The first comprehensive history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender America, from pre-1492 to the present
“Readable, radical, and smart—a must read.”—Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home
Intellectually dynamic and endlessly provocative, this is more than a “who’s who” of queer history: it is a narrative that radically challenges how we understand American history. Drawing upon primary documents, literature, and cultural histories, scholar and activist Michael Bronski charts the breadth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, from 1492 to the present, a testament to how the LGBTQ+ experience has profoundly shaped American culture and history.
American history abounds with unknown or ignored examples of queer life, from the ineffectiveness of sodomy laws in the colonies to the prevalence of cross-dressing women soldiers in the Civil War and resistance to homophobic social purity movements. Bronski highlights such groundbreaking moments of queer history as:
• In the 1620s, Thomas Morton broke from Plymouth Colony and founded Merrymount, which celebrated same-sex desire, atheism, and interracial marriage.
•Transgender evangelist Jemima Wilkinson, in the early 1800s, changed her name to “Publick Universal Friend,” refused to use pronouns, fought for gender equality, and led her own congregation in upstate New York.
• In the mid-19th century, internationally famous Shakespearean actor Charlotte Cushman led an openly lesbian life, including a well-publicized “female marriage.”
• in the late 1920s, Augustus Granville Dill was fired by W. E. B. Du Bois from the NAACP’s magazine the Crisis after being arrested for a homosexual encounter.
Informative and empowering, this engrossing and revelatory treatise emphasizes that there is no American history without queer history.