The quest for equal rights for LGBTQ Americans is often cited as an example of constructive confrontation in action. In a recent discussion around accommodationism in the fight to keep creation out of public schools, I was asked to provide some documentation on the topic. I put together a list of almost entirely web-based resources for those interested.
I think is worth sharing here for those who want to address the topic in the future. So, an annotated bibliography on the role of confrontation in the U.S. fight for gay rights:
- A commentary on the changing nature of gay rights legal action and the personal story of one high-profile court case, with some food for thought about finding test cases (pdf): http://classes.lls.edu/fall2006/conlaw2sec3-west-faulcon/documents/Handout1.pdf
- A history of homophile group experience with 50s assimilation and 60s radicalism (pdf): http://www.salemstate.edu/~cmauriello/Demilio_Sexual%20Politics.pdf
- Documentation of the confrontational tactics of the Gay Activists Alliance: http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/gay_activists_alliance.html
- Some of the positive political steps achieved by the GAA: http://microformguides.gale.com/Data/Introductions/20240FM.htm
- Documentation of the wider practice of “zaps” and other confrontational tactics in the movement (limited access): http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/sex/summary/v012/12.2beemyn.html
- Stonewall, the riot that was the birth of a modern movement (and the occasion for observing Pride in June in the U.S.): http://news.change.org/stories/the-importance-of-stonewall
- An analysis of how ACT UP’s work to turn shame and grief into “an outward-directed, action-oriented anger” remobilized a community that had become somewhat passive by the early 80s and built the modern queer identity (pdf): http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.130.27&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- Some of the successes of ACT UP are documented on their Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS_Coalition_to_Unleash_Power
- A reminder that many thought the push for gay marriage in Massachusetts was too confrontational and would lead to a backlash that would put marriage out of reach for years to come, a fear that hasn’t panned out: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/02/when-gay-marriage-came-to-massachusetts/71635/
- A very modern example of how the practice of reacting to homophobia and discrimination quickly, angrily, and loudly shapes the general course of American politics: http://www.mediaite.com/online/targetbest-buy-gay-rights-boycott-tests-citizens-united-decision/
None of this suggests that there isn’t a role, particularly in the recent swell of support for gay marriage rights, for simply understanding one another as human beings. However, we did have to reduce the risks to LBGTQ populations to the extent where that was possible. That wouldn’t have happened without the changes wrought by confrontation.