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A Queer History of the United States

"In the age of Twitter and reductive history, we need a complex, fully realized, radical reassessment of history-and A Queer History of the United Statesis exactly that. Along the way, there are enough revelations and reassessments to fuel dozens of arguments about how we got to where we are today. I don't know when I have enjoyed a history so much."-Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

One of Lambda Literary's Highly Anticipated Books of 2011

Book cover for A Queer History of the United StatesIn 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-nineteenth century, internationally famous Shakespearean actor Charlotte Cushman led an openly lesbian life, including a well-publicized "female marriage." And 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. These are just a few moments of queer history that Michael Bronski highlights in this groundbreaking book.

Intellectually dynamic and endlessly provocative, A Queer History of the United States is more than a "who's who" of queer history: it is a book that radically challenges how we understand American history. Drawing upon primary documents, literature, and cultural histories, noted scholar and activist Michael Bronski charts the breadth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, from 1492 to the 1990s, and has written a testament to how the LGBT experience has profoundly shaped our country, culture, and history.

A Queer History of the United States abounds with startling examples of unknown or often ignored aspects of American history-the ineffectiveness of sodomy laws in the colonies, the prevalence of cross-dressing women soldiers in the Civil War, the impact of new technologies on LGBT life in the nineteenth century, and how rock music and popular culture were, in large part, responsible for the devastating backlash against gay rights in the late 1970s. Most striking, Bronski documents how, over centuries, various incarnations of social purity movements have consistently attempted to regulate all sexuality, including fantasies, masturbation, and queer sex. Resisting these efforts, same-sex desire flourished and helped make America what it is today.

At heart, A Queer History of the United States is simply about American history. It is a book that will matter both to LGBT people and heterosexuals. This engrossing and revelatory history will make readers appreciate just how queer America really is.

Bronski Michael Bronski has been a gay activist, writer, and cultural critic since 1969. An original founding member of Fag Rag (1970) and Boston Gay Review (1975), he was also the principal arts writer for the Gay Community News (the first national LGBT weekly) from 1975-1995.

Along with winning two Lambda Literary Awards, he is the recipient of the 1999 The Martin Duberman Fellowship for scholarly research in GLBT studies, awarded by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, City University of New York, and the prestigious 1999 Stonewall Award, presented by the Anderson Prize Foundation. Bronski has won community recognition awards from Boston’s AIDS Action committee and the Cambridge Lavender Alliance, and the 2004 Leadership Award from the D-GALA (Dartmouth Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association and the 2008 Distinguished Lecturer Award form Dartmouth College. He is Senior Lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies and Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College.

Read an excerpt from A Queer History of the United States