Gay Liberation and its Legacies

Authored by: Jeffrey Weeks

The Ashgate Research Companion to Lesbian and Gay Activism

Print publication date:  August  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409457091
eBook ISBN: 9781315613147
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042914


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Gay liberation was a radical movement of and for people marginalized and oppressed for their same-sex desires and practices, and for their gender nonconformity. From its explosive emergence in the USA in the late 1960s, gay liberation saw itself as part of a wider emancipatory movement, alongside the movements of women and racial minorities, and of national liberation struggles. It looked forward to a world where the distinction between heterosexual and homosexual, straight and gay, became redundant. Utopian in its rhetoric and aspirations, the supreme irony of its history was that far from seeing the “end of the homosexual,” or the heterosexual, as one of its first theorists proposed (Altman 2012), its greatest achievement in the countries in which it first emerged was to strengthen and affirm new personal and public lesbian and gay sexual identities.

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