Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution by Linda Hirshman
Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room
This is the story of the gay revolution in America starting over one hundred years ago, long before the famed Stonewall Riots in 1969. This non-fiction narrative covers every gay and lesbian organization and seemingly every single person involved in helping them gain equal rights. It chronicles how the movement started out with a small number of underground activists to large numbers of people taking a full political stand for what they believe in. Many organizations that were created over the years died out because their tactics didn’t work any more. New organizations were born of the old. Those people simply picked up and carried on in a new fashion. Each group had its own way of combating the issues they faced, be it police who wouldn’t let them innocently congregate in a bar, people who were afraid of what they didn’t know and made it illegal for an entire population to have consensual sex, to a government that withheld important medication that could have saved thousands of lives during the AIDS epidemic. Slowly the gay community fought back and gained the rights they deserved. There is still more work to be done, but when you look at how far we’ve come, we’ve certainly accomplished a lot in the last one hundred years.
This was a very good, very interesting read. I learned a lot I didn’t know about the history, and a lot about current matters I was unaware of. I would highly recommend this book for someone who’s very interested in the topic, already has at least a basic understanding of the past, and is looking for more. This is the book for you. It is very in depth and covers a lot of ground. However, do keep in mind, that until very recently Transgender equality wasn’t much of a priority, thus it is rarely mentioned in this book.
Despite all the good information in this book, there was one thing I had a problem with. There are a lot of names that come up over the course of history, many repeatedly, others not so much. There were a lot of organizations that came and went, along with their acronyms. And towards the end, when things turned political, there are a lot of court cases that get mentioned on the fly. How is one to keep all these things straight? I felt there needed to be a list of people, organizations, and a list of court cases at the end, all with a brief, one to two line description of who that person was or what the point of the case was. That would have helped a great deal. This is the reason I do not recommend this book to a beginner. If you don’t know much about gay history, read an easier book first before you tackle this one.
My best suggestion is a wonderful book called Gay America: Struggle For Equality by Linas Alsenas. There is a lot of information given without overwhelming the reader with names of people, court cases, or organizations. Everything is nicely laid out in an easy to read manner, and there are a lot of great pictures, helping to put faces with names.