Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution

Rich Benjamin in The New York Times:

GayHis dashing ascot billowing, his flat cap perched just so (to hide his bald spot), the cleft-chinned Harry Hay had some impressive head shots. As a student at Stanford in the early 1930s, he had come out to his classmates as “temperamental,” code for “homosexual.” In 1934, having dropped out of Stanford and moved to Los Angeles to try a career in pictures — and having already begun to hone his identity as sensualist and agitator — he joined the Communist Party. Around 1936, he turned up at a Halloween party dressed as “the demise of fascism.” The other homosexual bons vivants were stumped: none were terribly turned on to politics, so none knew what Harry’s costume meant. These men, and others like them across America, had no core ideology, no political groups to join, no leaders. Hay changed that. In 1950, he helped create the Mattachine Society, the country’s first gay rights organization, and demanded that the people it represented “be respected for our differences, not for our sameness to heterosexuals.” This year, the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest advocacy and lobbying organization for gay, bisexual and transgender rights, appointed Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, as the first national corporate spokesman for its same-sex marriage campaign. “Ameri­ca’s corporations learned long ago that equality is just good business and is the right thing to do,” Blankfein says in a Web video. The organization also bestowed on Goldman Sachs its 2012 “corporate equality award.”

How does a movement get from there to here — from Hay to Blankfein? Linda Hirshman’s “Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution” sets out to explain, tracing the history of gay rights from the early 20th century to the present.

More here.