The Price of Going Mainstream

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         Assimilation into a dominant mainstream has always been a thorny issue for minority groups seeking acceptance. It would be cranky to begrudge the millions of gay men and lesbians who have joyfully embraced mainstream values and norms, even at the cost of jettisoning aspects of their lives that don’t fit the mold. But there are still many people who question these values and norms, including those who continue to be on the side of re-envisioning more progressive societal constructs by acting to change the status quo, and those who concur with what James Baldwin wrote in The Fire Next Time (with reference to racism): “Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?”

         So, far be it from me or anyone else of a certain age to resent those who are now enjoying the fruits of gay liberation in the form of acceptance into mainstream social institutions. At the same time, these folks should be aware of the inevitable backlash against these gains—anti-gay legislation is afoot in many states as I write—and be prepared to fight back against powerful individuals and groups that seek to destroy what has been gained.

*       In 1974, according to my literary agent at the time, Rosenthal killed a “rave” review by Times staffer Judy Klemesrud of my book Woman Plus Woman: Attitudes Toward Lesbianism. Probable reason: not fit to print. It gave me some solace back then to see that a Boston Evening Globe editor was not so squeamish, running a “rave” review by Loretta Lotman in the July 14, 1974 issue.


Dolores Klaich is writing a memoir of the early days of the gay and lesbian liberation movement.

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Discussion2 Comments

  1. Some people believe we need more poster children and less revolution, in a way to me that may be correct, we need more art work, more holding hands, more kissing, more TV , more movies more visibility and more capitalist gain in the LGBT movement and finally, more spiritual growth and healing, and more therapy. Not until Homosexuality is thought of as completely normal will we truly experience the sought after pride. It is not up to Congress or Academics to grant us freedom, we must unravel it from a never ending form of self expression of how we view same sex affection and attraction, it must be in all of our stories and not just taken account of

  2. Enough already with the bitching and moaning from all of these so-called radicals who, having spent the last few decades attacking mainstream gay activism rather than actually working for real change, are now claiming that we were too effective and they would prefer other political goals that virtually no one besides them share. I don’t consider that to be radical and certainly not democratic or populist – it is actually an incredibly elitist and condescending form of politics that assumes the “queer” masses are suffering from false consciousness and should defer to the judgements of their “radical” betters.

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