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Somebody got you started. That’s the hard part, and often, that’s all you need: a forward-thinking person to lay the framework so you can roll with a project, adding, subtracting, shaping, refining. Somebody just needed to get you started; you can take it from there, as you’ll see in “The Right Side of History” by Adrian Brooks.
As in most years, this summer’s Pride parades were raucous events. And why not? There’s plenty to celebrate: new laws, old friends, and a sense of things being better—which can make it hard to remember that, “Such gains didn’t occur in a vacuum ...” according to Brooks. This book, “a chorus of voices untamed,” is a collection of explanations.
To begin, Brooks writes of Isadora Duncan, a “free spirit” who, when ladies were expected to be proper, danced on stage with abandon, bared her breasts in public, and slept with whomever she pleased—male or female.
Hayden L. Mora writes of gay life in the early twentieth century, when clubs for “samesex attraction” began to appear in larger cities, even though being caught in a compromising situation could result in a loss of citizenship. For Henry Gerber, the choice was a mental institution or the U.S. Army; he picked the latter and came back from World War I “determined to begin organizing gay men.”
The “father of the gay liberation movement” and founder of the Mattachine Society got his fire from another organization’s strike. A well-liked gay African-American boy, lovingly called “Pinhead” as a child, grew up to be Martin Luther King Jr.’s “righthand man,” while a nerdy white doctor (who happened to sleep with men) changed our notions of male sexuality. Activists today fight for intersex infants, asking doctors to delay sex-assignment surgery. Conversation launched a lesbian organization, and people have stepped into activist roles because of Anita Bryant, out-of-the-closet writers, politics, personal discoveries, and a 54-ton quilt.
And that parade you marched in? If you live in San Francisco, you might like to know that the Pride parade route is exactly the