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Letter to Councilman LaBonge
Real People as Fictional Characters
Female Actors, Part Two
One Culture Hero Award
Adelante Gay Pride Gala
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Tom of Finland: Sexual Liberator or Enslaver
Lying Writers
Review of The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson
Promiscuous Thoughts
A Crime of the Heart
A Letter to Michael Silverblatt
"Have you no decency, sir?"
Political Incorrectness: Female Actors and Trojans
He Hugged Moms and Dads
What is a Girly Man?
Review of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
From Sunset Boulevard to Mulholland Drive
The Gay Mammies
A Writer Protests
Review of Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro
A Spirit Preserved in 'Amber'
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Review of "Lost Years: A Memoir 1945-1951 by Christopher Isherwood"
Review of "Out For Good"
Review of "Hoyt Street: an Autobiography"
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Muscles and Mascara
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Brother Paul, Sister Jan, Brother Hinn, God and the Folks
Advice to the Next Generation
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Beatin' Around the Bush

Cruise Not Gay! The Judge Has Spoken

The Horror, The Horror
LA--a Cliché?
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"OUT FOR GOOD: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America" by Dudley Clendinen & Adam Nagourney

Note: a version of this book review appeared in the Los Angeles Times Book Review.     

The authors of this auspicious tome place the birth of the modern gay rights movement in June, 1969, the time of riots at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in New York City. Earlier actions are attributed to a "tiny network of people . . . essentially silent, unseen and inert." At Stonewall, "for the first time, the usual acquiescence turned into violent resistance [and] the lives of millions of gay men and lesbians began to change." That narrowing of gay defiance and at times a seemingly arbitrary choice of what is of historical import mar this impressive book.

     Veterans of the frontlines will recoil at the authors' assertion that the years before Stonewall were "years of unchallenged police raids." Historian Jim Kemper's "Becoming a People, a 4000-Year Gay and Lesbian Chronology," an imposing record published by the National Gay Archives, describes many such actions before Stonewall. A 1967 raid on the Black Cat Bar in San Francisco created disruptions that spread into Los Angeles, where over 200 gay men protested. In early 1969, the beating of a gay man led to a battle before heavily armed Los Angeles police. Both events are relegated to an "inert" time by the authors, who assert that it took "six months for the spark of Stonewall to reach Los Angeles."

     It is not inconceivable that emphasis on the Stonewall rebellion comes, in part, because it occurred in New York and was given its present importance by East Coast activists.

     Surprisingly, among hundreds of interviews cited, no voice is heard from those who set the night on fire on that Stonewall night, only from those who emerged in caucuses and meetings.

     Gay gossip recurs as history. Three pages are donated to the account by a "cute" young man (for whom sex "had been a bowl of candies") about how he got Tennessee Williams--"infamously alcoholic and unreliable"--to sign a letter in support of individual rights; the young man had once "batted his eyelashes" at the great playwright, although he "didn't want to have to go to bed" with him.

     Los Angeles Millionaire Sheldon Andelson's reason for hiding his AIDS, the authors conjecture, was that the knowledge would wreck his image of power because "AIDS was primarily contracted by being the receptive figure in anal intercourse, a passive sexual role." Implicitly judging sexual roles, the authors leap to illogic. Is the receptive figure infected by another receptive figure?

     Dozens of heroic men and women emerge deservedly and sharply out of this account, but the authors dismiss more exotic but equally valiant players, like the publishers of "physique" magazines whose court cases paved the way for gay rights. "Faggots," a fine novel by admirable advocate and canny performer Larry Kramer is given singular significance, while insurrectionary pioneers like William Burroughs and James Purdy are ignored.

     Despite its shortcomings, this book is a monumental trove of essential information ungathered until now.

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