Barbara Gittings: Gay Pioneer is the first full-length biography of the woman who has been called the mother of the gay-rights movement, Barbara Gittings. Her work in the LGBT movement spanned from the late 1950s until her death in 2007. Her partner in life, Kay Lahusen, photographed many of the movement's biggest actions during the 1960s, and more than 270 photos accompany this biography.
This book is available in both color and B&W editions, and in color on Kindle by July 2015.
Gittings was active in a wide range of pre- and post-Stonewall groups, including the Daughters of Bilitis. She served as editor of DOB's newsletter, The Ladder. She worked with Frank Kameny on many protests and legal cases fighting government discrimination. She also was among the leaders of the push to change the American Psychiatric Association diagnosis of homosexuality as an illness, and among those pushing the American Library Association to be more inclusive of gays.
The book is available in both B&W and color editions on Amazon, and also in color on Kindle.
"Baim's book, the first full-length biography of Barbara Gittings, demonstrates why Frank Kameny, who earned the right to be considered a father of the gay civil-rights movement, so aptly deemed Gittings its mother. As Baim shows, more than any lesbian leader of the 20th century, Gittings kept her eyes sharply focused on the prize of civil rights for gay people."
- From the Foreword by Lillian Faderman
"This first and deeply moving biography of Barbara Gittings, pioneer of lesbian political activism, dramatically evokes a past of open, outrageous anti-homosexual discrimination. Today's radically different world was first imagined and then begun to be built by daring activists like Gittings."
- Jonathan Ned Katz, Co-Director, OutHistory.org
"Tracy Baim brings Gittings to life in this captivating and inspiring biography. Skillfully combining Gittings' own words with accounts of her activist campaigns, this biography makes clear how much Gittings accomplished. A committed activist for five decades, Barbara Gittings truly changed the world. "
- Author and Historian John D'Emilio (In a New Century: Essays on
Queer History, Politics, and Community Life)
"Barbara Gittings just about leaps from the pages of Tracy Baim's celebratory biography of the gay rights movement's happiest warrior. Determined, persistent, persuasive, and wicked-smart, Barbara wielded her smile like a machete, demolishing all demagogues and fools who got in the way of what she knew to be true about herself and the rest of us. How lucky were we that she was born at a time when we so desperately needed her to help blaze our path to freedom."
- Eric Marcus, author of Making Gay History
"Tracy Baim has captured the life and legacy of the mother of gay liberation in America with this book. Barbara Gittings would have loved it. Another incredible book on our history!"
- Reverend Troy Perry
"Gittings understood early on the critical role America's libraries would play in changing hearts and minds about gay issues. In an age before the Internet, she dedicated her life to making good information available to all through her leadership in the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association. This powerful biography tells a story that libraries across the nation can celebrate."
- John Cunningham, Retired Chief of Branch and Regional Libraries, The Free Library of Philadelphia
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About the Author
Baim received the 2013 Chicago Headline Club Lifetime Achievement Award for her 30 years in journalism. In 2014, she was inducted into the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame.
Baim is the editor and co-author of Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America (2012), a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and a Top 10 selection from the American Library Association GLBT Round Table.
Baim also wrote Barbara Gittings: Gay Pioneer, with a foreword by Lillian Faderman and photos by Kay Tobin Lahusen, in 2015.
She is the author of Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage (2010, Prairie Avenue Productions). She is also the co-author and editor of Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community (2008, Agate), the first comprehensive book on Chicago's gay history (the companion website is ChicagoGayHistory.org); and author of Where the World Meets, a book about Gay Games VII in Chicago (2007, Lulu.com). Her most recent books include a novel, The Half Life of Sgt. Jen Hunter, about lesbians in the military prior to Don't Ask, Don't Tell (it was the stage play Half Life in 2005), and the biographies Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow, Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria and Vernita Gray: From Woodstock to the White House. She also co-wrote The Fight for Marriage Equality in the Land of Lincoln with Kate Sosin in 2014.
Baim was executive producer of the lesbian feature film Hannah Free, starring Sharon Gless (2008, Ripe Fruit Films) and Scrooge & Marley, a gay Christmas Carol, in 2012. She was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1994 and was named a Crain's Chicago Business 40 Under 40 leader in 1995. She has received numerous other awards, including from the international Astraea Lesbian Foundation.
She is also creator of That's So Gay!, a 2,400-question LGBT history trivia game.