A provocative report on the progress of LGBTQ rights.
The driving force behind Duberman’s (The Rest of It: Cocaine, Hustlers, Depression, and Then Some, 1976-1988, 2018, etc.) astute, briskly written analysis is his “limited satisfaction with what most gay people are hailing as the speediest success story in all of our country’s long history of social protest.” After rereading the 1972 anthology Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation, Duberman became inspired to argue against the current complacency of the culture which he believes has been resting on the successes of marriage liberties and limited civil rights. He highlights the type of activism represented by broadly radical coalitions like the Gay Liberation Front, created after the 1969 Stonewall riots, and contrasts it with the narrowed focus of the current resistance. The author’s broad historical knowledge shows in his discussions of the movement’s ties to the Black Panthers and the Latino community as well as his profile of influential trans activist Sylvia Rivera. Duberman’s focus veers outward to illuminate the strengths and successes of the gay marriage agenda but also notes how it feels misguided in areas of class status and socio-economic advantage. The author uses experiences from his own “accomplished life” history as intimate examples while echoing the arguments of activist and journalist Michelangelo Signorile. However, the middle section of the book, which debates the origins of homosexuality, is awkwardly placed within the context of his primary discussion. With a mix of seasoned insight and palpable frustration, Duberman pleads his case for unity and togetherness within the LGBTQ community and across other societal and cultural groups, which must join forces for the common goal of equality and tolerance. The author’s exhilarating conclusion demonstrates a distinctive scholarship of gay liberation history and his familiarity with the “shriveled posture of the movement in its present guise.” Duberman challenges gay readers and their allies to become active within a complex caucus he feels has become unfocused and misled.
A relevant, fiery, and dizzying treatise certain to provoke debate and discussion.