PROFILES IN GAY AND LESBIAN COURAGE by Troy D. Perry

PROFILES IN GAY AND LESBIAN COURAGE

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Eight gay figures carve a niche in the American dream in this collection of engaging but often overzealous biographies. Inspired by JFK's Profiles in Courage, Perry and Swicegood attempt to give full character portraits as well as to cover the many sides of gay political struggle. The authors (who collaborated on Perry's autobiographical Don't Be Afraid Anymore, 1990) tone down their previously displayed penchant for religious sanctimony and often let those profiled speak for themselves with direct quotes. Just about all of the figures lived through the repressive 50's, when, the authors say, the only authority on homosexuality was ``insupportable psychiatric claptrap'' and the process of ``outing'' was done by ``bigoted busy bodies'' much less friendly than the radical gay outers of today. We relive Sgt. Leonard Matlovich's homophobic upbringing that culminated in his bitter struggle to retain his military status after his gayness incurred an Air Force discharge. By contrast, Elaine Noble--successful gay- rights legislator--comes off almost too positive and cute to be mired in Boston politics. Amid such lionized avatars as assassinated San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mattachine Society founder Harry Hay, Barbara Gittings emerges as one of the most personable and intelligent figures of the early gay movement in her labors with the American Library Association to secure an official category for gay books. Unfortunately, one person is mentioned several times but is denied his own chapter--Franklin Kameny. This former government astronomer, fired from his post for his proclivities, was a major force behind many pro-gay legislative efforts and was outspoken enough to confront Jimmy Carter face-to- face on the issue. A brief and sometimes enlightening mix of personality vignettes by and about people who seem all scrubbed up for respectability but who still have a long way to go before ``family, church and society'' are open doors to them. (Eight photographs.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-06360-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1991