The lesbian and gay liberation movement (though not yet the bi or trans movement) that flourished after the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 was reflected in the explosion of queer literature that appeared in its wake.

This literary explosion was not yet in fiction: the “Gay Cultural Renaissance (to quote Winston Leyland) did not reach its full fruition until 1978. Post-Stonewall LGBT literature mostly expressed itself in non-fiction: personal memoirs, political manifestos, and historical analyses. These books have great historical and literary value. Books by Dennis Altman and Merle Miller are available at Amazon.com and other titles can be found at Bolerium.com. The Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Fort Lauderdale is another valuable resource.  

Though Stonewall changed the political landscape as soon as it happened, it did not affect our literature until 1971. That was the year that Dennis Altman, an Australian journalist and scholar, published Homosexual Oppression and Liberation (Outerbridge). Altman’s book was followed by several volumes that combined the authors’ own coming out stories with their experiences with New York City’s epochal groups the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance: Dancing the Gay Lib Blues: A Year in the Homosexual Liberation Movement by Arthur Bell (Simon & Schuster); On Being Different: What It Means to be a Homosexual, by Merle Miller (Random House); and Homosexual Liberation: A Personal View by John Murphy (Praeger). They were joined by the first detailed history of the movement: The Gay Militants by Donn Teal (Stein and Day), a study of the eventful year between the Stonewall Uprising and New York City’s first Christopher Street Liberation Day parade (1969-1970).  

Though the Task Force on Gay Liberation of the American Library Association gave its first Gay Book Award in 1971 to A Place for Us (Patience and Sarah), a historical novel by Isabel Miller, in 1972 it recognized the Literature of Pride when it gave its prize jointly to The Gay Mystique: The Myth and Reality of Male Homosexuality by Peter Fisher (Stein and Day) and Lesbian/Woman by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon (Bantam). That year lesbian activist writers combined the spirit of lesbian and gay liberation with the thought of the modern feminist movement, as they did in Lesbian/Woman and in Sappho Was a Right-On Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism, by Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love (Stein and Day). Activist authors continued to enlighten us with their stories, most notably Lige Clarke and Jack Nichols in their memoir I Have More Fun with You than Anybody (St. Martin’s Press), which this critic called “the happiest gay book” of that age. Meanwhile, Kay Tobin and Randy Wicker profiled 15 lesbian and gay activists in The Gay Crusaders (Paperback Library) while Karla Jay and Allen Young collected some of the most important post-Stonewall movement literature in Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation (Douglas). If you can only read one post-Stonewall queer liberation book, Out of the Closets is the one. 


Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and journalist. He has been an active member of South Florida's LGBT community for more than four decades and has served in various community organizations.


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