Uncomfortable Bedfellows
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Published in: January-February 2022 issue.


The Forgotten History of Homosexuality and the Left in American Culture
by Aaron S. Lecklider
Univ. of California. 354 pages, $29.95



THOSE OF US with both homosexual and leftist tendencies have always been a little squeamish about examining the relationship between the two, flinching when we remember the Communist party line on homosexuality as bourgeois decadence. But in Love’s Next Meeting, Aaron Lecklider, associate professor of American Studies at U. Mass–Boston, tackles this aspect of American history and untangles a complicated story through sometimes oblique but always illuminating analysis.

            In the author’s words, the book revisits “a relationship often characterized as a series of misgivings, betrayals, dismal disappointments, and interpretive dead ends.” It explores this “counterhistory” by aligning political dissidence and sexual dissidence: “The act of joining a revolutionary party seeking to overthrow the government of the United States pushed against the boundaries of respectability, morality, and decency that governed American life. … Homosexuality was associated with a similar refusal to submit to American norms, creating discursive overlap between sexual dissidents and leftists that blurred the line separating one group from the other.”

            There are two things to note at the start.

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Michael Schwartz is an associate editor of this magazine.