The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America

The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America

by Eric Cervini


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New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. Winner of the 2021 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction. One of The Washington Post's Top 50 Nonfiction Books of 2020.

From a young Harvard- and Cambridge-trained historian, the secret history of the fight for gay rights that began a generation before Stonewall.

In 1957, Frank Kameny, a rising astronomer working for the U.S. Defense Department in Hawaii, received a summons to report immediately to Washington, D.C. The Pentagon had reason to believe he was a homosexual, and after a series of humiliating interviews, Kameny, like countless gay men and women before him, was promptly dismissed from his government job. Unlike many others, though, Kameny fought back.

Based on firsthand accounts, recently declassified FBI records, and forty thousand personal documents, Eric Cervini's The Deviant's War unfolds over the course of the 1960s, as the Mattachine Society of Washington, the group Kameny founded, became the first organization to protest the systematic persecution of gay federal employees. It traces the forgotten ties that bound gay rights to the Black Freedom Movement, the New Left, lesbian activism, and trans resistance. Above all, it is a story of America (and Washington) at a cultural and sexual crossroads; of shocking, byzantine public battles with Congress; of FBI informants; murder; betrayal; sex; love; and ultimately victory.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250798503
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 06/01/2021
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 54,719
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Eric Cervini is an award-winning historian of LGBTQ+ culture and politics. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates Scholar. The Deviant’s War is his first book.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Ritual 3

1 The Astronomer 7

2 The Letter 18

3 The Panic 30

4 The Union 48

5 The Mattachine 67

6 The Bureau 80

7 The Crusader 94

8 The Alliance 114

9 The Congressman 136

10 The March 156

11 The Bouquet 181

12 The Picket 197

13 The Student 215

14 The Illustrator 231

15 The Floor Plan 245

16 The Chaos 262

17 The Riots 281

18 The Liberation 303

19 The Pride 326

20 The Candidate 352

Epilogue: The White House 371

Sources and Acknowledgments 385

Notes 391

Index 477

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