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Issue Categories Archives: History

Carl Wittman’s Place in Liberation History

Carl’s models for the Manifesto were Marx’s Communist Manifesto and the SDS Port Huron Statement. Consequently, it was written in the style of a left-wing screed.

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Straight Abe: Back Like a Bad Penny

    Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln: The Enduring Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed by Charles B. Strozier Columbia. 352 pages, $35.     IN 1982, Charles B. Strozier published an influential psychoanalytic study of Abraham Lincoln’s personal life, Lincoln’s Quest for Union: Public and Private Meanings. One chapter focused on Joshua Speed, […]

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LGBT History 101

U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender HistoryEdited by Leila J. Rupp and Susan K. FreemanUniversity of Wisconsin Press. 383 pages, $29.95   The times, they have a-changed. In 2009, the California state legislature passed SB48, the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Responsible) Education Act, mandating the inclusion of LGBT history and culture into high school […]

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The Many Genders of Old India

TRADITIONAL INDIAN CULTURE is replete with legends and mythologies where heroes and heroines have chosen various genders without guilt, and their choices have been accepted and respected by the community. Ironically, today the Western nations are progressive in research and education about variant expressions of gender and sexuality, while in India—despite our rich cultural heritage […]

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An English Martyr

The Imitation GameDirected by Morten TyldumBlack Bear Pictures Alan Turing:  The Enigmaby Andrew HodgesPrinceton.  768 pages, $16.95    “BASED ON A TRUE STORY” are probably the most ominous words in film, but that’s what flashes across the screen at the opening of The Imitation Game, the new biopic about the British mathematician Alan Turing. Like […]

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Readers’ Thoughts

If They Mated: Carson and Gypsy  To the Editor:          I was glad to see David Kaplan’s piece on Tennessee Williams’ friendships [in the Jan.-Feb. 2015 issue], including his friend Carson McCullers, who is claimed to have had a crush on Gypsy Rose Lee and to have consummated a sexual relationship with her.          I have […]

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Do Tell: Recovering GLBT History

RECOVERING or reframing history-creating a “people’s history”-has been important for all identity-based social movements, but it’s been crucial and particularly revelatory for the GLBT movement. …

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Hamilton and Laurens statue

Alexander Hamilton’s Smoking Gun

PERHAPS no American icon has had more speculation raised (and dismissed) about his sexual orientation than Alexander Hamilton. This controversial Founding Father left behind an abundance of questions after dying a premature death following an ill-fated duel with political rival Aaron Burr. Hamilton’s story is one that cries out for re-examination and that may be ripe for revision. …

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Lincoln vs. Douglas: Who Was Gayer?

THE POLITICS OF ILLINOIS from the 1830’s to 1850’s can provide a good case study of attitudes toward gays-partly because the region was then a part of the American West, where political discussion was almost unrestrained, and partly because participants included some of the most famous characters in American history.

Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln’s famous political adversary and debating opponent, could be quite uninhibited in public in his physical contact with men. …

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The Gay McCarthyites

ONE OF THE LOW POINTS in American history was in the early 1950’s when Senator Joseph McCarthy successfully fueled and exploited Americans’ fear and paranoia about secret governmental conspiracies, launching witch hunts to expose allegedly subversive infiltrators and Communists within the U.S. government. A lesser known part of the story is the critical role that a same-sex male relationship, almost certainly a sexual one, played in bringing the crisis of McCarthyism to a head and, in the end, silencing the senator. As it happens, the gay couple involved cannot exactly be considered the “good guys” in the drama.

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