Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights—Eric Marcus

Eric Marcus.
Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights.
HarperPerrenial, 2002.
ISBN: 978-0060933913.

marcus_making_gay_history

Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights is a collection of interviews, beginning with the formation of the Mattachine Society and The Daughter’s of Bilitis, right through the era of Mcarthyism (when it was worse to be queer than communist), the sixties and Stonewall, the seventies and marches, with the people who were the princ

iples in these historic events. The interviews are framed by editorial commentary to place the interviews in context. Interview subjects include a num

ber of well-known figures like Randy Shilts, Elizabeth Birch, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Ellen DeGeneres, Randy Shilts, and others who were movers and shakers in terms of GLBT civil rights.

One of the greatest virtues of Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights is that because it’s based on interviews, it’s a collection of primary sources by real people using their own words. It’s confusing at times to identify the various people, but Marcus’ editorial notes help. It’s particularly fascinating to read the words of people who have been involved in gay rights for fifty or more years in terms of how things have changed, and how they’ve remained the same. It’s an interesting collection, covering events that many people may not even know about, but should.

In terms of organization and content, Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights is based on an enormous number of interviews that Marcus, who has an M.A. degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, conducted. These interviews, editorial introductions and summaries begin with the creation of the Mattachine Society and The Daughter’s of Bilitis, and progress historically through Mcarthyism (when being queer than was the only thing that was worse than being a communist), the Stonewall era and the public birth of Gay Pride, the seventies and the start of protest marches. Marcus conducted interviews with people involved, pro and con, with the actual events, as well as using newspapers and underground newsletters and private collections of photos and letters.

I think one of the strongest virtues of this book is that since it’s a collection of primary source documents in the form of interviews of people who were there. These are real people speaking in their own voices. It is fascinating and moving to read the words of people who have been fighting the good fight for QUILTBAG rights for fifty or more years.

Eric Marcus is also the author of Breaking the Surface, the best-selling autobiography of Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis, as well as Is It a Choice? Answers to 300 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay & Lesbian People. Eric Marcus has a Web site.

About the author

She plays o' the viol-de-gamboys, speaks three or four languages word for word without book, hath all the good gifts of nature, knows a hawk from a handsaw, and can see a church by daylight. The rest is subject to fancy.