A renegade history of the United States

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The first gay political movement in the U.S., the "homophile" movement of the 1950s and 1960s, sought "civil rights," "full citizenship," and "recognition that we are just like heterosexuals." When America most vigorously defined intself as heterosexual, homosexual activists sought inclusion rather than freedom. [...]

In response to the antihomosexual culture of the 1950s, members of the Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis, and the Janus Society, the three major homophile organizations, adopted the "politics of respectability" of the civil rights movement. Members of the organizations wore business suits and conservative dresses. They were expected to adhere to "Ivy League fashion"; no "swishing" and no "bottles-in-blond men, limp wrists and lisping" were permitted. At social gatherings, they showed only "scientific documentation about homosexuality" that had "been approved by the Supreme Court. No "muscle movies" were allowed. The groups explicitly banned drag queens and "bull dykes" from their meetings. And their political activities were limited to seeking sympathetic scientists to conduct research that would demonstrate the homosexuality was "normal. The Mattachine Society adopted a resolution disavowing "any direct, aggressive action" in pursuit of its goals. Virtually repeating the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and other assimilationist leaders of the civil rights movement, the Janus Society urged "all homosexuals to adopt a behavior code which would be beyond criticism and which would eliminate many of the barriers to integration with the heterosexual world." [...]

Emboldened by Stonewall and the burgeoning gay freedom movement, in May 1970 activists with the Los Angeles chapter of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) infiltrated a conference on behavior modification by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). During a film demonstration the use of electroshock therapy to decrease same-sex attraction, GLF members shouted "torture!" and "barbarism!" then seized the microphone to declare that doctors who prescribed such therapy for their homosexual patients were complicit in torturing them and that homosexuals were not mentally ill. Two years later, apparently sensing a national mood change, the APA invited gay activists to speak at the organization's national conference. And in 1973, the APA Board of Trustees voted to remove the category of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. That same year, the psychological profession adopted the Bem Sex-Role Inventory, a scale that measured masculinity and femininity as separate and coexistent within an individual. Thus, Americans began to speak not just of feminine and masculine personalities but also of "androgynous" types - people who were both masculine and feminine, or neither.

Today's movement for gay marriage - a renewal of the homophile movement - ended gay liberation, is helping to end straight liberation, and seeks to return all of us to the 1950s. [...]

The implications for gay, lesbian, and transgender people are clear. But for straights, they are no less world defining. The homophile and gay marriage movements tell us that the nuclear family is the destiny for all of us who wish to be healthy. Above all, they tell us not just that homosexual acts should be hidden and contained, but as the Puritan strain in American culture has told us from the beginning, all sex should be hidden and contained. For those who reject that nation, the queers of the Stonewall era should be national heroes.

source: From the book 'A renegade history of the United States' by Thaddeus Russell; Free Press, New York, London, Sydney, Toronto; Manufactured in the United States of America; 2010