Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Introduction

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pp. vii-xvii

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, poet Elsa Gidlow, then an elderly woman, met a number of younger lesbians who considered her a lesbian icon. Gidlow had grown up in Quebec but had settled in San Francisco in the 1920s, and she extolled the gay community she came upon there throughout the early part of the century. ‘‘Before every...

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1. Daughters and Sons for the Rest of Their Lives

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pp. 1-40

In the fall of 1945, after finishing his tour of duty in Hawaii, a twentyone- year-old William Billings wrote a long and momentous letter to his parents, in Arkansas City, Kansas, where he had grown up. Billings was contemplating coming home and going to college with funds from the G.I. Bill of Rights. But he needed to tell his parents something first. He began...

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2. Better Blatant Than Latent

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pp. 41-77

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, writer and peace activist Barbara Deming never explicitly told her mother, Katherine Deming, that she was gay. For a period of more than twenty years, they wrote each other loving and supportive letters, Katherine Deming from the family home in New York City, and her daughter from various places while living...

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3. What’s Wrong with the Boys Nowadays?

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pp. 78-107

The gay liberation movement marked a moment of hope that gay individuals would no longer just be faintly—or even pruriently— imagined figures in North American life. Insisting upon the recognition of a knowable gay self, liberation thinkers and writers sought to demystify gay sexuality and in turn urge a rethinking of ideas of personal...

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4. Out of the Closets, Out of the Kitchens

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pp. 108-135

Lesbian counselor Julie Lee was quite confident that most parents would not reject their gay children. To a teenager fretting about her parents’ response to her lesbianism in 1974, Lee wrote, ‘‘If your family rejects you because of something like that, all I can say is that THEY need psychotherapy, not you!’’ And, she noted, this therapy was...

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5. ‘‘Every Generation Has Its War’’

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pp. 136-178

When the AIDS activist group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP) staged street-theater-oriented protests in the later 1980s, one of their iconographic Ronald Reagan posters asked the question, ‘‘What If Your Son Gets Sick?’’1 The question was deliberately provocative, of course, part of the ongoing needling about the president’s...

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Epilogue: Mom, Dad, I’m Gay

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pp. 179-195

By the 1980s and early 1990s, gays were starting to envision themselves as enduring, if contested, family members. Images proliferated of gays revealing their sexuality to their parents, bringing their partners home to meet their parents, and participating in family events. The desire for family integration appeared throughout gay advice literature and...

Notes

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pp. 197-266

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 267-279

Index

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pp. 281-289