equality was made more difficult by the AIDS epidemic. In the 1980s, the history of gays and lesbians became entwined with the history of AIDS. Finally, Alsenas writes about the growing determination by the gay community to gain rights and freedoms that all Americans deserve regardless of sexual preference. One of the biggest struggles for gay equal rights was the right for same-sex partners to marry. The author notes that "[forty-four states have passed ‘Defense of Marriage' laws, and twenty states have written same -sex marriage bans into their constitutions." Yet he concludes that "[w]ithin one century, homosexuals have gone from being considered depraved sinners, criminals, and sick degenerates to being a political force to bereckoned with, visible leaders in a number of spheres, and proud members of the American public living openly and honestly." Black and white and color photographs are included. Back material includes chapter notes, a bibliography, illustration credits, and an index. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi
School Library Journal

Gr 7-10- This eminently readable work highlights the history of gays and lesbians in the U.S. Beginning with the Victorian period and following with five more chapters covering the 20th and 21st centuries through 2006, Alsenas prefaces each historically accurate section with a true story told from a personalized (or fictionalized) point of view, such as the notorious 1892 Memphis murder of Freda Ward by her lover, Alice Mitchell. This technique, combined with abundant archival photos and the author's accessible writing style, makes the pages fly by almost as if reading a long, compelling story. Of course, this book only touches on salient points of LGBT history, but for young teens who are interested in learning about queer scholarship, it is an excellent place to begin. A good index, excellent notes, and a selected bibliography of resources, into which the author encourages readers to "dig deeper," only increase the usefulness of Gay America .-Betty S. Evans, Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield

Kirkus Reviews
From the murder of Freda Ward in 1893 by her teenage girlfriend to same-sex marriage legalization in Massachusetts, this offering chronicles the ups, downs, victories and woes of gays and lesbians in the United States without sounding too much like a textbook. The stories unfold in brief, just-the-facts snapshots that are easy to follow, yet Alsenas's language is sophisticated enough to be authoritative. All of the usual topics are covered, including Stonewall, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Alfred Kinsey, James Baldwin and AIDS. Less well-known events and ideas, such as the formation of the Mattachine Society, a group formed by three gay Communist Party supporters in the late 1940s, also come to light. Black-and-white or full-color photos that accompany the text add to the overall appeal and readability of the book. What results is a well-written, topical and eye-catching work that simultaneously fulfills the need for assignments and literary nonfiction pleasure-reading forays. Middle- and high-school students should walk away feeling informed; many will be inspired to explore the LGBT universe even further. (Nonfiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810994874
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 983,660
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 1340L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Linas Alsenas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, studied art history at Harvard University, where he was introduced to queer studies. After graduation, he worked for a year as an editor at a design magazine before embarking on his career in book publishing, in which he worked on The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to Present, by award-winning playwright Tony Kushner, and Male Desire: The Homoerotic in American Art, by noted art historian Jonathan Weinberg, and many children’s books. Linas is a US citizen who lives with his partner in Stockholm, Sweden.

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