Making Trouble: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and the University


First Published in 1992. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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Making Trouble: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and the University

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First Published in 1992. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
D'Emilio authored one of the pioneering studies of the birth of the gay movement, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities. In this collection, he expands on that work, with forays into gay historiography, the rise of gay and lesbian studies in the university and further explorations of the history of gay and lesbian activism in the U.S. One of the author's greatest strengths is his ability to relate the personal to the political, using an illuminating detail from his own life where applicable to make a larger historical point. Thus, his own early sexual experiences in Times Square come into play in an incisive essay on Women Against Pornography, and the introduction recalls movingly his trajectory from working-class white ethnic kid to gay activist and scholar. Because it is a collection of essays, papers and speeches drawn from a fairly narrow period of time, the book is occasionally repetitive. However, D'Emilio is an engaging writer and a superb historian. The final essay, one of the longest in the book, is a quick history of the movement with particular attention to post-Stonewall (1969) activism; one fervently hopes that it is a hint of what D'Emilio's next book project will be. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Gay historian, author, and activist D'Emilio has collected here 20 of his insightful personal and historical essays on the rise of gay scholarship in the United States. Topics range from the birth of a gay identity in post-World War II America to the crucial role that feminism played in turning the heretofore personal issues of gender and sex into social and political ones. He also scores a few more points in the continuing debate over homosexual behavior vs. gay identity. Positioning himself firmly on the radical side, D'Emilio advocates nothing less than a total reevaluation of our society's sexual paradigm. Although a single voice is heard in these essays, D'Emilio's call for gays and lesbians to move beyond minority status to one of freedom and choice, ``to embark on new journeys of sexual definition,'' may well be the rallying cry for renewed activism in the struggle for social justice. Highly recommended for academic libraries or larger public collections with informed lay readers.-- Jeffery Ingram, Newport P.L., Ore.
In 20 essays written over a period of almost 20 years, pioneering gay historian and movement activist D'Emilio explores the history of gay life since WWII, describes the courage and accomplishments of gay and lesbian activists, and surveys the vast effect of their movement for equality on American society, politics, and the university. No index. Paper edition (unseen), $15.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415905107
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 8/14/1992
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

John D'Emilio
John D'Emilio
Pioneering scholar, activist, and historian John D'Emilio has broken ground with books like The World Turned: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and Culture and his National Book Award-nominated biography Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin.


John D'Emilio is professor of history and of gender and women's studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, from 1995 to 1997 he served as the Founding Director of the Policy Institute at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. He is the co-author of Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (1997). He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1982.

Author biography courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Good To Know

In our interview, D'Emilio shared some fun facts and fascinating insights with us:

"I eat cereal every night before bed, and eat it with orange juice rather than milk. Cheerios and Grape Nuts are my current favorites."

"I won the citywide essay contest of the Archdiocese of New York back in 1961 or 1962, and got written up (I think on the front page, but I'm not sure) in the New York Herald Tribune -- a great paper, now defunct."

"Every time I get a new computer, I have to delete all the games on it because if I didn't, I'd never get anything else done!"

"I make a chicken soup and a tomato sauce that is better than any I've ever had."

"I long for a time again in this country when values of generosity, community, justice, and peacefulness reign."

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    1. Hometown:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 21, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bronx, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Columbia University, 1970; Ph.D., 1982

Table of Contents

By Way of Introduction: Notes from One Gay Life
Pt. 1 Rewriting History
1 Capitalism and Gay Identity 3
2 Dreams Deferred: The Birth and Betrayal of America's First Gay Liberation Movement 17
3 The Homosexual Menace: The Politics of Sexuality in Cold War America 57
4 Gay Politics, Gay Community: San Francisco's Experience 74
5 Gay History: A New Field of Study 96
Pt. 2 Remaking the University
6 The Universities and the Gay Experience 117
7 The Issue of Sexual Preference on College Campuses: Retrospect and Prospect 128
8 Not a Simple Matter: Gay History and Gay Historians 138
9 The Campus Environment for Gay and Lesbian Life 148
10 Inaugurating the First Lesbian and Gay Studies Department: San Francisco City College 155
11 Gay and Lesbian Studies: New Kid on the Block? 160
12 Graduation Day 176
Pt. 3 Living Politics
13 Making and Unmaking Minorities: The Tension Between Gay History and Politics 181
14 The Supreme Court and the Sodomy Statutes: Where Do We Go From Here? 191
15 Saturday Night 196
16 Women Against Pornography: Feminist Frontier or Social Purity Crusade? 202
17 The Names Project Quilt: A People's Memorial 216
18 You Can't Build a Movement on Anger 220
19 A Generation of Progress 224
20 After Stonewall 234
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