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Gay and Lesbian Movement

Stephen Valocchi


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The gay and lesbian movement refers to the manifold collective efforts to benefit people with same-sex desire. Although an organized movement first appeared in Germany in the late nineteenth century, this effort was shortlived. The first sustained activities, organizations, and network building for the positive recognition of lesbians and gays and the improvement of their social and political conditions appeared in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s with the establishment of three organizations: the Mattachine Society, an organization for men which devoted itself mainly to social support in a climate of profound public hostility; the Daughters of Bilitis, an organization that concerned itself with the unique challenges of women with same-sex desire at a time when women were supposed to be dependent on men for economic and social support; and One Inc., which existed only as a monthly magazine and promoted the view that gay people, rather than psychiatrists or lawyers, are the most qualified to speak for themselves. With the exception of One Inc., these organizations stressed respectability and the desire to be accepted into mainstream society. In the 1960s, the gay and lesbian movement entered a new phase as social movements created a more militant climate for disenfranchised groups in the United States and forced the movement to shift its focus, strategy, and goals. Following ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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