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.