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HIV/AIDS and the civil rights movement for the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered population

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Title:
HIV/AIDS and the civil rights movement for the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered population
Creator:
Shaw, Frank J
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
91 leaves : ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
AIDS (Disease) -- History -- United States ( lcsh )
AIDS (Disease) -- Social aspects -- United States ( lcsh )
Gay liberation movement -- United States ( lcsh )
AIDS (Disease) ( fast )
AIDS (Disease) -- Social aspects ( fast )
Gay liberation movement ( fast )
United States ( fast )
Genre:
History. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
History ( fast )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 89-91).
Thesis:
Political science
General Note:
Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
by Frank J. Shaw.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
49641725 ( OCLC )
ocm49641725
Classification:
LD1190.L64 2001m .S42 ( lcc )

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Full Text
HIV/AIDS AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT FOR THE
GAY/LESBIAN/BISEXUAL/TRANSGENDERED POPULATION
by
Frank J. Shaw
B.S., Weber State University, 1999
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science
2001


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Frank J. Shaw
has been approved
by
Anthony Robinson


Shaw, Frank J. (M.A., Political Science)
HIV/AIDS AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT FOR THE
GAY/LESBIAN/BISEXUAL/TRANSGENDERED POPULATION
Thesis directed by Assistant ProfessorAnna Sampaio
ABSTRACT
This thesis begins with an overview of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered
community in American society. The thesis introduces excerpts from interviews with
members of the GLBT community as they discuss their coming out as well as how
they have dealt with the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The thesis answers
questions about the significant events in the lives of those in the GLBT community
as they confronted the HIV/AIDS epidemic and what impact that epidemic had on
individuals as they became involved in the GLBT liberation movement. The research
for the thesis included interviews with members of the GLBT community in Salt Lake
City, Utah and Denver, Colorado. Interviews were initiated by use of a questionnaire
and expanded to a broader discussion of the interviewees personal experience.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
Signed_
m
Sampaio


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
L INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW............................................ 1
Purpose of the Study........................................ 1
Methods of Study ........................................... 4
The Study Sample.......................................... 7
Thesis Outline.............................................. 9
2. U, S. ATTITUDE TOWARD SEXUALITY................................. 13
The Victorian Influence.....................................13
Medical and Scientific Views Change........................ 15
A New Organization..........................................17
New Chapters, New Alliances...............................22
Stonewall Riot..............................................25
Attitudes in 20th Century America...........................29
San Francisco and West Coast Activism... ............... 29
A Controversial Court Action............................. 35
Legalization of Relationships............................ 36
The New Menace..............................................40
Escalating Activism.......................................43
3. COMING OUT-IN THEIR OWN WORDS................................. 47
Taking a Stand............................................. 47
Voices..................................................... 50
Family and Friends....................................... 50
Violence................................................. 56
Religion................................................. 58
Work.................................................... 59
Activism................................................. 62
Conclusion................................................ 63
4. GLBT REACTION TO HIV/AIDS........................................65
Mobilization................................................65
Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation..........................71
Summary.....................................................74
5. CONCLUSIONS..................................................... 78
IV


APPENDIX
A. INDIVIDUAL QUESTIONNAIRE...................... 83
B. AGENCY QUESTIONNAIRE.......................... 85
C. CONSENT FORM.................................. 87
D. GLOSSARY...................................... 88
REFERENCES......................................... 89
v


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
The ultimate goal is for us to have the same rights that others have, not
special rights, just the same, to be treated like everyone else. If my brother
gets to marry who he wants then I get to marry who I want as long as its
based on love. Thats what it comes down to. I would like us to be protected
because we are targeted just like blacks in the south, gays in America are a
targeted group including here in Utah. Gay bashing goes on and it needs to be
stopped. My forefathers were persecuted for being Mormons or for being
polygamists and they should know what its like. And I dont know why they
can turn around and do the same thing to us. I feel like Im being a pioneer
just like my ancestors.
These are the words of Cary (March 20, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah) who spoke for
himself but whose message echoed that of many who seek civil rights for all gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals.
Purpose of the Study
The intent of this study was to record the experiences of gay/lesbian/bisexual/
transgendered (GLBT) individuals as they sought to gain equal treatment under the
law. One component of this research was to determine the extent to which the
emergence of HIV/AIDS in the GLBT community was a contributing factor in the
decisions of individuals in that community to publicly acknowledge their sexuality and
to what extent it provided the motivation for their decisions to become involved in the
movement to gain civil rights for the GLBT population.
1


Gay men were among the first victims of this disease a latter day plague
which would become a flashpoint of feelings, attitudes, and responses in both the
homosexual and heterosexual segments of society. Initially the response among gay
men was fear and uncertainty as to both the cause and the extent of the illness.
This reaction was fueled in part by the thinking of some elements in society
who believed that the disease was a divine action against improper behavior. This
group held that what needed elimination was not the illness but rather the activity that
caused the spread of the disease.
Key questions needed to be answered: What could be done to prevent the
spread of the sickness? How soon and to what extent would the scientific and medical
professions focus their efforts on combating this virus? What would be the degree of
concern, support, and involvement by the government in mobilizing its agencies to aid
those affected? What would be the efforts of the media in publicizing the diseases
impact and informing the public about countering its spread? What would be the
response of the infected and their supporters in educating the heterosexual majority
who appeared unresponsive to this health care disaster? Could this attack upon the
health and well-being of gay men become a means to enlighten the heterosexual
society to the struggles and obstacles confronting the GLBT community in their
efforts to overcome discrimination and achieve their long-denied civil rights? These
were some of the questions this study sought to answer in microcosm.
2


In the history of civil rights, the issues central to those in the GLBT community
have been among the last to be addressed. They have also been some of the most
controversial, emotional, and divisive topics in todays political and religious
environment. Injustice against this community continues to be evidenced by legal
decisions that are unequally applied to heterosexual and homosexual populations,
religious practices that disallow members of the GLBT community to participate fully
in church ordinances, and the unequal advantages given to members of the
heterosexual community over those in the homosexual community in major social
institutions including marriage, family, and health care.
What is too infrequently evidenced by societal institutions is how little the
goals and treatment expected by heterosexuals differ from the expectations of gay men
and lesbians. The roots of these attitudes are buried deeply in American culture. The
perceptions of the GLBT community are frequently based upon misunderstanding,
intolerant judicial decisions, and stereotypical concepts of the community. The belief
of many opposed to equality for those in the GLBT community is that somehow the
recognition of equal status for them will diminish long held religious traditions
regarding sexuality.
The obstacles to obtaining civil rights for those in the GLBT community are
formidable and the prospects for success not very favorable. Paula L. Ettelbrick, in
her article Confronting Obstacles to Lesbian and Gay Equality, deduces that there
are two barriers to enactment of legislation to protect GLBT (Rothenberg, 2000,
3


p.498). They are, first, long-held opposition to gay men and lesbians, and second, a
generalized antagonism for more civil rights. These are the challenges facing those in
the GLBT community in their struggle to obtain equality.
Methods of Study
I decided to utilize a qualitative approach to this study that involved both a
questionnaire and a face-to-face interview. I posed a number of open-ended questions
to which the interviewees could respond in their own words. The focus of the
interview was to obtain the personal perspectives of the interviewees on a number of
questions: when they became aware of their sexual orientation, what circumstances
surrounded their coming out, what factors were significant in their becoming
involved in GLBT activism, and what impact HIV/A1DS had in their lives. Additional
questions sought to determine the status and future of the GLBT movement in their
community and any suggestions they had for additional individuals to interview.
A questionnaire was developed to obtain basic statistical data including
optional questions on age and racial/ethnic heritage. Other information included how
long the interviewee had resided in the city, the highest level of education achieved,
and total household income. The last optional question was how the interviewee
identified his or her own sexual orientation. To insure confidentiality, no individual
was identified by his or her own name; names in the study were changed to protect the
4


privacy of all interviewed. A consent form was read to all participants prior to
starting each interview and their signatures were obtained.
Data was collected in a series of interviews in Salt Lake City and Denver. The
selection of Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado was based on two factors.
One was that I had lived in both cities. During my residency in Utah, my wife was
Executive Director of The Utah AIDS Foundation. Her position gave me the
opportunity to serve for several years as a volunteer where I became more aware of
the plight of those in the GLBT community. I learned not only about the impact of the
virus on that community, but also about the struggle the community faced in gaining
equal treatment.
Secondly, since much has been researched and written about larger
metropolitan areas, most prominently San Francisco, California and New York City,
I concluded that two intermountain cities with approximately equal metropolitan
populations would provide an interesting study to add to the more commonly studied
cities.
The unique influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Salt
Lake City provided a different perspective since this dominant religion has permeated
not only all aspects of its adherents lives, but has also transcended the boundaries of
its faith to affect the lives of all state residents. Since Denver, Colorado does not have
a single faith religious influence, it provided a distinct contrast to the religious
hegemony found in Salt Lake City.
5


My extended volunteer tenure with the Utah AIDS Foundation provided
numerous contacts with individuals and agencies that could provide other contacts that
would prove beneficial in this study. In Denver, however, it was unclear in the
beginning whether there would be individuals willing to be open and honest in talking
with me. Also, since I was using the snowball technique, I knew I would have little
control over the demographic characteristics of those who participated in this study.
Interviewees included individuals from the GLBT community, representatives
of GLBT organizations and advocacy groups, staff members from health agencies
which serve the HIV/AIDS community, and leaders of religious institutions. The
sampling technique that I utilized was the snowball process in which interviewees
suggest others agreeable to being interviewed.
After reviewing the literature about homosexuality and about HIV/AIDS, I
became aware that I might find difficulty in getting members of the GLBT community
to trust me enough to share their true feelings. Since I was relatively unknown in the
GLBT community in Salt Lake City and completely unknown in this community in
Denver, I was concerned that some members of the community might not trust my
motives. While I expected that most would respond to the efforts of a graduate
student, there was a concern that some might be so distrustful of the system that
they would doubt my ability to maintain their anonymity. In addition, because of my
choice of the snowball technique in interviewing, there was the possibility that I would
have difficulty finding enough individuals to interview. However, neither of these
6


concerns were a reality as I found individuals very willing to share their own stories
and eager to introduce me to others.
I began by contacting directors of agencies that provide supportive services to
the GLBT community and asked their assistance in recruiting members of their staff
together with their suggestions of other possible interviewees. At least 15 individuals
were interviewed in each city including representatives of at least three agencies. In
Salt Lake City, Utah, I contacted The Utah AIDS Foundation, The People With AIDS
Coalition, The Center (GLBT Community Center), and the American Civil Liberties
Union. In Denver, Colorado, I met with The Colorado AIDS Project, The Denver
Department of Health, The People of Color Consortium Against AIDS (POCCA), and
the founding members of the Mattachine Society. This list was expanded as contacts
were established.
The Study Sample
The purpose of this study was to assess and analyze the thoughts, experiences,
and perspectives of members of the GLBT community and others in Salt Lake City,
Utah and Denver, Colorado who had supported that communitys efforts to achieve
equal treatment in society. Included were thoughts and circumstances that led to an
individuals coming out together with the reactions of family, friends, and associates,
and what impact HTV/AIDS had on their involvement in the GLBT civil rights
movement. .
7


To achieve this goal, I set out to interview a broad spectrum of individuals
who could provide diverse ethnic backgrounds, age groups, and educational and
income levels. I interviewed men and women in each city who self-identified as
heterosexual and who self-identified as homosexual. I anticipated that most of those
who were willing to be interviewed would be under the age of 40. I expected that the
influence of religion would be much stronger among interviewees in Salt Lake City
than in Denver. I believed that most interviewees would be knowledgeable about
HIV/AIDS and would have some awareness of what was happening in the GLBT
community regarding the struggle for civil rights. I also expected to find that
HTV/AIDS would be identified as a significant factor leading to involvement in the
GLBT movement for most of the interviewees.
At the end of the study, I found that the final sample included a wide range of
ages: 11% of respondents were between 18-34, 41% of respondents were between
35-45, 26% were between 46 65, and 22% were over the age of 65. This wide
range of ages provided an interesting perspective on the liberation movement since at
least 22% of respondents were active in the GLBT movement prior to the emergence
offflV/AIDS.
Even though the age distribution of respondents was varied, the respondents
were primarily Caucasian, 93%, with only 7% Hispanic and no respondents from any
other ethnic group. Since I used the snowball technique in sampling, the ethnicity of
respondents tended to reflect the first individuals interviewed. This was especially true
8


of interviews in Salt Lake City, Utah where the demographic make-up of the city is
largely Caucasian. It continued with the interviews in Denver; even with a more
diverse population, since the first respondents interviewed in Denver were long-time
acquaintances and over the age of 65, it reflected a mainly Caucasian group.
When analyzing the sample, I found that the distribution of interviewees by
household income was nearly equally divided: 19% of respondents had a total
household income below $25,000; 33% had income between $25,000 $35,000; 22%
had income between $35,000 $50,000; and 26% had income over $50,000. The
totals indicate that almost half of the respondents earned $35,000 or more annually.
The distribution of interviewees by education revealed that 56% of respondents
had a college degree with another 33% with at least some graduate study. The
remaining 7% had some college and 4% had a high school education.
According to respondents own self-identification, the final sample indicated
that 60% were gay, 7% were lesbian, and 33% were straight. None self-identified as
either bisexual or transgendered.
Thesis Outline
Chapter Two presents the evolving attitudes toward human sexuality,
beginning with the early concept that sexual intercourse was for the purpose of
procreation only and moving toward later concepts that describe pleasure and
eroticism as legitimate bases for sex. This progression introduces the reality of gay
9


and lesbian relationships, how society views those who practice homosexuality, and
the heterosexual majoritys efforts to deny equal rights to the GLBT population.
These issues are examined from the perspective of the religious, scientific, and legal
communities. The chapter traces the GLBT liberation movement from being passive
and fearful of exclusion from the larger society to becoming active in working to
establish organizations, networks, and strategies to accomplish their objectives of
equal civil rights with heterosexuals. The latter part of the chapter introduces the
emergence of HTV/AIDS.
Chapter Three seeks to personalize members of the GLBT community as the
interviewees describe the circumstances and individuals involved in their coming out
and to what extent the emergence of HTV/AIDS prompted their decision to reveal
their sexual orientation. Coming out involves the resolution of psychological,
emotional, and sexual considerations culminating in the acceptance of ones self. It is
the act of identifying with a group and taking a public position. Whereas members of
most minority groups are readily identified and discriminated against based on an
outwardly visible trait such as race, ethnicity, language, gender or disability, members
of the GLBT community must commit an overt act in order to identify with their
group. The participants describe the implications and consequences of acknowledging
their sexual orientation and how the revelation affected their relationships with family
and friends. They express their sentiments on the impact of religion in their lives and
how coming out meant they could no longer be active in their churches. The
10


decision might also result in loss of employment and possibly moving to a new
community.
Coming out is easier today and there are numerous support groups and
agencies available to make this transition less difficult, but it still remains a decision
fraught with many implications.
Chapter Four presents the interviewees thoughts, feelings, and actions in
response to the HTV/AIDS epidemic. It examines the techniques employed in creating
public awareness of the health care crisis and the strategies employed to engage
governmental and medical response to the HTV/AIDS epidemic.
To achieve their objectives, controversial and unorthodox methods were used
by some members of the GLBT community. Shock and confrontation became the
recognized tools used by ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). This chapter
also explores what extent the onset of HTV/AIDS played in GLBT activism as well as
what were perceived as positive aspects of the virus.
Chapter Five summarizes the findings of the interviews. The findings from the
interviews were not in accord with my initial expectations. History records that two
events were instrumental in the mobilization to attain GLBT civil rights efforts: the
Stonewall Riot and the H3V/AIDS epidemic. The degree to which HTV/AIDS was a
motivating influence for gay men and lesbians to become active in gay/lesbian
liberation was less than I anticipated. Long-standing discrimination and unequal
treatment were key issues for the majority of the interviewees.
11


This study was an enlightening experience for me. It provided me with the
opportunity to gain increased knowledge about the long held institutional factors that
stand against homosexual orientation while allowing me the chance to interact with
individuals and organizations that were instrumental in efforts to advance this cause.
Many of the individuals I met in both the GLBT and heterosexual populations had
been working for decades to gain GLBT civil rights. The interviewees in Salt Lake
City, Utah and Denver, Colorado provided me with insightful perspectives on the
emotional, familial, and political factors that gay men and lesbians faced in coming out,
in confronting the impact of HTV/AIDS, and initiating their involvement in the struggle
for GLBT civil rights.
My initial expectations were not frilly realized in the findings; this was due in
part to the greater age of many of the interviewees. Their efforts supporting GLBT
civil rights pre-dated both the Stonewall Riots and the onset of HTV/AIDS, the two
events most widely acknowledged as significant factors to mobilization.
12


CHAPTER TWO
U. S. ATTITUDE TOWARD SEXUALITY
The routine denial of civil rights to gays and lesbians reflects a powerful
prejudice, one so pervasive and so connected to everything else in society that
it is treacherously hard to isolate. Even when not activated into energetic
hostility, this prejudice is deeply rooted in and continually reaffirmed by the
rituals of family formation, child-rearing, ahd gender in our culture (Nava,
1994, p.4).
The Victorian Influence
This chapter provides a brief examination of twentieth century Americas
perspective of sexuality. It includes attitudes regarding the purposes of sexual
relationships, together with what was judged to be acceptable as well as unacceptable
behavior. With this background, the challenge for the GLBT community to overcome
discriminatory attitudes and push for equality is clear. It was into this environment
that gay and lesbian organizations emerged, organizations that encouraged members of
the GLBT community to acknowledge their orientation, take pride in their identity,
and begin to assert their desire for their long denied civil rights. But, along with the
new found activism and advocacy for their movement came the introduction of
HIV/AEDS that brought a new dynamic to their cause.
To understand the obstacles that confronted them, one must understand that
most examinations of sexuality are rooted solely in the context of heterosexuality.
Many aspects of Western and European history, tradition, and religious teaching are
13


founded upon the relationship between opposite sexes and the corresponding
construction of gender. The Victorian concept of true love consisted of marriage
and sex only for the reason of procreation (Rothenberg, 2000). For many, this formed
the only basis for sexual relations. Few aspects of an individuals life are as personal as
his or her sexual practices.
This Victorian belief system intentionally isolated countless individuals who
were drawn to others of the same sex or both sexes. Individuals who experienced this
attraction or acted upon it were subject to ridicule, assaults, imprisonment, and even
death. These views of people with a non-traditional sexual orientation extended well
into the nineteenth century when new social perspectives regarding sexuality were
introduced (Rothenberg, 2000).
The traditional and accepted familial arrangements, dating from the colonial
founding of this country, have been based upon relationships between members of the
opposite sex. The development of the country was predicated upon growth and
expansion, and an individuals wealth included the number of family members. The
more children one had, the greater the chances for success. The increase in population
was an essential ingredient in the emergence of the new country. The motivation for
numerous descendants, together with the belief that the sexual union of two people
was for the sole purpose of creation of offspring, heralded a strict lifestyle that ignored
a sexual relationship that had any other purpose. Any relationship that did not embody
the similar concepts was considered wrong. The body was simply considered a
14


mechanism by which procreation occurred, and pleasure was not part of the equation
(Rothenberg, 2000, p.67).
Medical and Scientific Views Change
In the mid to late nineteenth century a new concept emerged to define the
sexual relationship eroticism. Societal attitudes were changing; the Victorian belief
in a work ethic that placed high value on economic production and children was
changing to one of consumption and personal pleasure and gratification. The medical
and scientific community also played a key role in the changing perspective of male-
female relationships. Prior to this era, women who enjoyed sex were derided for their
feelings, but by the late nineteenth century physicians would ascribe a new medical
model of Normal Love, replete with a healthy libido (Rothenberg, p.70.).
Rothenberg (2000) relates that the end of the nineteenth century brought the
use of the term heterosexual for the first time in an article written by Dr. James G.
Kieman of Chicago when he presented a paper to a Chicago medical group. However,
his definition of heterosexual is not the meaning commonly understood today.1
Kieman determined that it was a psychical hermaphroditism that included
inclinations to both sexes. His article also included his use of the term
homosexual that he defined as having the general mental state of the opposite sex
(Rothenberg, 2000, p.70).
1 See the Glossary for current definitions.
15


The year of Dr. Kiemans publication (1892) brought the introduction of Dr,
Krafft-Ebings Psychopathia Sexualis A Seminal Work which provided an expanded
definition that would become the measure of sexual relationships. In this work,
sexuality was defined not simply as procreation but also as relating to pleasure.
Krafft-Ebings positioning of the heterosexual relationship remains the basis from
which variations in sexual behavior are measured even today.
Krafft-Ebing theorized an inborn sexual instinct for relations with the
opposite sex, the inherent purpose of which was to foster procreation (Rothenberg,
2000, p.71). He believed that an erotic desire was still a reproductive instinct This
conclusion marked the demarcation from a long-held standard that procreation was the
only justification for a sexual relationship. After Krafft-Ebing, sexual relations would
no longer be seen to be confined to reproduction.
The post-World War II years brought renewed attention to the sexual
experience. A landmark publication, Alfred Kinseys Sexual Behavior in the Human
Male (1948), brought controversy and discussion to the publics attention. Among the
issues raised in its work was the question of normality and abnormality in sexual
relations, together with the revelation that homosexual contacts were more frequent
than previously thought. Kinseys work brought to an end the popular conclusion that
there was a clearly defined separation between homosexuality and heterosexuality.
What had previously been considered a black versus white issue now took on shades
of gray in regard to sexual identity.
16


The findings by Kinsey brought into question many of the previously held
conclusions regarding what was considered normal and abnormal sexual behavior,
and also questioned the necessity of retaining the terms in the scientific vocabulary
(Rothenberg, 2000, p.74). Just as controversial was his questioning of the commonly
held conclusion that human beings represent two discrete populations, heterosexual
and homosexual (Rothenberg, 2000, p.74). Kinseys conclusion was that human
beings could not be divided into two groups that were exclusively homosexual or
heterosexual, but that there were gradations within sexual orientation. And, while it
was not simply a matter of heterosexual or homosexual, this decision was not natures
identification, but rather one of human categorization.
A New Organization
Into this new era would come organizations that would support the GLBT
community. One of the first organizations in America to organize gay men was
founded in 1950 by Harry Hay in Los Angeles, California. He named it the Mattachine
Society. He took the name from a French medieval and Renaissance Societe
Machine, a masked musical group, because his contention was that gay men were
also masked in society (Dynes, 1990, p.779).
Not long after its founding, the Mattachine Society had its first successful civil
rights effort. In early 1952, a founding member of the group was entrapped by police
officers. Almost immediately he called a meeting of the Society and the decision was
17


made to create a group designated the Citizens Committee to Outlaw Entrapment that
would also publicize the details of the incident. The group was unable to get the
attention of the media and instead used printed materials that they distributed in areas
known to have large homosexual populations. Subsequently, when a trial was
scheduled, he admitted his homosexuality, but also repudiated the facts of his arrest.
After lengthy deliberation, the jury could not reach a verdict and the charges were
dropped. The vigor and determination of the group in fighting the charge brought
significant recognition to the organization (Dynes, 1900).
The Societys growing support motivated Hay to form a nonprofit educational
organization, the purpose of which was to do research on homosexuality aid use the
results as part of a educational campaign for homosexual rights (Dynes, 1990,
p.780). Hay and the small group of associates were either Communist party members
or members of other known leftist organizations. Since they were influenced by the
political climate of the time, they created a cell-like group with secret meetings. In
time, however, the ties between the leaders of the Mattachine Society and the
Communist Party became a serious impediment to the viability of the efforts of the
Society tp grow and extend its influence. Since many Americans held strong
convictions concerning the more subversive elements of the Communist party, this
association would have an ongoing deleterious impact on the organization (DEmilio,
1983).
18


The emergence of the McCarthy era finally forced Hay and the other founders
of the Society to resign from their positions in the Mattachine Society. In November,
1953, new leadership was installed and a new approach adopted. The societys
founders publicly disavowed their former ties with the Communist party and the
organization tried to accomplish its objectives by working only through respected
individuals and organizations. The consequences of this change in the direction of the
organization were catastrophic since the Society became a gay organization in name
only. Since the revised philosophical position adopted by the new leadership urged
members to align with the mores of society and their lifestyle was at odds with
societys mores, there was no longer any reason to belong to the Society and
membership dropped (DEmilio, 1983).
Though the Mattachine Societys mission was to champion the cause of
homosexual civil rights, it did not actively recruit lesbians into the organization. Thus
lesbian representation, which was always a minority, dropped to mere token numbers.
The low point for the Society came when it denied that it was an organization of
homosexuals (DEmilio, 1983, p.87). This announcement repudiated the original
mission of the Society to support homosexual civil rights, denied its reason for
existence, and eliminated the primary reason for gay men and lesbians to join the
organization.
A counter force to the lack of perceived militancy by the Mattachine Society
was the magazine, One, founded in Los Angeles in 1953, by Dale Jennings and Chuck
19


Rowland, founding members of the Society. As they became more disillusioned with
the new direction the Society was taking, they created the magazine to uphold a
philosophy which instilled pride in being gay or lesbian. Their position was that those
who knew the most about gay/lesbian issues were gays and lesbians themselves. The
magazines pages were filled with articles that led to public debate, especially the
articles which focused on the treatment of gay men. The magazine became an open
forum for gays and lesbians to express pride and opinion about their identity during the
1950s (DEmilio, 1983, p.87).
The 1950s also saw the establishment of the first lesbian political organization,
the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). This name was taken from an erotic poem entitled
Songs of Bilitis which was a significant work for lesbians; to the general public,
however, its name sounded like that of a mainstream womens organization. Using the
Mattachine Society as a model, they soon joined forces with it and the publishers of
One and worked in a cooperative relationship throughout the 1950s. Though there
existed a close relationship with the Mattachine Society, the DOBs focused on the
major problems confronting women, which included their greater isolation and
invisibility. Their publication, The Ladder, was directed at this segment of women,
especially those residing outside metropolitan areas. The two groups were together
throughout the 1950s though The Ladder was published in San Francisco and One
was printed in Los Angeles. This relationship was based on two considerations: both
20


organizations were small and they believed that one publication could protect the other
(Cruikshank, 1992).
During the 1950s, the efforts of these groups to establish chapters throughout
the United States met with little success and membership in these organizations
remained minimal. Due to their limited membership, their yearly convention became a
highlight for the movements. In 1950, the Mattachine Society decided to schedule its
annual convention in Denver, Colorado, the only occasion on which it was held
outside of California or New York (DEmilio, 1983).
A man calling himself Carl Harding, founder of the Denver chapter of the
Mattachine Society (whom I later interviewed), was the driving force behind arranging
the Denver convention, and he decided to break from the past by having a press
conference. During the press conference, photographs were taken of the officers of
the Mattachine Society who were later identified in the newspaper by their real names.
The convention received excellent coverage in The Denver Post, with three articles
that quoted from the participants at length and treated the homophile movement fairly
and seriously (DEmilio, 1983, p.120). However, not all public reaction was
favorable. The openness of the convention would have disastrous results for many.
Colorado legislator Robert Allen accused the Denver Vice Squad of being all too
often the most ignorant in matters of sexual behavior (DEmilio, 1983, p.120).
What went unnoticed during the convention was the attendance of two morals
officers who reported to the police and, subsequently, another member of the group
21


was arrested for violating Denvers antipomography law because he had photographs
of nude men in his possession. Subsequently, the man was jailed and discharged from
his job. The negative publicity together with the identification of other members of the
organization resulted in a reduced membership that was never replaced (DEmilio,
1983).
The early 1960s saw continued fragmentation of the Society as a bicoastal
rivalry developed between the New York and San Francisco chapters. New York was
the largest chapter of the organization and it alleged that the California group had
mismanaged the financial affairs of the organization and subsequently requested that
the national board dissolve the organization, leaving each group to fend for itself
(DEmilio, 1983, p. 123). The New York chapter continued as an independent
organization, maintaining its name and ignoring protests from the San Francisco
chapter.
New Chapters, New Alliances
The start of the 60s saw the emergence of a new personality dedicated to gay
and lesbian activism. Franklin Kameny proved to be a significant actor in this period
when he was dismissed from government service for an arrest for lewd conduct prior
to his employment. As an openly gay male astronomer with a doctorate from Harvard,
he fought his separation in court for two-and-one-half years but ultimately lost his
appeal. During the appeals process, he determined that a group fighting for gay and
22


lesbian rights would be more effective than an individual seeking the same objective.
Equipped with impeccable academic credentials and intellectual ability, he was
determined to use a proactive approach rather than the neutrality practiced by the
movement in the 1950s. Kameny stated, It is absolutely necessary to be prepared to
take definite, unequivocal positions upon supposedly controversial matters (DEmilio,
1983, p.152).
Kameny became a prime mover in the Mattachine Societys Washington D.C.
chapter. The focus of the organizations ire was the government, especially the Civil
Service Commission, and its discriminatory policies that forced homosexuals out of
Pentagon positions, together with their expulsion from the military.
The aftermath of the Washington chapters challenging of government policies
toward homosexuals soon attracted the attention of the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU). In a ground breaking case, the organization was joined by the ACLU
in supporting the case of Bruce Scott who was denied employment based upon
convincing evidence of homosexual conduct (DEmilio, 1983, p.155). The U. S.
Court of Appeals ruled that the allegations against Scott were too vague to disqualify
him from federal employment, thus providing gay men and lesbians with their first
favorable decision in this important area (Scott v, Macy, 349 F. 2d 182 1965).
In this landmark case, two organizations, the Mattachine Society and the
ACLU, collaborated to champion the cause of civil rights for gay men and lesbians.
Other practices challenged by the Washington D.C. chapter of the Mattachine Society
23


included the harassment of gay men by the District of Columbia police. Complaints by
the chapter in conjunction with those of the ACLU resulted in a change in the manner
in which gay men would be treated by the department in the future (DEmilio, 1983,
p.156).
New York was where another activist became a catalyst for civil rights. In
1961, Randy Wicker, who had previously been involved in activism at the University
of Texas, was frustrated with the policies of the local chapter of the Mattachine
Society and left the organization to establish the Homosexual League of New York.
In what was a fortuitous circumstance for him, a radio broadcast in 1962 featured
participation of homosexuals and psychiatrists in a forum about homosexuality.
Following the controversial broadcast, Wicker was able to use his new-found celebrity
to persuade several publishers to print articles on the homosexual movement. He was
also successful in providing material for a major series on sex and the law for the
New York Post (DEmilio, 1983, p.159).
The consciousness-raising publicity for the gay/lesbian civil rights movement
by Wicker and Kameny resulted in a meeting in January 1963 in Philadelphia. They
gathered representatives from four groups: DOB, the Mattachine Chapters from
Washington and New York, and the Janus Society from Philadelphia (the reorganized
Mattachine Society chapter). As a result of the meeting, a coalition was formed
known as the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO). This organization
attracted many activists who were responsible for developing a communications
24


network among several chapters of the Mattachine Society. The expressed objectives
were to increase the militancy of the chapters while creating a closer collaboration
among the groups (DEmilio, 1983).
By 1965 the activists objectives included eliminating the medical professions
practice of classifying homosexuality as an illness. This assertiveness, combined with a
desire to begin public picketing for gay rights, resulted in an internal rift between the
activists and those who were reluctant to use confrontational techniques. The activist
approach won out, and the group proved very beneficial in coordinating the militant
segment of the gay/Iesbian movement over the next several years.
The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not bring a halt to all forms of
discrimination, rather ... discrimination based upon sexual orientation of the subject
was upheld by the courts as a right to eliminate immoral persons from the workforce
or from housing (Dynes, 1990, p.321). Not until the 1970s were some anti-
discrimination statutes passed, and it is only in recent history that some of the most
onerous forms of legal discrimination against GLBT (i.e., sodomy statues, ban of gay
marriages) have been impacted.
Stonewall Riot
One of the most significant events in galvanizing both activists and members of
the GLBT community both in New York and across the country in the 1960s was the
Stonewall Riot. On June 28, 1969, New York City police raided an after-hours gay
25


gathering place, the Stonewall Bar. In previous situations, patrons had simply
dispersed, but on this occasion, the bar patrons locked the police inside the bar and
began to riot until reinforcements arrived. For three nights, gay men and lesbians
continued to march through the streets of New York City in their efforts to protest
what they saw as discrimination by the police (Alwood, 1996).
This raid was not an isolated police action. The gay community was aware
that it was an election year, and if the past was an indicator, the police would again
target gay men as election day neared. The police department continued its history of
removing those they saw as unsavory individuals from the streets in order to
maintain a safer environment for the law-abiding citizens. The department
announced that its efforts were in conjunction with the courts in seeking this objective.
This was evidenced earlier in the year in newspaper reports. The New York Times
published a story in February reporting that, The police began a crackdown on
drunks, homosexuals, loiterers, and other undesirables in Times Square last night
(Alwood, 1996, p.80). To keep the pressure on, the Times' editorial of February 17
urged the police to persist in controlling muggers and degenerates (Alwood, 1996,
p.87). It was clearly evident from the editorial slant of the newspaper that it equated
homosexuals with criminals. There were more police raids on gay bars in early June
and harassment continued until it reached the point where a New York City statute
was passed that required everyone to wear a minimum of three articles of clothing
26


appropriate to ones gender (Alwood, 1996, p.82). This ongoing harassment of gay
men reached a climax in late June.
Although some gay activists attempted to build a social movement well before
the 1960s, it was the 1969 rebellion at New Yorks Stonewall Bar that first caught
public attention and inspired the modem gay rights movement (Rimmerman, p.3).
This raid by police on a gay bar became a symbol of discrimination, violence, and
resistance that evolved into the basis of a new pride and self-confidence for gay men.
This attack at the Stonewall Bar would not be the last incident between the police and
gay men. The next evening the police again returned to the area where another ugly
confrontation occurred. This was followed by two more police raids within a three
day period (Alwood, 1996, p. 86).
The Stonewall Riot of the late 1960s was more than an attack on a gay bar. It
became the launching pad of a new vitalization of gays and lesbians who would
borrow from the techniques of the civil rights movement. Militant groups were
organized such as the Gay/Lesbian Front, The Third World Gay Revolution, and The
Radicalesbians. They held a new image of themselves one of pride with more
strident tactics aimed at gaining recognition and publicity and determination to gain
their civil rights. The members of the community began to see themselves in a
different light, proud of their orientation and willing to take public stands and engage
in civil disobedience regarding the discrimination perpetrated against them
(Rimmerman, 2000).
27


This situation has much in common with the activism that was later created by
the attack of HTV/AIDS in the GLBT community. The community was under attack
although the focus was different, one was physical attack by a known source the
police and the second was physical attack from an unknown source the virus. Both
crises were evidence that gay men and lesbians would no longer simply be non-
reactive.
In the wake of Stonewall, gay and lesbian activists borrowed from other
militant groups such as the New Left and the Black Power movement, to form their
own organizations. More confrontational and strident than previous groups, they
organized sit-ins in the offices of media that presented perspectives of gay men and
lesbians only in a negative light. They picketed and protested meetings of psychiatrists
who equated gay with sick. For them, it was paramount for individuals to come out of
the closet and become visible in every segment of society as the first step in gaining
freedom. They were also alert to language which unequally dealt with sexuality
depending upon whether or not it was heterosexuality or homosexuality and insisted
that such discrimination was a form of injustice (Rimmerman, 2000).
Once these organizing efforts began, their growth was rapid. On the eve of
Stonewall... there were perhaps fifty gay and lesbian social organizations in the
United States. By 1973, four years after Stonewall, there were over eight hundred
(DEmilio, 1983, p.35).
28


This new self-image was an important ingredient in laying the groundwork for
their efforts to achieve gay/lesbian civil rights. According to DEmilio (1983), prior to
Stonewall, gay men and lesbians tended to adopt one of two approaches to social
change: (1) the reform of laws, public policies, and institutional practices so that
lesbians and gay men enjoyed fair and equal treatment, and/or (2) the building of
institutions designed to create a strong, cohesive and visible community (DEmilio,
1983, p.36). However, with the mounting harassment of gay men and lesbians and
particularly its intensification at Stonewall, a new era of GLBT activism would be
ushered in one which centered on the assertion of an oppositional political and
personal position.
The harassment of gay men and lesbians by the authorities could be validated
for many on the basis of religious and philosophical considerations. The rationale
behind these actions and the failure of both government and societal agencies to
protect this population was the second class status accorded gay men and lesbians.
Attitudes in 20th Century America
San Francisco and West Coast Activism
No attempt to explore the activism of the gay/lesbian civil rights movement is
complete without consideration of the influence of San Francisco and its gay
subculture. Two factors were important to the dynamic west coast movement: the
29


North Beach area of the city and the literati who presented their works which
protested societys attitude toward homosexuality. The writers of the beat culture
would produce numerous works that took stands against the prevailing values of the
middle class especially their stance on homosexuality (DEmilio, 1983, p. 180).
In 1964 several gay activists, along with some individuals frustrated by the
inadequate progress of gay/lesbian civil rights, agreed that there was a need for a
politically effective organization. It was called the Society for Individual Rights (SIR).
This organization would be the west coast counterpart of ECHO. The organization
pledged itself to a democratic process that would include all expressions of the
homosexual community (DEmilio, 1983, p.190).
To achieve this objective required including the bar scene as an integral
segment of organizational process. Gay bars were environments where gay men and
lesbians could congregate and socialize with their peers. The bars offered a variety of
social opportunities from dances to recreational activities to cultural events, all as a
means of creating increased membership. Additionally, to meet the needs of the gay
community, the organization operated a thrift shop and, in 1966, established the first
gay community center in the United States in San Francisco (DEmilio, 1983, p.191).
In a little over two years, membership grew to nearly 1000 making it the
largest gay/lesbian rights organization in the United States. Central to the success of
SIR was the realization that bars and taverns were important in the lives of gay men
30


which led to their subsequent use to raise the political consciousness of the group
(DEmilio, 1983).
The late 60s saw an explosion of growth in the working class area of the
Eureka Valley surrounding 18th and Castro Streets in San Francisco. Two factors
were responsible for the appeal: one was that many city residents had moved to the
suburbs during the late 50s leaving many unoccupied homes, and, secondly, that many
of the available homes were attractive Victorian-styled dwellings. The majority of
newcomers were gay men or gay couples with high incomes. Their arrival brought a
change in the make-up of the neighborhood and their influence on the politics,
philosophy, culture and economy of the area would soon be felt. It would not be long
before the neighborhood would be renamed The Castro (Stein, 1998). From this
enclave came political, financial, and cultural influences that would have a long-lasting
impact on the San Francisco political scene.
Unlike the civil rights movement in the African American community, prior to
the 1960s involvement by the religious community had been absent from the GLBT
liberation movement. However, as the emerging civil rights movement grew, clergy,
especially young black ministers, were becoming sensitized to gay/Iesbian concerns. In
the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, the minister of the Glide Memorial Methodist
Church, Reverend A. Cecil Williams, realized the need to minister to this growing
population of gay men which was suffering from social injustice. To assist him he
brought a youthful social worker/minister, Ted Mcllvenna, from Kansas City to the
31


gay community. Mcllvenna began an outreach program to the gay male population
and was soon accepted as a regular speaker at meetings within the community
(DEmilio, 1983, p.193). Along with Mcllvennas efforts, Rev. Williams was
subsequently able to enlist the participation of other ministers in his work to achieve
social justice for gay men and lesbians.
After Stonewall, many activists became involved in politics and sought to enact
laws and ordinances that would protect gay men and lesbians. Button, Rienzo, and
Wald posit that big cities and university towns were where the majority of GLBT
political organizations were most active. These organizations assisted in the
enactment of gay rights laws in Berkeley and Palo Alto, California; Ann Arbor and
East Lansing, Michigan; and Madison, Wisconsin. Major cities that developed laws to
protect individuals because of their sexual orientation included San Francisco, Detroit,
Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. (Rimmerman, 2000).
In the west, California gay men and lesbians were also experiencing opposition
in the form of a proposed initiative that would have many subsequent incarnations.
The 1978 proposal, known as the Briggs Initiative or Proposition 6, would require any
school to discharge a known homosexual or any instructor who discussed
homosexuality in a positive light in the classroom. This threat to teachers and gay men
and lesbians led them to marshall a statewide coalition to defeat this dangerous
initiative. Though initially destined for passage, a broad-based coalition of groups
32


with diverse political views came to the support of the gay/lesbian community and was
able to defeat the discriminatory proposition (Cruikshank, 1992, p.73).
Soon to follow would be an event that focused worldwide attention on San
Francisco and the plight of the GLBT population. On November 27, 1978, Harvey
Milk, the first openly gay individual elected to office in a large city, was murdered.
His death brought an outpouring of grief not only from the GLBT community but
among non-gays as well, a grief that resulted in a candlelight march to City Hall. The
murder of Milk became a galvanizing event in the history of the GLBT struggle to gain
civil rights. The verdict and sentence brought against his killer was for many almost as
outrageous as the act itself: guilty of manslaughter with a sentence of seven years.
The emotions raised by this decision led to 5000 gay men marching to City Hall to
protest this injustice and demand reforms in the citys treatment of all minorities
(Cruikshank, 1992, p.74).
This event also raised the stakes for anyone coming out. No longer was the
issue only legal discrimination. Now the price for identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual,
or transgendered could also be physical attack and even death. The GLBT community
had reason to be fearful and the fear was brought on by the supporters of the
homophobic Briggs who exhorted his sympathizers to state their hatred for gay men
and lesbians. There was even concern that gay bars and the offices of the Gay
National Educational Switchboard might be bombed (Cruikshank, 1992).
33


The traditions of the past were being confronted by the expectations of the
future. This movement was being driven in part by a divergent group that were no
longer impressed or guided by mainstream values. The consequences of these actions
would be to set themselves against not only the American government, but most
forms of institutional authority (Rimmerman, 2000, p.35).
The members of the GLBT community have lifestyles and relationships that
have much in common with heterosexual familial arrangements. Gay men and lesbians
live with their children from prior heterosexual relationships or with children they have
adopted. Many forego coming out and continue to live in heterosexual marriage
relationships. Schaffer cited a Health and Social Life Survey that found that nearly
three percent of men and one-and-one-half percent of women stated they identified at
some degree as a homosexual or bisexual (Schaffer, 2001, p.365).
This did not mean that the GLBT movement did not have its opponents and it
was important for the GLBT movement to break the tyranny of existing laws that
discriminated again them. This could only be accomplished by challenging them in the
courts.
The 1960s brought a new awareness that produced debate, reflection, heated
passions, injury, divisiveness and polarization in the struggle for civil rights by gay men
and lesbians. The willingness of many individuals to support the efforts of women and
African Americans to gain equality stopped short of those seeking the same objectives
34


based upon sexual orientation. One of the key components of this new movement was
confronting discrimination via court challenges.
A Controversial Court Action
In a landmark decision Bowers v. Hardwick 478 U.S., 186, 106 S.CT. 2841
(1986), the majority held moreover, any claim that these cases nevertheless stand for
the proposition that any kind of private sexual conduct between consenting adults is
constitutionally insulated from state proscription is unsupportable (OBrien, 1997,
p. 1192).
What was at issue in the case was whether an individuals fundamental right of
privacy relating to sexual acts conducted in private was violated by Georgia law. One
of the individuals involved, Michael Hardwick, was arrested. Although the local
prosecutor did not wish to prosecute, Hardwick decided to challenge the state law.
The basis of the Georgia law was that it held unlawful either homosexual or
heterosexual oral sex. Ultimately the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision written by
Justice Byron White that the state did have the authority to create such a law. The
rationale of the majority held that there did not exist a fundamental right to privacy
when extended to homosexual sodomy {Harvard Law Review, 1989, p.12).
The mind set of the high courts majority was strongly expressed in the opinion
by Chief Justice Warren Burger when he stated that homosexuality was an offense of
35


deeper malignity than rape, a heinous act the very mention of which is a disgrace to
human nature, and a crime not fit to be named (Rimmerman, 2000, p.392).
As crucial and telling as the decision of the court was in this case, the portent
for future deliberations on GLBT civil rights created a pall on the community. The
repercussions from future appeals to existing laws could provide increased validity for
opponents of gay rights if they were denied by the court.
Fewer aspects of life are more important to an individual than the right to
privacy. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissent, for an individual the
constitutional right of privacy embodies the moral fact that a person belongs to
himself and not others nor to society as a whole (Nava, 1994, p.59).
The decision in Bowers v. Hardwick had a devastating impact for gay men and
lesbians in their efforts to achieve equal treatment via the legal process. Aware of the
philosophy of the Supreme Court justices and the anti-homosexual attitude of many in
society, activists were reluctant to bring additional appeals to the courts that could
result in additional unfavorable decisions. In addition, AIDS was developing into a
health care crisis that diverted attention from litigation.
Legalization of Relationships
One of the greatest concerns for homosexual couples remains the prohibition
against legally recognized same-sex marriages. This failure to have their marriages
recognized means that couples in the GLBT community cannot receive benefits
36


associated with marriage. In an effort to overcome this discrimination, GLBT
advocacy groups have pushed for recognition of domestic partnerships. A domestic
partnership may be defined as two unrelated adults who reside together, agree to be
jointly responsible for their dependents, basic living expenses, and other common
necessities, and share a mutually caring relationship. Domestic partnership benefits
can apply to such areas as inheritance, parenting, pensions, taxation, housing,
immigration, workplace fringe benefits, and health care (Schaefer, 2001, p.365).
The efforts to gain recognition of domestic partnerships, however, still face
strong opposition from conservative groups, both religious and political, who feel that
adoption of such partnerships would undermine the traditional nuclear family. Yet
while those who support domestic partnerships argue that they fulfil the same
functions as the more traditional family structure and should receive the same benefits,
a 1998 General Social Survey revealed that 58 percent of respondents believe that
homosexuality between two adults is always wrong while fully 28 percent feel it is not
wrong. Sharp divisions in public opinion persist (Schaefer, 2001, p.365).
Integral to gay and lesbian progress in civil rights beginning in the mid-1970s
was the necessity to reform existing laws. One symptom of this status was the almost
universal practice of American states and local communities to criminalize gay
sexual conduct under anti-sodomy codes (Rimmerman, 2000, p.9). The impact of
37


such legislation is not an historical relic.2
To combat this condition, organizations were founded for the purpose of
utilizing litigation to correct the injustices of the past. Two key groups established in
1973 were the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Gay Task
Force. What was developing among gay men and lesbians was an involvement in
activities and organizations that was virtually non-existent prior to Stonewall. Not
only was the visibility higher for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered
community, but changes were occurring in long-established thinking and political
involvement (Rimmerman, 2000).
This new activism was fueled in part by the prior mobilization and progress
made by other minority groups in society seeking their long denied equal treatment
under the law. This new awareness had its root in the concept that gay is good
(Cruikshank, 1992, p.60). Gay and lesbian pride began to emerge as a source of
strength and motivation in their efforts to achieve a new societal identity. Not only
were gay men and lesbians gaining a new attitude about themselves, but concurrently
society was experiencing a change especially among the younger generation. A new
freedom regarding sexuality had arrived. No longer would gay men and lesbians be
content to suffer abuse and discrimination silently. Cruikshank (1992) notes that in the
early 70s gay is good was more than just a phrase; it was rather a new position to an
2"Despite widespread repeal of anti-sodomy statutes in the 1970s, private sexual conduct
between adults of the same gender remains a criminal act in twenty states (Rimmerman,
2000, p.9).
38


old reality. It renounced previous concepts that homosexuality was wrong because
someone said it was. The efforts towards civil rights progress would become the fuel
for further coordinated efforts.
A most significant decision occurred when activists succeeded in persuading
the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 to eliminate homosexuality from its list
of mental disorders; two years later, the federal Civil Service Commission dropped its
blanket ban on the employment of lesbians and gay men (and).. in 1980 the
Democratic Party included a gay rights plank in its national platform (DEmilio,
1983, p.37).
The affects of Bowers v. Hardwick are still felt since ... as of 2000, 10 states,
the District of Columbia, and more than 165 cities and counties in the United States
have adopted civil rights laws protecting lesbians and gay men against discrimination
in such areas as employment, housing, and public accommodations (Schaefer, 2001,
p.365).
What was apparent for gay men and lesbians was that there was not so much
the need for privacy as much as there was a need for secrecy. The acknowledgment of
ones true identity and behavior could become the cause for censure and loss of rights.
What the decisions represented to gay men and lesbians was that clearly they were not
afforded equal treatment under the law.
This was the dilemma that confronted many: whether to continue to lead a
lifestyle that did not acknowledge their sexual orientation or make the decision to
39


come out when this personal decision was not just a public statement, but also a
political one. Each individual had to weigh the security afforded by not making a
public declaration and avoiding the consequences of such an announcement against the
injustice being meted out against members of the GLBT community. Knowing that
the consequences of coming out could include harassment, employment difficulties,
negative reactions by family and friends, and possible loss of church membership had
to be considered in the light of continued and long-standing harassment by authorities,
unjust court decisions, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the need for integrity found in
being true to ones self. Many responded to this challenge, many others decided to
maintain the status quo.
The New Menace
Into the midst of this heated political/social arena would come a new
dimension: the first known case of AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) in
the United States was recorded in 1981.3 Since the first reported case in the United
States, over 1,500,000 Americans have been diagnosed as infected by HIV. For a
variety of reasons, these numbers represent only the identified cases; the actual number
of infected cases is unknown (Utah AIDS Foundation, 1995).
3The disease known as AIDS is the result of the destruction of immune cells by HTV
(Human Immunodeficiency Virus) which prevents the body from fighting infection and
certain types of cancer (citation)
40


This devastating virus attacked and spread quickly through the gay and
bisexual community. It was apparent from the onset of the illness that the mainstream
media and government ignored it. The ineffectual response to Acquired Immuno-
Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) by government authorities sent a strong message that
homosexuals were not politically important. When AIDS first appeared in the United
States, the majority of those infected were known to be members of the gay
community. This connection lead to the disease first being identified as GRID -
Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (Rimmerman, 2000). This name was widely used in
the national media to report on the disease as the epidemic grew and made most non-
gay individuals feel safe from the virus.
Before October 7, 1985, the day that Rock Hudson died, little attention had
been paid to the deadly ailment in mainstream heterosexual communities. As the first
well known person to die of AIDS, his death brought worldwide attention. It became
a topic of discussion and entered mainstream consciousness. The tragedy was that by
the time society took notice of the disease, it had already extracted a frightful toll.
However, by that date some 12,000 Americans were already dead or dying of AIDS
and hundreds of thousands more were infected with the virus that caused the disease
(Shilts, 1987, p. xxi).
The first chronicler of the devastation brought by the AIDS onslaught was
Randy Shilts in his classic work And the Band Played On (1987). IBs testament to the
inattention of much of the American public and the media was illustrated by the
41


reluctance of mainstream newspapers to cover the epidemic. As early as 1981 a
reporter from the Wall Street Journal wrote an article discussing an illness affecting
homosexuals. However, the editors did not feel the article merited publication and
refused to publish the piece. Only later when the virus attacked heterosexual drug
users was the reporter able to get the article published (Shilts, 1987, p. 126).
This general public apathy toward this disease and the individuals it affected
created a totally different reaction in the gay and lesbian community. It brought many
gay men and lesbians out of the closet, as the life-and-death nature of the epidemic
overcame the fear of coming out and led to renewed cooperation among lesbians and
gay men. This critical time provided a more visible platform for lesbians and gays of
color to mobilize resources and build organizations of their own to fight AIDS
(Cruikshank, 1992, p.75).
One of the most outspoken AIDS activists and voices of rage against the
inertia of the society in responding to the health care crisis was Larry Kramer. A
tireless crusader, he wrote and spoke constantly about the American AIDS epidemic in
the early 1980s. Many consider his article, 1112 and Counting (1983), to be one of
the most significant and frightening statements made regarding the AIDS epidemic. It
began, If this article doesnt scare the shit out of you, were in real trouble. If this
article doesnt rouse you to anger, fury, rage, and action, gay men may have no future
on this earth. Our continued existence depends on just how angry you can get.. .
Unless we fight for our lives, we shall die. In all the history of homosexuality we have
42


never before been so close to death and extinction. Many of us are dying or already
dead (Kramer, 1994, p. 33).
Later in the article, Kramer detailed the magnitude of the health care crisis
when he stated, and for the first time in this epidemic, leading doctors and researchers
are finally admitting they dont know whats going on. I find this terrifying too as
terrifying as the alarming rise in numbers. For the first time, doctors are saying out
loud and up front, I dont know (Kramer, 1994, p.34).
Escalating Activism
The indifference of the government and the media led to a renewed activism
among gay men and lesbians and the creation of ACT UP (ADDS Coalition to Unleash
Power), a highly confrontational and vociferous organization dedicated to alerting the
country to the health care crisis presented by AIDS. ACT UP brought a new
dimension to methods employed in seeking the movements objectives. ACT UPs
organizational philosophy, strategies, and tactics differed in important ways from other
SMOs (social movement organizations) that emerged in response to the AIDS
epidemic ... (Freeman, 1999, p.135).
ACT UP used a confrontational style that was in your face. They displayed
safe sex banners at athletic contests, wrapped buildings in red tape to signify the
reluctance of government to become involved with HIV/AIDS, and painted outlines of
43


human figures on the streets in the Castro District to remind people of the number
who had lost their lives to the virus (Cruikshank, 1992).
For many, the methods used by ACT UP were considered unconventional.
There was a determined effort to escape the formality and traditional concepts in its
crusade to snap the public indifference to this deadly disease and mobilize
governmental and medical efforts to seek a cure for what had incorrectly been
perceived as a gay disease (Freeman, 1999).
The term radical could be applied to ACT UP in almost any criteria used to
describe the organization. A non-bureaucratic structure was the basis of the
organization. There were no designated leadership positions, and no written
constitution. In its place was a working document that described the purposes of the
different committees, election procedures, funding, and methods for organizing
protests and direct action (Freeman, 1999, p.140). Members of any such social
movement know that it is necessary to mobilize resources and use them to their
benefits in order to gain ... political influence, access to the media, and workers
(Schaefer, 2001, p.567). The growth of ACT UP helped a fledgling social movement
in the GLBT community find these resources.
The ultimate objective of ACT UP was to achieve treatment for all people
suffering from HIV infection. As the impact of HTV/AIDS on the GLBT community
increased, numerous efforts which had previously been focused on achieving gay civil
rights were now directed toward the ever increasing death toll of lovers and friends.
44


The onset of the disease had unexpected political consequences due to the large
number of heretofore closeted individuals coming out. Movie stars, fashion
designers, government officials, professors, priests ... The AIDS virus doesnt care
whether you wear drag or leather or a three piece suit. It doesnt care whether you
live in a gay ghetto or with your wife and family in the suburbs. In short, gay men
cannot hide anymore than could the Jews of Europe (Cruikshank, 1992, p. 183).
Two dominant events have had an incalculable affect on GLBT civil rights
efforts: one was the Stonewall Riot and the other was the emergence of HIV/AIDS.
The Stonewall Riot in 1969 provided the opportunity for gay men to realize not only
that harassment could and would be reacted to, but that by working together, much
more could be accomplished even as members of the community were learning to take
pride in their own identities. This realization would become a bonding and energizing
agent that would lead to many beneficial consequences: new leaders, organizations,
publications, support, and increased public awareness.
Boldness became an essential ingredient in these new efforts to achieve equal
treatment, whether it was tactics and techniques of protest, gay/lesbian literature, the
arts, or an openness of lifestyle. These efforts would ebb and flow over the next
decade as progress alternated with regression.
A second event occurred in 1981 the emergence of HIV/AIDS created a
crisis that would once again awaken the GLBT community. AIDS became a force that
brought divergent segments of society into political activity. As Rom cites in Gays
45


and AIDS: Democratizing Disease? (Rimmerman, 2000, p.218) the disease became a
mobilizing force for these groups: the individuals infected, their family members,
friends, and loved ones, and those involved in controversial societal issues. What was
significant about AIDS was that it was not only a medical problem, but involved issues
of morality, civil rights, and sexuality.
The sudden explosion of AIDS into the gay community created new
perspectives and priorities. Approaching mortality, lack of treatment, lack of known
causes, lack of public attention, lack of funding, lack of research, lack of public
support these were the ingredients that caused many in the gay community to
reappraise their situations and conclude that something had to be done. The actions
that resulted ran the gamut of responses. For some, it was personal: they began to
reconsider their secret lifestyles, acknowledge their sexual orientation and publicly
declare their pride in who they were. This new plague was not the end, but rather a
new beginning for them in their efforts to seek social justice and equal treatment. It
also forced society to respond to a health issue that had unknown consequences. The
following chapter begins with the first steps in this process, the process of coming out
of the closet.
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CHAPTER THREE
COMING OUT IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Taking A Stand
This chapter describes the influences that inhibit the disclosure of an
individuals sexual orientation and personalizes the responses of gay men and lesbians
to their sexual orientation. Societys attitudes toward homosexuality can be a very
heavy door for some to open, but they were no longer content with the treatment and
misunderstanding of their orientation and objectives. This chapter provides an
opportunity for individuals in Salt Lake City and Denver to describe the circumstances
surrounding this experience.
The latter half of the twentieth century was an important period for making
political statements. Individuals and groups were determined to no longer tolerate the
status quo, but instead sought justice for their communities. Whether the cause was
womens rights, equal and fair treatment for African Americans, recognition of the
contributions of Native Americans, or ending the fighting in Vietnam, people were
willing to take stands that were unsettling for many in the larger society. The practices
of intolerance and discrimination would no longer be accepted; people would stand in
opposition, make their voices heard. It was an era of commitment and militancy, a
time for honesty and openness. No longer would people be silent; it was time to speak
out.
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For many, being gay or lesbian meant living a double life since it was often
easier to appear straight than to come out and face discrimination and stigmatization
based upon ones sexual orientation. Declaring ones sexual identity can be difficult
when doing so can result in drastic changes in ones life. It is the culmination not only
of the awareness of ones sexual orientation, but also the acceptance of that lifestyle.
In essence, this seemingly simple act of identification becomes both a personal and
political statement. Margaret Cruikshanks The Gay and Lesbian Liberation
Movements (1992) describes the coming out as a succession of stages that
individuals experience, beginning with the physical attraction to individuals of the same
sex, together with the realization that one is a homosexual. This stage is followed by
one in which the person describes his/her feelings to others. This then leads to
searching out others with similar inclinations. The result of these contacts is that
individuals are then able to develop a more positive attitude about their sexual
orientation. The ultimate objective is to achieve the integration and recognition of
ones orientation with the total concept of self.
There is no exact time frame to this process. It can occur over a short period
or take years to complete. It may well be accomplished only in fragments: telling
parents and family can be a first step, then telling friends and coworkers, and
subsequently becoming a member of a gay or lesbian organization, and possibly a civil
rights advocate.
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In the interviews I completed, it appears that what makes this process so
unsettling is the attitude and reactions of those closest to them. For many gay men
and lesbians, the coming out process would be the extent of their identification with
the GLBT community. For others, this decision meant dealing with a complex set of
societal issues surrounding this declaration. Basic to this disclosure were two
elements: fear and uncertainty. The experience of coming out frequently exacted a
psychological, emotional, and religious toll with long-term consequences with the
result that many continued to cloak their sexual orientation rather than disclose
themselves and suffer contempt and discrimination. Some have attempted to lead
straight lifestyles even to the extent of marrying and becoming parents in an attempt
to avoid hostile reactions.
The reaction of family members was a consideration that troubled many gay
men and lesbians in their transition from the secret to a public lifestyle. Uncertainty as
to the effect the announcement would have on relationships, they wondered whether
the bonds of the family would be strong enough to accept this new lifestyle or if the
announcement would create a gulf too wide to bridge. How well the family accepted
the disclosure was a critical element not only in the timing of the initial disclosure, but
also in the ongoing relationship.
A second crucial factor for many was religion. Many religious traditions
contain a strong condemnation of homosexuality and, for those in the GLBT
community who practiced their faith, this conflict became a source of stress and
49


despair. Many religions all but exclude acknowledged homosexuals from communion
in their rites. At a time when religious support was most needed, organized religion
frequently turned its back upon them. This situation was extremely significant in Utah
where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints plays a very important role in all
aspects of life.
Voices4
The following interviews indicate that there were recurring factors that
influence an individuals decision to come out and publicly acknowledge a sexual
orientation deviant from the heterosexual standard. These included the reaction of
family and friends, the fear of physical violence often perpetrated upon gay men and
lesbians, the violation of long held religious beliefs, anxiety over potential job loss, and
the need to become involved in activism for GLBT civil rights.
Family and Friends
For many people, the reaction of their family represented the foremost
consideration in openly acknowledging their sexual identity and was a factor affecting
anxiety and uncertainty. This was especially true if their family was unaware of the
4 No participant in this study will be identified by his or her actual name. As such, names
of individuals organizations have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the
informants.
50


persons orientation prior to the declaration. Several of those interviewed share their
experiences regarding this important theme.
Sterling, the Director of an AIDS Service Organization in Salt Lake City,
speaks with a personal view not only regarding his own experiences but also with the
broader perspective of the GLBT community:
I think one of the difficulties that a lot of people have is coming out to their
families here. Its tough because there is a lot of history of families rejecting
their gay children. I remember when I was dealing with that issue, my
expectation was that my parents would reject me, so I had a really hard time
talking to them. It was internalized homophobia. How could they possibly
continue to love me, Im gay. So I must be rejected. So thats a real tough
process for a lot of people to go through and sometimes the only way for them
to go through that process is to leave. They cant stay and face all those issues
of rejection. (March 21, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah)
Coming out often means moving to another city or neighborhood. The
consequences of such an announcement, especially in small communities, rural areas,
or locales dominated by a particular religion, are formidable obstacles. Many gay men
and lesbians living a closeted lifestyle do not know many of their peers nor do they
have a place to meet in an accepting environment. These considerations often
complicate their identity process.
The need to be accepted is an especially strong emotion for many. This
feeling is graphically developed in the response of Sterling who wanted to be
acknowledged for his individual qualities as a person and not as the stereotype
that many hold toward gay men and lesbians. The respondents I interviewed resonated
that they are not one dimensional beings and resent being categorized by one aspect of
51


their nature. As individuals or as a group, they simply desire to have the rights
afforded other minorities.
Love was the emotion that precipitated the coming out of Caiy. The
exclusion and frustration he felt compelled him to take a stand against the
contradictions of his religious beliefs and the reality of human relationships.
I came out because I personally as a gay man want the same rights that my
brothers and sisters enjoy, namely many the love of my life and raise a family
with them. I want to marry the man that I love and I dont have that right
now. Im in this state where theyve worked really hard to make sure I cannot
have children by adoption or any other way and I think its completely wrong.
There is sadness that people who say they love me dont want me to have the
same happiness they enjoy with their spouse and children. It makes me sad
that the religion that I believe in and that Ive worked all my life to support as
a missionary and through lots of callings in the church, they fight actively to
keep me from living according to my conscience and try to be truly loving.
My family and my religion have encouraged me to love falsely. To pretend to
love a woman and to have a family with a woman. Thats morally wrong, so it
makes me really sad that my family and church wont help me live true to my
heart, true to my convictions. (March 20, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah)
For those individuals committed to their religion, this announcement frequently
became a highly stressful experience. What confronted many who hold strong
religious beliefs was the dichotomy between the tenets of ones faith versus the
importance of familial relationship. The decision between adhering solely to ones
religious teaching or holding together the bonds of family relationships places
pressures upon both the parents and the adult child. The question then becomes
whether to be true to ones religion or supportive to ones children and siblings.
52


What is more poignant is that when one most needs the support of both family and
religion the choice frequently becomes that of one or the other.
The decision to come out separates many from their religious traditions. To
live a gay or lesbian lifestyle means no longer being allowed to be a communicant.
This commitment also places the family in the difficult position of maintaining a
relationship with their offspring that is in opposition to church teaching. This dilemma
can be an inhibiting factor in their declaration.
Not all acknowledgments were made early in ones life. Randy was well
into his seventies when the time was right for him. He married early in his life,
divorced, and waited several years before making his decision:
The thing that caused me to wait so long is the essence of my problem now. I
have a long time roommate, associate, he helped me see the light.. Theres
something like that, some kind of moral inhibitions that were very Strong
earlier in my life that held me back. I had the chance to get involved with other
guys, theyd make overtures to me, but I turned them down.
But then when you get lonely enough, you do it anyhow. So it was in and out
of my life. So, the other question was what brought it out? I dont think
anything did. I just got more frank about it. (June 20, 2001, Denver,
Colorado)
In contrast to the late announcement by Randy, Tom made the decision in
his twenties in a more dramatic fashion:
I was in my late 20s when I finally made that decision with my family and it
was extremely difficult. I think I had always feared rejection which was very
common with eveiyone. And to some degree more broadly in your coming
out, I experienced some amount of that fear and probably made situational
decisions as to whether I wanted or needed to disclose that information.
Certainly with my parents, in my mid twenties, I did the whole drug thing, and
discovered through the process of stopping that a lot of what that was about
53


for me was trying to not deal with my feelings around my coming out process
with my parents. And so I actually did that coming out process with them
during a treatment program and had therapists in the room with us. So, and it
was, just saying it outright to them lifted a huge weight off me.
With regards to my parents reactions, Id say it was better than I expected. I
didnt have real high expectations. My mother did just exactly what I thought
she would do. She went to the place of what about AIDS, more in her own
way, concern for my well being. My father on the other hand, thats where
the surprise came from. I also had a very close friend in the room at the time
who had helped me get into treatment. He and I talked later and he even
observed my mother and father were sitting on a sofa to my left. Whereas my
mother went into this emotional state. My father physically moved closer to
me upon my disclosure. Its always stuck out I my mind ever since. From
that standpoint there was a non verbal show of support to me that I had not
expected. (June 14, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
For someone deciding when to come out, one of the most stressful and
unknown situations is trying to anticipate the response and support they will receive.
The anxiety and trepidation makes the circumstances and results frequently highly
unclear. Not only are the responses often unexpected, but can also be pleasingly
positive. Timing of the announcement can be a vital factor in this response.
The decision for Bud, a psychiatrist, reflected the emotional and
psychological and professional context in which his decision was made:
Fear, terror. I always found it difficult to be disliked. It hurts me when
someone doesnt like me. I knew that coming out that 90% of the public
would revile me. And it was terrifying. I didnt know if I could survive like
that. I didnt want my ex-wife to think that was the reason for the divorce; it
wasnt but I had no control over what she was going to think. I worried
about what my three sons would think and whether they would attack me.
Somehow I guess I decided to take that chance and felt compelled. (June 12,
2001, Denver, Colorado)
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What is not uncommon is that many gay men and lesbians decide to marry
even though they are aware of their sexual orientation. Numerous pressures and
circumstances prevail in leading them to make this decision, including family,
professional, and religious influences. The subsequent birth of children frequently
complicates and extends the relationship. Buds dilemma is an example of the
recriminations of ones actions and the responses and attitudes of the spouse and
children are very important considerations not only in deciding to stay in a
relationship but also to end it. These were the obvious concerns he confronted in
making his decision.
While Bud was deeply concerned about the response to his sexual
orientation by his wife and children, Donald did not feel the same pressure or
anxiety. Donalds attitudes toward his sexual orientation were extremely low key
as was his involvement in the GLBT community or any efforts in civil rights
advocacy.
Donald does not cite a particular event or person that prompted his
acknowledgment of his sexual orientation. He states:
I dont remember any event that happened. I was married. I went to college
after school. I dont remember coming out. Thats a word we didnt
know then. In fact, gay wasnt even a term. I remember when it was just a
code word. I got married. Actually before I was married I met my wife in
college and we were both involved in drama in which there were a lot of gay
men, some women too. We knew some of the same people and so my being
gay was not a great surprise to my wife but I dont remember that we talked
about it much.
55


So when you ask about coming out, it was such a gradual process that there
was no, I never discussed it with parents, but I think I assumed that they knew
about it and didnt want to talk about it. (May 24,2001, Denver, Colorado)
Pete, an articulate and involved professional reveals the events that
surrounded his announcement:
The first time that I fully acknowledged my sexual orientation was in the
summer of 1974,1 was 23. I think that the complexity of the question; its a
very complex question. There are many issues I would acknowledge as
barriers. Probably the most important as I think about it would be the
recognition that I would have to be redefining my entire life and my
whole expectations for life around that identity. I think that something that
kept me from coming out earlier was the notion that I had just not found the
right woman. So I had the expectations of marriage and family and a
heterosexual life. At some point I realized that wasnt going to happen so the
biggest barrier was understanding. Another barrier was finding people like me
who were also gay. The reality was that gay people werent very visible.
(June 7, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
Coming out can be a defining moment as evidenced by Petes comments
about the realization that certain societal expectations of finding the right woman and
getting married would not be part of his life experience. With this decision would
come the necessity to establish associations with gay men and enter a new social
environment.
Violence
Sexual orientation continues to be a basis for discrimination and victimization
for the GLBT community. Not only are they excluded from the rights and
opportunities of the heterosexual majority, but their persecution extends from verbal
attacks to physical assault often resulting in injury and even death. The willingness to
56


attack gay men and lesbians sadly has a long and violent history. This hostility was
tragically exemplified in the Rocky Mountain region with the unprovoked murder of
Matthew Shepard. Whether physical attacks upon members of the GLBT population
are motivated by a first person experience or simply in response to the experiences of
others, it is commented upon by several interviewees.
Dave spoke with emotion surrounding the events that led to his decision to
publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation.
I think a lot of it, and maybe Im not just speaking for myself, but I think
theres a lot of fear involved. Basically through the years I had to move
because of queer bashing even though I owned a house. I couldnt even walk
up on my porch; my companion was threatened, so I had to sell that home.
Yet, even though we have the right to live there, that packed a lot of things.
It built up some anger and thats why I thought speaking out and being openly
public couldnt hurt worse than a smack in the face, having a rock thrown
through your window. You know even my last name starts with an F and it
was on my front door, I had to take that off, that stands for fag you know,
and I had to take that off It started in fear, anger, not really a rebellion, but I
had to stand up for rights. I wasnt hurting anybody and the whole thing is,
when I see people walk through the front door here (at an AIDS service
organization) and see people suffering from things like that, theres a whole lot
of different things that Ive witnessed and its like when I go out and teach,
theres a positive side that you dont have to put up with this crap. (March 20,
2001, Salt Lake City, Utah)
It appears that those who attack gay men and lesbians are somehow
concerned that their lifestyle will negatively impact the heterosexual majority. They
have the misguided belief that these attacks will cause GLBTs to retreat from their
civil rights objectives. Acts of violence for some have become the only means of
combating something they do not understand.
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Members of the GLBT community have become the new scapegoats for many
segments of society. While it is not politically correct to assail individuals based on
their ethnicity, sexual orientation remains a convenient label to target. Anti-
homosexual sentiment is given a degree of legitimacy by the opposition of several
religious groups and the position of the military.
Religion
Few institutions in society are more personal and influential than religion. The
impact of religious teaching can reach every comer of a persons life. Many religious
traditions and especially those of a fundamentalist base, such as Southern Baptists
and Assemblies of God, are extremely hostile to the GLBT lifestyle. They believe that
gay men and lesbians violate the Biblical model of the family. Every aspect of
moral family life marriage, sexuality, parenting, gender roles is undermined by the
gay rights agenda (Gerzon, 1997, p.20).
This view is also held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which
represents the majority of Utah residents and is an essential force in dictating the
lifestyle of the states population. The conflict between the dictates of the church and
the sexual orientation of GLBT Mormon faithful creates a divide that can only be
bridged by sexual abstinence. This dichotomy between sexual inclinations and
adherence to church teaching has created countless spiritual, emotional, and physical
dilemmas. Though the religious influence in Utah is unique, the specter of religious
58


oppression is a daunting consideration for many in the GLBT community. This
influence is evidenced by the following interviews:
Sterling again speaks with a broad perspective of the GLBT community:
When you come out in Utah you have to come way out. You cant come out
a little bit; the expectation is that you disengage from your religion; in fact,
theres a big movement by a couple of people to get people who have grown
up Mormon to be excommunicated, to deliberately get themselves
excommunicated. There doesnt seem to be any understanding of what a
difficult process that is for someone whos been strongly religious and
happens to be gay. Its already difficult to reconcile that and a lot of people
have a tough time with that and theres no room to acknowledge it. (March
21, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah)
Sterling clearly stated the conflict that exists for someone who is gay and
also has a strong commitment to his religion. The decision to come out is not taken
lightly and the impact is even more devastating knowing that such an announcement
can lead to excommunication from ones church. This is especially significant when
the majority culture was strongly influenced by the church to which he had been a
lifelong member.
Work
Coming out for some is more than a decision to be identified by their sexual
orientation. Discrimination in employment is still a fact that exists for gay men and
lesbians in professions as diverse as education and the military. There are policies and
penalties for acknowledging homosexual orientation whether overt acts are committed
or not. This situation has prompted individuals to take stands and become more
59


militant in securing equal treatment with the heterosexual majority. The following
interviews exemplify this theme:
Charles was reluctantly thrust into the public spotlight due to unplanned
events that prompted him to reveal his sexual orientation. He relates the experience:
I was a teacher and so I was teaching high school during the time when a
young girl at the high school came out and that was so interesting because it
coincided with a current events emphasis in my classroom so when I asked my
students what they wanted to talk about, they said they wanted to talk about
that. With enormous nervousness, I said OK. What I realized was that they
were at a different place than my generation was. Some were anti but most
just didnt care which was different than my generation. That was a wake up
call that there had been that shift. From that experience I became the first
openly gay public school teacher in the state of Utah. In a public way. I had a
public press conference and thats not to say there werent others, but the
media gave that label to me. And Ive accepted it, and thats now been 6-7
years ago. (March 20, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah)
Betty, now in her seventies, is outspoken and decisive in her opinions as she
speaks of her thoughts regarding her decision to come out :
I get impatient but I understand, older people are still very closeted. I am an
exception and I think thats too bad but many of them prefer to remain in the
closet because of their professions. It is very tightly woven little groups. I
think the men have done a far better job of making their voice heard than
women, particularly older women. The younger women, the kids are coming
out earlier and earlier which I think philosophically is marvelous but my heart
goes out to them because so many of them face such trauma in their school
and social endeavors. (May 21, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
The inconsistency of legal decisions with regard to first amendment issues is
graphically demonstrated in decisions involving teachers. The educational profession
allowed for special restrictions to be placed upon teachers giving wide discretion to
school boards to censuring them. The extent to which these guidelines extended was
60


exemplified in Roland v. Mad River Local School District, 461 U.S.,138 (1983).
This decision dealt with the sexual orientation of teachers. The court held that the
school board could transfer a counselor to a non-student-contact position for merely
revealing her bi-sexual orientation to a colleague.
Not only were first amendment rights trampled for teachers, but their positions
required a higher standard of conduct. Incorporated in the concept of their position
was the aspect of role model. In Gaylord v. Tacoma School District, 88 Washington
2d 286, p.559 p.2d!340, (1977) the court held that role identification was so
important that a teacher could be discharged for immorality simply because it was
known he was a homosexual.
Employment remains problematic for gay men and lesbians especially in the
sector of public employment. Heightened restrictions confront them in military
employment, employment in jobs that require a security clearance, and employment in
civil service (Harvard Law Review, 1989, p.44). Many are now familiar with the
militarys policy of dont ask, dont tell. The rationale is the cliche security risks
has become a mantra for discharging or removing competent individuals from their
positions.
The court held that inherent in the term homosexual is that gratification would
result from sexual relations with someone of the same sex. The court further
concluded that an individual admitting his sexual orientation was equal to stating he
had committed the acts (HarvardLaw Review, 1989, p.91)
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What is tragic about the regulations and policies related to sexual orientation
and teaching is that guilt is not an act, but rather a state of being. Simply the fact that
a person is gay or lesbian is enough to cause discharge. For educators, sexual
orientation is held at a different standard than ethnicity, religion, disability, or age.
Activism
There came a time when intolerance against those in the GLBT community
would no longer be accepted. Activism and militancy that had accomplished
significant advances for other minorities would be a tool this community would use in
its effort to achieve gay and lesbian civil rights.
The methods of advocacy are as diverse as the people and objectives of those
seeking relief from the conditions that oppress them. For some, the circumstances
surrounding their activism were planned, while for others the moment was not of their
own choosing but was thrust upon them unexpectedly by an outside force. The
reluctance of society to focus on the devastation of the GLBT community by the
onslaught of HIV/AIDS was a powerful cause for mobilization. Whether young or
old, rich or poor, college graduate or school dropout, those who entered the liberation
movement concluded that the only way to make a difference and progress would be by
speaking and acting out.
Charles further relates his experiences upon coming out:
After I came out, I felt like I had two lives after that point. I not only had to
be a stellar teacher but I had to be a stellar gay teacher. I felt like I now even
62


had to be better than I had before, that there would be more scrutiny on me. I
also found myself working two jobs, I now was in a spotlight position. I was
in a role of activist that I never wanted to be in. I did what I did but I didnt
really consider myself an activist. After that, Ellen Degeneres came out and I
remember she was interviewed by Barbara Walters and she said she didnt
want to be an activist. And I laughed and said, You dont have a choice. You
will be used by both sides in ways that will delight and anger you. By the very
proxy of where you put yourself, you will be an activist. And I didnt realize
that at the time. I thought I would have the control over it and I didnt.
One thing I learned about the media is the media makes you do what they
want, well other people as well; you know for those who thought I was a
hero, I was a hero. To those who thought I was a villain, I was a villain and I
had no control over that. I couldnt go out and change peoples attitudes.
Being an activist didnt come with its own hand book. (March 20,2001, Salt
Lake City, Utah)
When a person realizes he/she is homosexual, there are several factors to
consider before deciding to openly declare that sexual orientation. These factors
include the necessity for honesty both to oneself and others. In the interviews I
conducted I discovered that people decided to come out when the desire to improve
the lives of those in their own community outweighed the concern about negative
response from others. This was typified by numerous interviewees who decided to
enter the health care field to assist those living with HTV/AIDS.
There are many motives involved in an individual declaring his sexual
orientation pride in ones identity, unwillingness to continue leading a life of
dishonesty, no longer content to be treated as a second-class citizen.
Conclusion
The dilemma confronting those deliberating the decision to come out was
63


whether coming out would be the opening of one door or the closing of many
others. The unknown consequences of this act were potent aspects of their thinking.
As DEmilio (1998) suggests, Whatever the path by which gay men and women
arrived at a self definition based on their sexuality, the labeling ones sexual desires
marked
but the first step in a lifelong journey of discovery that offered challenges, perils, and
rewards (DEmilio, 1983, p.21).
This was amply displayed in the experiences of the individuals in this chapter.
The time frame for coming out is indefinite; examples are presented that illustrate the
opportune moment was early in an individuals life for some and in the very mature
years for others. .
What is emerging from this experience is a progression of societal and medical
findings that have awakened an increased understanding of GLBTs. The progress
attained by the African American civil rights movement gave new impetus to the gay
and lesbian community. This, combined with the inertia of the government in
responding to the AIDS crisis, motivated countless individuals to say Enough!
Coming out today is easier than it was in previous decades. The number of
organizations created to assist and support GLBTs are numerous and nationwide. The
Internet provides a vast array of information and support to those making such a
decision. An abundance of media resources dispenses information regarding health,
political action, legal issues, and educational services.
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Two issues were fundamental to the interviewees and they continue to be
foremost in their activism: justice and health. In the following chapter, I will examine
even further how these are related in the context of the GLBT community by looking
specifically at the effect of HTV/AIDS on gay/lesbian activism.
65


CHAPTER FOUR
GLBT REACTION TO HIV/AIDS
Mobilization
The emergence of AIDS has produced a mixed blessing for the GLBT
community. In the opinion of Jeffrey Escoffer, an historian, Not only has the AIDS
epidemic mobilized more gay men than any other issue of the gay movement, but it has
led to a greatly increased appreciation of gay rights (Kramer, 1994, p.xx). The
bankrupt mentality toward the affliction wrought by AIDS is contained in the
comments of a British microbiology professor who expresses the views on both sides
of the Atlantic. He states that treatment research raises a moral dilemma since it
would run the risk of prolonging the lives of people who would remain infectious in
the community (Kramer, 1994, p.xxii). Though these sentiments were spoken years
ago, they still are held by many today.
The HIV/AIDS virus did more than effect the physical well being of its victims.
The devastating effects not only caused dramatic health changes, but also accelerated
the necessity for the GLBT community to become more politically active. It was
apparent that the community must become more involved in shaping its collective
destinies; it would not simply be accomplished by the activism of supporters in the
heterosexual society. This section gives voice to those who felt the impact of
HIV/AIDS and in some way acted upon it.
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Activism by the gay community did not commence with the scourge of the
virus as I documented in Chapter 2 of this thesis. A decade had passed since the
Stonewall Bar riots created a new advocacy movement. However, the devastation to
the gay community coupled with the indifference of the government and lack of
concern by the general public forced many to adopt new techniques. This process
began with the efforts to become more knowledgeable about the disease, and to use
this information to care for those suffering from it (Cruikshank, 1994).
Much of the GLBT activism in the 1980s and 90s was compelled by the basic
instinct for survival. More than other segments of society, gay men were confronted
daily with the horrendous impact of the disease; therefore, they would have to take the
lead. This participation would create a linking of those suffering from the disease and
those concerned with the plight of the affected (Cruikshank, 1994).
The irony of this tragic situation was that though other diseases and epidemics
were viewed as illnesses that required eradication, ADDS for many held a different
distinction. It encompassed other attributes related to morality, sexuality, and civil
rights. An extremely chilling by-product of the AIDS epidemic was that it provided
homophobic individuals with an issue in which they could express their hostility. They
associated homosexuality with the virus which was the rationale to express their anti-
gay/lesbian sentiments.
The extent to which the devastation of the disease was ignored at the
governmental level was evidenced by the reaction of President Ronald Reagan, who
67


did not comment on the crisis until Thanksgiving 1987, with a known total of 25,644
dead from AIDS in the United States (Kramer, 1994, p.xvi). The context in which he
made the statement was to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to
examine to what degree the virus had affected society at large.
The perception that the government was becoming involved only because the
virus was spreading beyond homosexuals to the heterosexual population created deep
concerns in the GLBT community. This lack of attention to such a serious health issue
motivated GLBT activists. It was no coincidence that supporters of ACT UP
(AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) embraced Malcolm Xs slogan of By any means
necessary (Rimmerman, 2000, p.220). In the following section are comments
regarding how the introduction of HTV/AIDS affected the identity of those in the
GLBT community as well as their activism.
The impact of HIV has motivated individuals in many way to become involved.
Tom in Denver relates his thoughts:
So many people Ive talked to over the years both those living with HIV and
those affected by HTV often have expressed positive sides to this disease and
this epidemic. Certainly I had both positive and negative memories and
experience from HTV-positive having been for me personally, as someone
affected by HIV in my life, the positive has been that the awareness overall
thats happened throughout society and in dealing with a disease of this
impact, worldwide, but my experience is in the US, just what Ive seen
happen. (June 14,2001, Denver, Colorado)
The onset of the disease for Tom instilled a dedication and sensitivity that
had not existed prior to his being infected. It became such a career altering experience
that he dedicated himself to working in the health care profession serving those living
68


with HTV/AIDS. This commitment to serving the infected had led him to consider his
condition a blessing.
The implications of HTV/AIDS are viewed from many different positions:
Buds perspective is:
I have an interesting take on that. I have said for 15 year and more that
HTV/AIDS is the best thing that ever happened to the gay community. Let me
explain my thinking to you. I dont mean that its a good thing to have AIDS
at all but because of this illness we are getting publicity. It may not be the
kind of publicity one wants, maybe its all negative publicity but its forcing
the majority to acknowledge the existence of a substantial minority and I think
thats a step up. (June 12, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
Buds comments were repeated by more than one interviewee. The extent of
the disease, and the implications throughout society, forced both the authorities and
the public to become more knowledgeable about the virus, and generated discussion
about homosexuality and how homosexuals were treated.
The impact of the virus accelerated Bettys involvement in the GLBT civil
rights movement. Observing first hand the consequences of the disease continues to
motivate her activism.
I was rather isolated from the GLBT community for a long time and I think I
started becoming active around 1975 a little bit and then with the onslaught of
AIDS I became even more active in approximately 1988 and then also from
there in conjunction with AIDS became quite active in the human rights area.
(May 21, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
Both Tom and Bud agree that the implications of HIV/AIDS in the
GLBT community forced many to lose their complacency and begin to act rather
react to the impact of the disease.
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Byron, is a Denver attorney and long time advocate whose activism
predated the onset of the disease. He describes his initial involvement:
I think I got interested in trying to do something about the problems of gay
people/gay movement after I became conscious myself that I was
predominantly gay. And after I got my law degree I was instrumental in
getting the ACLU of Colorado organized in 1952.
Subsequently, he describes the events as he perceived them later:
Initially AIDS appeared as a real set back. There arose a feeling in the general
community of revulsion against gay people. A lot of people who didnt know
about gay and lesbian people for the first time began to understand or at least
learn about gays and gay problems. I think with the initial set back of the
advent of the HIV infection, in a way it has been an advantage because it
brought to the front of the public mind the presence of gay people and
resulted in the education of the population that it is not a voluntary status. It
is something apparently that is inborn. (May 9, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
Byrons involvement in GLBT activism has a fifty year history. His lifelong
dedication to this effort was predicated on two issues: the need to educate individuals
about what it is like to be gay or lesbian and the unjust treatment that society meted
out to gay men and lesbians. From the time he realized he was gay, he was determined
to provide legal services to groups working to achieve gay rights.
Peter is a leader in the gay community, knowledgeable and articulate who
recognized the consequences of the disease:
I was involved in the very earliest awareness that there was something out
there called GRID {Gay Related Immune Deficiency, an earlier name given
to HIV since it appeared only to infect gay men) or the gay cancer or
whatever. I had left the community center in early 1980, became first editor
for Out Front, the local gay newspaper. I think I wrote the first article about
the gay cancer in mid 1981. (June 7, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
70


He describes his emotions as he became more aware of the potential of the disease:
I think that I was personally afraid for myself and it did not take me very long
to change my behavior once I realized there was a sexual component to the
transmission. In my conversations journalistically and as part of the (local
AIDS service organization) with local health department officials, I felt like I had
the best data. There was being personally afraid but there were people at that time
who were considered alarmists and I think I was one and glad that I was. I felt
like weve got to get the word out to everybody that this is life- threatening and I
was involved in writing the first safe sex brochure that we had here.
Peters reaction was that of an activist. He was determined to make a
difference in the GLBT community by educating its members to the dangers of the
disease. His disappointment with the media was obvious as he expressed his outrage
that the media appears more concerned about the outbreak of a disease affecting
animals than one that impacts gay men and lesbians.
One was that I couldnt believe the disappointment in my own community for
how slow it was to recognize the dangers and addressing them in the
community. Somebody like me who cares so much for what we have worked
so hard to accomplish to see it all tom apart ... plus individuals getting sick
and dying. That ripped me up. Another thing was the complete non-response
of government and the media. It was appalling to me and it still is. Think
about all this crap about mad cow disease. I think if wed had such media
about HIV. (June 7, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
A different perspective is presented by Donald when he considers the impact
of HTV/AIDS on his own life:
It came on gradually, the consciousness or acknowledgment that we were in
for trouble because even for the medical community it came on gradually.
Early on I had a few friends who died of unknown causes, a strange kind of
death. (May 21, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
A striking difference between the gay/lesbian movement and other civil and
71


human rights movements is that much of the discriminatory treatment by both
individuals and institutions is based upon behavior that is conducted in private; that is,
personal sexual behavior. The private sexual behavior of the heterosexual majority is
not the cause for public censure; however, the same activity conducted by consenting
gay men and lesbians makes them a target for various types of discrimination. This
double standard is frequently the cause for a secret life for gay men and lesbians.
This new social activism provided a climate for gays and lesbians to rethink
and begin to take control of their destinies. No longer were they willing to accept the
intolerance of society, inaction would become proaction. Responding to the treatment
of society and the verbal ridicule, homosexuals selected a term that would renounce
societys old concept of them, they would now take pride in being known as gay and
queer and no longer accept or tolerate the concept that they were sinful or sick.
Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation
The role of African Americans and people of color has been minuscule in the
GLBT civil rights movement though not by their choice. In his essay Where Rhetoric
meets Reality: The Role of Black Lesbians and Gays in Queer Politics, Keith
Boykin questions the inclusive makeup of the movement. He finds hypocrisy in this
movement that laments the discrimination of gay men and lesbians by the heterosexual
population, yet tolerates discrimination against communities of color within the GLBT
72


population (Rimmerton, 2000, p.79).
This attitude meant that gay men and lesbians of color were faced with two
serious obstacles to achieving a significant voice in the movement: finances and
political contacts and influence. These barriers, combined with a greater reluctance
than whites to come out of the closet and the limited opportunities to relocate to large
metropolitan areas where coming out could more easily be accomplished, resulted in a
limited leadership role. Yet, when people of color developed closer relationships with
those in the Anglo community, the result was often a diminished leadership role among
their peers, from their own ethnic community. For many in the Chicano community,
the most important allegiance was to the ethnic community, which translated to
Chicano, Chicano, Chicano indicating that no other aspect of ones identity was as
important as this.
This type of dual isolation was reflected in the comments of Dan, a Chicano
activist:
As far as HTV/AIDS, I see a very significant turn of events that theres been
more visibility of Latino/Latina issues connected to HIV/AIDS. Thats been a
victory. Back in the early 80s when AIDS was started, as long as it was called
a gay disease, there wasnt much done by the government. As it became more
of a gay white male disease, a few more crumbs were coming from the table.
But the Latino and African American piece of this disease has caused more
spotlight on that. It hasnt been very easy. You can talk to others and see
that there has been a war waged over this to get the Latino issues on the table.
As far as gender, here in Denver just like throughout the country, there was a
separatism. A lot of the Lesbian separatists wouldnt work with men. Here if
you were a man they wouldnt work with you. Thats a trend throughout the
country. But with the advent of AIDS that changed. A lot of the Lesbian
separatists started coming back and saying lets work together on this issue.
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That was a significant victory. Unfortunately, I dont think gay men have
been as supportive of womens issues as the Lesbian feminists have been.
(May 22,2001, Denver, Colorado)
It appears that the emergence of the virus in the Chicano community took
precedence over other issues including that of gender.
What Dans comments reflect here is the tunnel vision that individuals have
even when seeking objectives that can benefit the greater good of their ethnic
community. He speaks of different comfort zones describing Chicano activists who
will not work with heterosexuals and other Chicano activists who will not have
anything to do with lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered supporters.
The greatest hurt and disappointment is that oftentimes as activists we assume
that because people can understand one issue, they can understand other
issues of oppression. And thats not always the case. I remember working in
the straight Chicano movement. There was no sensitivity to the gay issue.
Thats counterrevolutionary. The flip side, getting in the gay movement, there
wasnt much sensitivity to racism or to sexism. So that has been kind of the
biggest disappointment. (May 22, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
Dan reflected on the qualities that will enable the movement to progress:
Historically coalitions are not built on love for one another; theyre built on
mutual respect. But there has to be some kind of trust involved. I think Id
like to see where we get to the point where we can form ongoing coalitions
with some trust involved and well never love each other, thats a given,
because of so much hurt in our society. May 22, 2001, Denver, Colorado)
Dans plea for respect was a valid one. The need to evaluate long term
consequences is an important and necessary attribute in ensuring significant progress,
and where haste and special interests plant the seeds for failure.
Dan relates the divisions that make bridging the gap between white
74


gay/lesbian coalitions with Chicanos difficult. The basis for this problem, he believes,
is the insensitivity of white gays and lesbians to the specific issues facing Chicanos
such as the importance of religious influence and the identification with his own ethnic
group. This insensitivity created obstacles for him as he coordinated his activist
efforts.
What many gays and lesbians faced was a deeply ingrained hostility that was
little different from the racial discrimination suffered by people of color in the United
States. The basis for this opposition was woven into the tapestiy of numerous
misconceptions and fears, supported by theology and societal disciplines. The lack of
contact by the heterosexual population with the GLBT community added to countless
misunderstandings about them and their threat to society.
Summary
HIV/AIDS could have significantly impacted any ethnic group, religious sect,
age category, or gender; however, in America gay men were among its first victims.
The GLBT community, long the subject of discrimination, now were hosts of an illness
that no one wanted, and few outside their own community were concerned about the
suffering they endured.
The impact of the virus in the GLBT community and the slow response by the
federal government forced them to develop a response to the health care crisis utilizing
their own resources to provide disease prevention strategies and access to care and
75


treatment. Prior to the time when the federal government began allocating funds to
serve this population, the GLBT community had set up extensive networks such as the
Gay Mens Health Crisis, community information hot lines, community-based buddy
programs, and other similar efforts to care for those infected with the disease.
In the course of my investigations I found certain resounding themes with
regard to the impact of HIV/AIDS on GLBT activism: One, lesbians had been more
active in political matters as a result of their involvement in the womens liberation
movement. With the onset of HIV among gay men, they became more politically
active in that arena also.
Two, the immensity of the epidemics impact on gay men brought attention to
this lifestyle as few other factors could have. With death confronting them, the
shackles of inhibitions were removed and many gay men no longer cared what anyone
thought about their lifestyle. With nothing further to lose, they went out and
demanded their rights.
Three, the virus forced the GLBT community to form organizations all across
the country to provide health and social services to the infected. These programs
included educational efforts on preventing the spread of the disease and pursuing
scientific research on the illness.
Four, political activism took the form of coalition building and the resulting
groups then had the political clout to meet with governmental agencies and politicians
76


at the city, county, state, and federal level to seek redress for the institutionalized
discrimination toward the GLBT community.
77


CHAPTER FIVE
CONCLUSIONS
History records many similarities in the treatment of minorities by the majority
segment of society. This is accomplished by a systematic demonization of the targeted
groups; the process is assisted by religious teachings, medical decisions, and legal
interpretations all seeking one objective: to prevent members of the minority groups
from attaining the rights and status of the majority.
The systematic dehumanizing continues until tragic and significant events occur
and signal the point where unjust treatment will no longer be tolerated. For the
African-American civil rights movement, that event was Rosa Parks failure to give up
her seat on the bus. Such circumstances galvanize individuals into action frequently
without regard to personal consequences, for what becomes most important is the
necessity to rectify the existing state of affairs.
The rights that minorities seek are no different from that of societys majority:
the opportunity to marry, to participate in the rites of their religious faith, to serve in
the military, to work in their chosen profession based solely upon their ability to
perform their duties, and to be eligible for survivorship and other domestic partnership
benefits that are afforded to heterosexual citizens.
This paper explores the historical context of interactions between members of
the GLBT community and heterosexuals with the implications of societal teachings,
78


positions, and attitudes that sought to deny gay men and lesbians the opportunity to
achieve equal treatment regardless of their sexual orientation. The interviews
personalize their efforts to attain the opportunities and rights that are taken for granted
in the heterosexual segment of society.
There were two defining events that energized the GLBT community. The
first was the long-standing police harassment that culminated in the Stonewall Riot.
Gay men not only began to retaliate, but more importantly, became part of a new
perspective on what it meant to be gay. The reaction to the police action created a
new identity and sense of cohesion in the GLBT community. Gay men would no
longer be seen as bad, rather, the perspective would be gay is good. New
organizations were established almost immediately, and the GLBT community realized
that by mobilizing its efforts, much could be accomplished.
The second catalyst was the onset of HTV/AIDS in the gay population. The
decimation resulting from the disease combined with the reluctance of the government
to become involved, the apathy of the larger heterosexual population toward those
infected, and the tardiness of the medical community to respond to the crisis created a
renewal of activism. The GLBT community had no recourse except to aid the
afflicted. By establishing medical assistance networks, counseling agencies,
educational programs, and political action groups they were able to raise the
consciousness of the public and rally widespread support for the health crisis. In the
79


process of aiding the victims of the virus, they were empowering themselves and their
movement.
At the beginning of this study, I anticipated that the illness and death caused by
HIV/AIDS in the GLBT community combined with the governmental response to the
health care crisis would be the most compelling factor in energizing the civil rights
struggle. Though there was agreement among those I interviewed that HIV/AIDS
was a significant factor in their lives, only 24% indicated that the illness was the
primary motivation for their involvement in GLBT civil rights issues though many
became involved in providing health care or support services.
The majority of the interviewees, 56%, stated that discrimination against gay
men and lesbians was the most significant basis for their involvement in the GLBT civil
rights struggle. They indicated that issues related to employment rights, access to
marriage, unfair legal decisions, rights of survivorship, and actions by law enforcement
agencies were important in their decisions to fight for civil rights.
What makes the results of this study interesting is the maturity of the first
individuals I interviewed, especially in Denver, Colorado. The initial participants were
well into their seventies and, because of my sampling technique, they referred me to
their peers who were in the same age category. Because of this, I had the opportunity
and privilege to meet those who were pioneers in the GLBT civil rights efforts. Many
had worked for decades prior to both the Stonewall Riot and the beginning of the
HIV/AIDS epidemic. The input of this unexpected age group undoubtedly skewed the
80


results of this study and, because of the sampling technique used, I do not believe this
study could be replicated. It would be difficult to randomly locate another sample
which included such a large number of openly gay men over the age of 65.
The third factor, which motivated 20% of the interviewees to become involved
in the GLBT civil rights movement, were the teachings and influence of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. The churchs theology
toward homosexuality made it impossible for individuals to live their orientation and
remain communicants of their faith.
In most of my meetings with groups of gay men there was no minority
representation. In addition, when asking for prospective interviewees from those
already interviewed, only two non-Caucasians were mentioned. The lack of
interviewees from ethnic minorities may have changed the outcome of the study.
The educational level of all interviewees (93% had studied at the college or
university level) and the household income of respondents (almost 50% earned
$35,000 or more annually) appears consistent with the published demographics that
indicate gay men and lesbians are well educated with household incomes above the
national average.
One serious omission of this study could not be avoided: the absence of the
large number of gay men who have died of AIDS since it was identified in 1981.
Those individuals who were first affected by the disease would have had a great deal
more to share about how the emergence of the virus impacted the GLBT community.
81


Their efforts to find the cause of their own illness and to gain access to treatment
would have given a much broader perspective on HIV/AIDS and the GLBT civil rights
movement. The loss of these subjects for research will forever leave a gap in the body
of knowledge about the impact of HIV/AIDS on the GLBT community. The loss of
these individuals for their families and friends can never be measured.
This study was a powerful learning experience for me. The participants were
extremely open and honest in relating important episodes in their lives. The recitation
of many important and intimate experiences created a bonding between interviewer
and interviewee that was unexpected. I am truly grateful that I was so gracefully
received by them.
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APPENDIX A
INDIVIDUAL QUESTIONNAIRE
1. In which age group do you belong? (OPTIONAL)
18-34______ 35-45__________ 46-65___________ Over 65_______
2. What is your racial/ethnic background? (OPTIONAL)
Caucasian______ Hispanic______ Asian African-American ____
Other______
3. How long have you lived In this city?
1-5 years______ 5-10 years______ 10 15 years_____
Over 15 years_____
4. Indicate your highest level of education
high school____ Some college_________ College degree_______
College +______
5. Indicate your household income category
Below $25,000_____ $25,000 $35,000____ $35,000 $50,000______
$50,000+_____
6. How do you identify yourself related to the GLBT community? (OPTIONAL)
gay______ lesbian straight_____ bisexual______
transgendered_____
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7. When did you become aware of your sexual orientation?
8. What were the circumstances surrounding your coming out?
9. Do you believe there is a distinguishable movement for
gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered (GLBT) civil rights In your city?
10. If so, when did it begin?
11. What or who was/is involved In the movement?
12. What has been your involvement?
13. How do you think the outbreak of HIV/AIDS impacted the GLBT community
generally?
14. How did it impact you personally and your politics In particular?
15. In the overall scheme of things, how important do you believe the HIV/AIDS
epidemic was as a motivating force In mobilizing the GLBT community to work
toward greater rights?
16. What factors would you consider significant In motiving your involvement In this
movement?
17. Can you rank these factors In order of their importance to your decision?
18. Please cite specific individuals and incidents that were key In your decision to
become involved In the GLBT civil rights movement.
19. What are your goals for the future regarding GLBT civil rights?
20. Who else do you recommend I talk to regarding this issue?
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APPENDIX B
AGENCY QUESTIONNAIRE
1. How long has this agency/organization been In existence?
Less than 5 years____5 10 years_____10 15 years_____More than 15
years_____
2. Please describe the work that the agency/organization does.
3. Around which issues was your agency/organization originally formed?
4. What have been some of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of your
organization during its time of service to the GLBT community?
5. How do you think the outbreak of HTV/AIDS impacted the GLBT community
generally?
6. How did it impact your agency/organization and its politics In particular?
7. In the overall scheme of things, how important do you believe the HIV/AIDS
epidemic was as a significant factor In the growth of your agency/organization?
8. What other factors would you consider significant In the growth of your
agency/organization?
9. Can you rank these factors In order of their importance to your work?
10. Please cite specific individuals and incidents that were key to the development of
your agency/organization.
85


11. What are your agency/organizations goals for the future regarding GLBT civil
rights?
12. Do you know of other agencies/organizations I should interview regarding this
issue?
86


APPENDIX C
CONSENT FORM
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THESIS RESEARCH
HIV/AIDS AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT FOR THE
GAY/LESBIAN/BISEXUAL/TRANSGENDERED POPULATION
I understand that I am participating In research being conducted by Frank J. Shaw In
preparation of his Masters degree thesis. The research will consist of one interview of
approximately one hour. This will be my only involvement with the research.
I am participating In this research solely as a volunteer and do not anticipate any
problems arising from the interview. If I begin to feel that my reputation could be
damaged by participating In the research or that I could face any embarrassment
because of it, I know that I can withdraw from the research at any time.
I understand that though it is unlikely, there is always the possibility that information
obtained through interviews could be made public and that embarrassment could
result.
The interview will be held In a pre-determined location upon which the researcher and
I agree. The interview site will likely be at an agency which will allow the private use
of a conference room. I further understand that the interview will be tape recorded so
that the researcher can transcribe it. At no time will my name be used and no one
except the interviewer will have access to the tapes or the transcriptions.
I understand that I can ask questions about the study and can stop the interview and
my participation at any time without any penalty. I also have the right to contact the
Office of Academic Affairs at CU-Denver Building, Suite 700, 303-556-2550 if I have
additional questions.
Interviewee Name Date
Interviewer Name Date
2729 S. Oakland Circle West. Aurora; CO 80014 303-400-0441 0441
babsherself@juno. com
87


APPENDIX D
GLOSSARY
From the beginning of the study, these definitions provided insight into
understanding the value and qualities of those who chose each identifier. The word
gay is frequently equated with homosexual. Though this is the case, I learned that
there are shadings that extend the identification beyond sexual orientation. It begins
for many with personal separation from past connotations of homosexual that
included being stigmatized as mentally ill. For many gay men the word signifies the
acceptance of their own sexual orientation and the dedication to support their civil
rights movement. Lesbianism is usually defined as the strong attraction by young
females toward other females. For most lesbians, there was not one conscious act
leading to this attraction, but rather it came as a response to complex inner feelings
{Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, 1990).
Bisexuality is the condition where an individual experiences sexual
attraction toward members of their own sex as well as the opposite sex and has the
desire to engage In sexual relationships with both groups (Encyclopedia, 1990).
Transgendered refers to those individuals who believe they were bom as
one sex but are emotionally and mentally the opposite sex. At times this confusion of
identity results In cross-dressing; at other times it includes medical efforts to actually
change sexes {Encyclopedia, 1990).
88


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Press, New York.
Rothenberg, Paula S.
2000 The Invention of Heterosexuality, Jonathan Ned Katz, Race, Class, and
Gender In the United States, Worth Publishers, NY 2000.
Schaefer, Richard T.
2001 Sociology, McGraw Hill, Boston.
Shilts, Randy
1987 And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, St.
Martins Press. New York.
Shilts, Randy
1998 Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians In the U S. Military.
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Shilts, Randy
1988 The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, St. Martin
Press. New York
Stein, Peter L.
1998 The Castro. A television documentary produced by KQED, San Francisco.
Utah AIDS Foundation
1995 Volunteer Training Manual. Compiled by UAF staff.
White, Ryan and Ann Marie Cunningham
1991 Ryan White: My Own Story, Dial Books, New York.
FOLLOWING ARE THE CODED NAMES OF INTERVIEWEES
Betty. Denver, Colorado. March 21, 2001
Bud. Denver, Colorado. June 12, 2001
Byron. Denver, Colorado. May 9, 2001
Carl. Denver, Colorado. April 13, 2001
Cary. Salt Lake City, Utah. March 20, 2001
Charles. Salt Lake City, Utah. March 20, 2001
Dan. Denver, Colorado. May 22,2001
Dave. Salt Lake City, Utah. March 20,2001
Donald. Denver, Colorado. May 24, 2001
Peter. Denver, Colorado. June 7,2001
Randy. Denver, Colorado. June 20, 2001
Sterling. Salt Lake City, Utah. March 21,2001
Tom. Denver, Colorado. June 14,2001
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lflV/AIDS AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT FOR THE GAY/LESBIAN/BISEXUAL!TRANSGENDERED POPULATION by Frank J. Shaw B.S., Weber State University, 1999 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Political Science 2001

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This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Frank J. Shaw has been approved by tz .o3ol Date

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Shaw, Frank J. (M.A., Political Science) lllV/AIDS AND THE CIVlL RIGHTS MOVEMENT FOR THE GAY/LESBIAN/BISEXUALITRANSGENDERED POPULATION Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Anna Sampaio ABSTRACT This thesis begins with an overview of the gay/lesbianlbisexualltransgendered community in American society. The thesis introduces excerpts from interviews with members of the GLBT community as they discuss their "coming out" as well as how they have dealt with the emergence of the lllV I AIDS epidemic. The thesis answers questions about the significant events in the lives of those in the GLBT community as they confronted the lllV/AIDS epidemic and what impact that epidemic had on individuals as they became involved in the GLBT liberation movement. The research for the thesis included interviews with members of the GLBT community in Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado Interviews were initiated by use of a questionnaire and expanded to a broader discussion of the interviewee's personal experience This abstract accurately represents the content of the catltataate s its publication. Signed iii

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CONTENTS CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Purpose of the Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Methods of Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 The Study Sample ...................................... 7 Thesis Outline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 2. U.S. ATTITUDE TOWARD SEXUALITY ....... : ............. 13 The Victorian Influence ... ........... ............ ...... 13 Medical and Scientific Views Change ......................... 15 A New Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 New Chapters, New Alliances ............................ 22 Stonewall Riot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Attitudes in 20th Centwy America . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 San Francisco and West Coast Activism ....... : .... ....... 29 A Controversial Court Action ........................... 35 Legalization of Relationships .................. .......... 36 The New Menace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Escalating Activism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 3. "COMING OUT" -IN TIIElR OWN WORDS . . . . . . . . . 47 Taking a Stand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Voices .... ......................................... 50 Family and Friends. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Work .............................................. 59 Activism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . 63 4. GLBT REACTION TO IllY/AIDS .............................. 65 . . . . . . . . . .......................... 65 Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation ........................... 71 Summary .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 5. CONCLUSIONS ........................................... 78 iv

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APPENDIX A. INDIVIDUAL QUESTIONNAIRE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 B. AGENCY QUESTIONNAIRE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 C. CONSENT FORM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 D. GLOSSARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 REFERENCES ......................... . . . . . . . . . . . 89 v

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW "The ultimate goal is for us to have the same rights that others have, not special rights, just the same, to be treated like everyone else. If my brother gets to marry who he wants then I get to marry who I want as long as it's based on love. That's what it comes down to. I would like us to be protected because we are targeted just like blacks in the south, gays in America are a targeted group including here in Utah. Gay bashing goes on and it needs to be stopped. My forefathers were persecuted for being Mormons or for being polygamists and they should know what it's like. And I don't know why they can tum around and do the same thing to us. I feel like I'm being a pioneer just like my ancestors." These are the words of"Cary" (March 20, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah) who spoke for himself but whose message echoed that of many who seek civil rights for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals. Purpose of the Study The intent of this study was to record the experiences of gay/lesbian/bisexual/ transgendered (GLBT) individuals as they sought to gain equal treatment under the law. One component of this research was to determine the extent to which the emergence ofiDV/AIDS in the GLBT community was a contributing factor in the decisions of individuals in that community to publicly acknowledge their sexuality and to what extent it provided the motivation for their decisions to become involved in the movement to gain civil rights for the GLBT population. I

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Gay men were among the first victims of this disease -a latter day plague which would become a flashpoint of feelings, attitudes, and responses in both the homosexual and heterosexual segments of society. Initially the response among gay r men was fear and uncertainty as to both the cause and the extent of the illness. This reaction was fueled in part by the thinking of some elements in society who believed that the disease was a divine action against improper behavior. This group held that what needed elimination was not the illness but rather the activity that caused the spread of the disease. Key questions needed to be answered: What could be done to prevent the spread of the sickness? How soon and to what extent would the scientific and medical professions focus their efforts on combating this virus? What would be the degree of concern, support, and involvement by the government in mobilizing its agencies to aid those affected? What would be the efforts of the media in publicizing the disease's impact and informing the public about countering its spread? What would be the response of the infected and their supporters in educating the heterosexual majority who appeared unresponsive to this health care disaster? Could this attack upon the health and well-being of gay men become a means to enlighten the heterosexual society to the struggles and obstacles confronting the GLBT community in theit efforts to overcome discrimination and achieve their long-denied civil rights? These were some of the questions this study sought to answer in microcosm. 2

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In the history of civil rights, the issues central to those in the GLBT community have been among the last to be addressed. They have also been some of the most controversial, emotional, and divisive topics in today' s political and religious environment. Injustice against this community continues to be evidenced by legal decisions that are unequally applied to heterosexual and homosexual populations, religious practices that disallow members of the GLBT community to participate fully in church ordinances, and the unequal advantages given to members of the heterosexual community over those in the homosexual community in major social institutions including marriage, family, and health care. What is too infrequently evidenced by societal institutions is how little the goals and treatment expected by heterosexuals differ from the expectations of gay men and lesbians. The roots of these attitudes are buried deeply in American culture. The perceptions of the GLBT community are frequently based upon misunderstanding, intolerant judicial decisions, and stereotypical concepts of the community. The belief of many opposed to equality for those in the GLBT community is that somehow the recognition of equal status for them will diminish long held religious traditions regarding sexuality. The obstacles to obtaining civil rights for those in the GLBT community are formidable and the prospects for success not very favorable. Paula L. Ettelbrick, in her article "Confronting Obstacles to Lesbian and Gay Equality," deduces that there are two barriers to enactment oflegislation to protect GLBT (Rothenberg, 2000, 3

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p.498). They are, first, long-held opposition to gay men and lesbians, and second, a generalized antagonism for more civil rights. These are the challenges facing those in the GLBT community in their struggle to obtain equality. Methods of Study I decided to utilize a qualitative approach to this study that involved both a questionnaire and a face-to-face interview. I posed a number of open-ended questions to which the interviewees could respond in their own words. The focus of the interview was to obtain the personal perspectives of the interviewees on a number of questions: when they became aware of their sexual orientation, what circumstances surrounded their "coming out," what factors were significant in their becoming involved in GLBT activism, and what impact IDV/AIDS had in their lives. Additional questions sought to determine the status and future of the GLBT movement in their community and any suggestions they had for additional individuals to interview. A questionnaire was developed to obtain basic statistical data including optional questions on age and racial/ethnic heritage. Other information included how long the interviewee had resided in the city, the highest level of education achieved, and total household income. The last optional question was how the interviewee identified his or her own sexual orientation. To insure confidentiality, no individual was identified by his or her own name; names in the study were changed to protect the 4

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privacy of all interviewed. A consent form was read to all participants prior to starting each interview and their signatures were obtained. Data was collected in a series of interviews in Salt Lake City and Denver. The selection of Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado was based on two factors. One was that I had lived in both cities. During my residency in Utah, my wife was Executive Director of The Utah AIDS Foundation Her position gave me the opportunity to serve for several years as a volunteer where I became more aware of the plight of those in the GLBT community. I learned not only about the impact of the virus on that community, but also about the struggle the community faced in gaining equal treatment. Secondly, since much has been researched and written about larger metropolitan areas, most prominently San Francisco, California and New York City, I concluded that two intermountain cities with approximately equal metropolitan populations would provide an interesting study to add to the more commonly studied cities The unique influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City provided a different perspective since this dominant religion has permeated not only all aspects of its adherents' lives, but has also transcended the boundaries of its faith to affect the lives of all state residents. Since Denver, Colorado does not have a single faith religious influence, it provided a distinct contrast to the religious hegemony found in Salt Lake City. 5

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My extended volunteer tenure with the Utah AIDS Foundation provided numerous contacts with individuals and agencies that could provide other contacts that would prove beneficial in this study. In Denver, however, it was unclear in the beginning whether there would be individuals willing to be open and honest in talking with me. Also, since I was using the snowball technique, I knew I would have little control over the demographic characteristics of those who participated in this study. Interviewees included individuals from the GLBT community, representatives ofGLBT organizations and advocacy groups, staff members from health agencies which serve the HIV/AIDS community, and leaders of religious institutions. The sampling technique that I utilized was the snowball process in which interviewees suggest others agreeable to being interviewed. After reviewing the literature about homosexuality and about HIV I AIDS, I became aware that I might find difficulty in getting members of the GLBT community to trust me enough to share their true feelings. Since I was relatively unknown in the GLBT community in Salt Lake City and completely unknown in this community in Denver, I was concerned that some members of the community might not trust my motives While I expected that most would respond to the efforts of a graduate student, there was a concern that some might be so distrustful of the "system" that they would doubt my ability to maintain their anonymity. In addition, because of my choice of the snowball technique in interviewing, there was the possibility that I would have difficulty finding enough individuals to interview. neither of these 6

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concerns were a reality as I found individuals very willing to share their own stories and eager to introduce me to others. I began by contacting directors of agencies that provide supportive services to the GLBT community and asked their assistance in recruiting members of their staff together with their suggestions of other possible interviewees. At least 15 individuals were interviewed in each city including representatives of at least three agencies. In Salt Lake City, Utah, I contacted The Utah AIDS Foundation, The People With AIDS Coalition, The Center (GLBT Community Center), and the American Civil Liberties Union. In Denver, Colorado, I met with The Colorado AIDS Project, The Denver Department of Health, The People of Color Consortium Against AIDS (POCCA), and the founding members of the Mattachine Society. This list was expanded as contacts were established. Study Sample The purpose of this study was to assess and analyze the thoughts, experiences, and perspectives of members of the GLBT community and others in Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado who had supported that community's efforts to achieve equal treatment in society. Included were thoughts and circumstances that led to an individual's "coming out" together with the reactions of family, friends, and associates, and what impact HIV/AIDS had on their involvement in the GLBT civil rights movement . 7

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To achieve this goal, I set out to interview a broad spectrum of individuals who could provide diverse ethnic backgrounds, age groups, and educational and income levels. I interviewed men and women in each city who self-identified as heterosexual and who self-identified as homosexual. I anticipated that most of those who were willing to be interviewed would be under the age of 40. I expected that the influence of religion would be much stronger among interviewees in Salt Lake City than in Denver. I believed that most interviewees would be knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS and would have some awareness of what was happening in the GLBT community regarding the struggle for civil rights. I also expected to find that HIV/AIDS would be identified as a significant factor leading to involvement in the GLBT movement for most of the interviewees. At the end ofthe study, I found that the final sample included a wide range of ages: 11% of respondents were between 18 34, 41% of respondents were between 35-45, 26% were between 46-65, and 22% were over the age of65. This wide range of ages provided an interesting perspective on the liberation movement since at least 22% of respondents were active in the GLBT movement prior to the emergence ofHIV/AIDS. Even though the age distribution of respondents was varied, the respondents were primarily Caucasian, 93%, with only 7% Hispanic and no respondents from any other ethnic group. Since I used the snowball technique in sampling, the ethnicity of respondents tended to reflect the first individuals interviewed. This was especially true 8

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of interviews in Salt Lake City, Utah where the demographic make-up of the city is largely Caucasian. It continued with the interviews in Denver; even with a more diverse population, since the first respondents interviewed in Denver were long-time acquaintances and over the age of 65, it reflected a mainly Caucasian group. When analyzing the sample, I found that the distribution of interviewees by household income was nearly equally divided: 19% of respondents had a total household income below $25,000; 33% had income between $25,000 $35,000; 22% had income between $35,000-$50,000; and 26% had income over $50,000. The totals indicate that almost half of the respondents earned $35,000 or more annually. The distribution of interviewees by education revealed that 56% of respondents had a college degree with another 33% with at least some graduate study. The remaining 7% had some college and 4% had a high school education. According to respondents' own self-identification, the final sample indicated that 60% were gay, 7% were lesbian, and 33% were straight. None self-identified as either bisexual or transgendered. Thesis Outline Chapter Two presents the evolving attitudes toward human sexuality, beginning with the early concept that sexual intercourse was for the purpose of procreation only and moving toward later concepts that describe and eroticism as legitimate bases for sex. This progression introduces the reality of gay 9

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and lesbian relationships, how society views those who practice homosexuality, and the heterosexual majority's efforts to deny equal rights to the GLBT population. These issues are examined from the perspective of the religious, scientific, and legal communities. The chapter traces the GLBT liberation movement from being passive and fearful of exclusion from the larger society to becoming active in working to establish organizations, networks, and strategies to accomplish their objectives of equal civil rights with heterosexuals. The latter part of the chapter introduces the emergence oflllV/AIDS. Chapter Three seeks to personalize members of the GLBT community as the interviewees describe the circumstances and individuals involved in their "coming out" and to what extent the emergence ofHIV/AIDS prompted their decision to reveal their sexual orientation. "Coming out" involves the resolution of psychological, emotional, and sexual considerations culminating in the acceptance of one's self. It is the act of identifying with a group and taking a public position. Whereas members of most minority groups are readily identified and discriminated against based on an outwardly visible trait such as race, ethnicity, language, gender or disability, members of the GLBT community must commit an overt act in order to identify with their group. The participants describe the implications and consequences of acknowledging their sexual orientation and how the revelation affected their relationships with family and friends. They express their sentiments on the impact of religion in their lives and how "coming out" meant they could no longer be active in their churches . The 10

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decision might also result in loss of employment and possibly moving to a new community. "Coming out" is easier today and there are numerous support groups and agencies available to make this transition less difficuh, but it still remains a decision fraught with many implications. Chapter Four presents the interviewees' thoughts, feelings, and actions in response to the IDV/AIDS epidemic. It examines the techniques employed in creating public awareness of the health care crisis and the strategies employed to engage governmental and medical response to the lllV/AIDS epidemic. To achieve their objectives, controversial and unorthodox methods were used by some members of the GLBT community. Shock and confrontation became the recognized tools used by ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). This chapter also explores what extent the onset oflllV/AIDS played in GLBT activism as well as what were perceived as positive aspects of the virus. Chapter Five summarizes the findings of the interviews. The findings from the interviews were not in accord with my initial expectations. History records that two events were instrumental in the mobilization to attain GLBT civil rights' efforts: the Stonewall Riot and the lllV/AIDS epidemic. The degree to which IllV/AIDS was a motivating influence for gay men and lesbians to become active in gay/lesbian liberation was less than I anticipated. Long-standing discrimination and unequal treatment were key issues for the majority of the interviewees. 11

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This study was an enlightening experience for me. It provided me with the opportunity to gain increased knowledge about the long held institutional factors that stand against homosexual orientation while allowing me the chance to interact with individuals and organizations that were instrumental in efforts to advance this cause. Many of the individuals I met in both the GLBT and heterosexual populations had been working for decades to gain GLBT civil rights. The interviewees in Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado provided me with insightful perspectives on the emotional, familial, and political factors that gay men and lesbians faced in coming out, in confronting the impact oflllV/AIDS, and initiating their involvement in the struggle for GLB T civil rights. My initial expectations were not fully realized in the findings; this was due in part to the greater age of many of the interviewees. Their efforts supporting GLBT civil rights pre-dated both the Stonewall Riots and the onset oflllV/AIDS, the two events most widely acknowledged as significant factors to mobilization. 12

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CHAPTER TWO U. S. ATTITUDE TOWARD SEXUALITY "The routine denial of civil rights to gays and lesbians reflects a powerful prejudice, one so pervasive and so connected to everything else in society that it is treacherously hard to isolate. Even when not activated into energetic hostility, this prejudice is deeply rooted in and continually reaffirmed by the rituals of family formation, child-rearing, ahd gender in our culture" (Nava, 1994, p.4). The Victorian Influence This chapter provides a brief examination of twentieth century America's perspective of sexuality. It includes attitudes regarding the purposes of sexual relationships, together with what was judged to be acceptable as well as unacceptable behavior. With this background, the challenge for the GLBT community to overcome discriminatory attitudes and push for equality is clear. It was into this environment that gay and lesbian organizations emerged, organizations that encouraged members of the GLBT community to acknowledge their orientation, take pride in their identity, and begin to assert their desire for their long denied civil rights. But, along with the new found activism and advocacy for their movement came the introduction of IDV/AIDS that brought a new dynamic to their cause. To understand the obstacles that confronted them. one must understand that most examinations of sexuality are rooted solely in the context of heterosexuality. Many aspects of Western and European history, tradition, and religious teaching are 13

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founded upon the relationship between opposite sexes and the corresponding construction of gender. The Victorian concept of"true love" consisted of marriage and sex only for the reason of procreation (Rothenberg, 2000). For many, this formed the only basis for sexual relations. Few aspects of an individual's life are as personal as his or her sexual practices. This Victorian belief system intentionally isolated countless individuals who were drawn to others of the same sex or both sexes. Individuals who experienced this attraction or acted upon it were subject to ridicule, assaults, imprisonment, and even death. These views of people with a non-traditional sexual orientation extended well into the nineteenth century when new social perspectives regarding sexuality were introduced (Rothenberg, 2000). The traditional and accepted familial arrangements, dating from the colonial founding of this country, have been based upon relationships between members of the opposite sex. The development of the country was predicated upon growth and expansion, and an individual's wealth included the number of family members. The more children one bad, the greater the chances for success. The increase in population was an essential ingredient in the emergence of the new country. The motivation for numerous descendants, together with the belief that the sexual union of two people was for the sole purpose of creation of offspring, heralded a strict lifestyle that ignored a sexual relationship that had any other purpose. Any relationship that did not embody the similar concepts was considered wrong. The body was simply considered a 14

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mechanism by which procreation occurred, and pleasure was not part of the equation (Rothenberg, 2000, p 67). Medical and Scientific Views Change In the mid to late nineteenth century a new concept emerged to define the sexual relationship eroticism. Societal attitudes were changing; the Victorian belief in a work ethic that placed high value on e(!onomic production and children was changing to one of consumption and personal pleasure and gratification The medical and scientific community also played a key role in the changing perspective of male female relationships. Prior to this era, women who enjoyed sex were derided for their feelings, but by the late nineteenth century physicians would ascribe "a new medical model ofNormal Love) replete with a healthy libido" (Rothenberg, p.70 ). Rothenberg (2000) relates that the end of the nineteenth century brought the use of the term "heterosexual" for the first time in an article written by Dr. James G. Kiernan of Chicago when he presented a paper to a Chicago medical group. However, his definition ofheterosexual is not the meaning commonly understood today.1 Kiernan determined that it was a "psychical hermaphroditism" that included "inclinations to both sexes His article also included his use of the tenn "homosexual" that he defined as having the "general mental state of the opposite sex" (Rothenberg, 2000, p. 70). 1 See the Glossary for current definitions. 15

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The year ofDr. Kiernan's publication (1892) brought the introduction of Dr. Psychopathia Sexualis A Seminal Work which provided an expanded definition that would become the measure of sexual relationships. In this work, sexuality was defined not simply as procreation but also as relating to pleasure. KrafftEbing's positioning of the heterosexual relationship remains the basis from which variations in sexual behavior are measured even today. KrafftEbing theorized "'an inborn sexual instinct' for relations with the opposite sex, the inherent purpose of which was to foster procreation" (Rothenberg, 2000, p. 71 ). He believed that an erotic desire was still a "reproductive instinct" This conclusion marked the demarcation from a long-held standard that procreation was the only justification for a sexual relationship. After KrafREbing, sexual relations would no longer be seen to be confined to reproduction. The post World War IT years brought renewed attention to the sexual experience. A landmark publication, Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948), brought controversy and discussion to the public's attention. Among the issues raised in its work was the question of normality and abnormality in sexual relations, together with the revelation that homosexual contacts were more frequent than previously thought. Kinsey's work brought to an end the popular conclusion that there was a clearly defined separation between homosexuality and heterosexuality. What had previously been considered a "black versus white" issue now took on shades of gray in regard to sexual identity. 16

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The findings by Kinsey brought into question many of the previously held conclusions regarding what was considered "normal" and "abnormal" sexual behavior, and also questioned the necessity of retaining the terms in the scientific vocabulary (Rothenberg, 2000, p.74). Just as controversial was his questioning of the commonly held conclusion "that human beings represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual" (Rothenberg, 2000, p.74). Kinsey's conclusion was that human beings could not be divided into two groups that were exclusively homosexual or heterosexual, but that there were gradations within sexual orientation. And, while it was 'not simply a matter of heterosexual or homosexual, this decision was not nature's identification, but rather one of human categorization. A New Or2anization Into this new era would come organizations that would support the GLBT community. One of the first organizations in America to organize gay men was founded in 1950 by Harry Hay in Los Angeles, California. He named it the Mattachine Society. He took the name from a "French medieval and Renaissance Societe Machine," a masked musical group, because his contention was that gay men were also masked in society (Dynes, 1990, p. 779). Not long after its founding, the Mattachine Society had its first successful civil rights effort. In early 1952, a founding member of the group was entrapped by police officers. Almost immediately he called a meeting of the Society and the decision was 17

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made to create a group designated the Citizens Committee to Outlaw Entrapment that would also publicize the details of the incident. The group was unable to get the attention of the media and instead used printed materials that they distributed in areas known to have large homosexual populations. Subsequently, when a trial was scheduled, he admitted his homosexuality, but also repudiated the facts of his arrest. After lengthy deliberation, the jury could not reach a verdict and the charges were dropped. The vigor and determination of the group in fighting the charge brought significant reeognition to the organization (Dynes, 1900). The Society's growing support motivated Hay to form a nonprofit educational organization, the purpose of which was to do research on homosexuality and use the results as part of a "educational campaign" for homosexual rights (Dynes, 1990, p. 780). Hay and the small group of associates were either Communist party members or members of other known leftist organizations. Since they were influenced by the political climate of the time, they created a cell-like group with secret meetings. In time, however, the ties between the leaders of the Mattachine Society and the Communist Party became a serious impediment to the viability of the efforts of the Society tp grow and extend its influence. Since many Americans held strong convictions concerning the more subversive elements of the Communist party, this association would have an ongoing deleterious impact on the organization (D'Emilio, 1983). 18

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The emergence of the McCarthy era finally forced Hay and the other founders of the Society to resign from their positions in the Mattachine Society. In November, 1953, new leadership was installed and a new approach adopted. The society's founders publicly disavowed their former ties with the Communist party and the organization fried to accomplish its objectives by working only through "respected" individuals and organizations. The consequences of this change in the direction of the organization were catastrophic since the Society became a gay organization in name only. Since the revised philosophical position adopted by the new leadership urged members to align with the mores of society and their lifestyle was at odds with society's mores, there was no longer any reason to belong to the Society and membership dropped (D'Emilio, 1983). Though the Mattachine Society's mission was to champion the cause of homosexual civil rights, it did not actively recruit lesbians into the organization. Thus lesbian representation, which was always a minority," dropped to mere token numbers. The low point for the Society came when it denied that it was "an organization of homosexuals" (D'Emilio, 1983, p.87). This announcement repudiated the original mission of the Society to support homosexual civil rights, denied its reason for existence, and eliminated the primary reason for gay men and lesbians to join the organization. A counter force to the lack of perceived militancy by the Mattachine Society was the magazine, One, founded in Los Angeles in 1953, by Dale Jennings and Chuck 19

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Rowland, founding members of the Society. As they became more disillusioned with the new direction the Society was taking, they created the magazine to uphold a philosophy which instilled pride in being gay or lesbian. Their position was that those who knew the most about gay/lesbian issues were gays and lesbians themselves. The magazine's pages were filled with articles that led to public debate, especially the articles which focused on the treatment of gay men. The magazine became an open forum for gays and lesbians to express pride and opinion about their identity during the 1950s (D'Emilio, 1983, p .87). The 1950s also saw the establishment of the first lesbian political organization, the Daughters ofBilitis (DOB). This name was taken from an erotic poem entitled "Songs ofBilitis" .which was a significant work for lesbians; to the general public, however, its name sounded like that of a mainstream women's organization. Using the Mattachine Society as a they soon joined forces with it and the publishers of One and worked in a cooperative relationship throughout the 1950s. Though there existed a close relationship with the Mattachine Society, the DOBs focused on the major problems confronting women, which included their greater isolation and invisibility. Their publication, The Ladder, was directed at this segment of women, especially those residing outside metropolitan areas The two groups were together throughout the 1950s though The Ladder was published in San Francisco and One was printed in Los Angeles. This relationship was based on two considerations: both 20

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organizations were small and they believed that one publication could protect the other (Cruikshank, 1992). During the 1950s, the efforts of these groups to establish chapters throughout the United States met with little success and membership in these organizations remained minimal. Due to their limited membership, their yearly convention became a highlight for the movements. In 1950, the Mattachine Society decided to schedule its annual convention in Denver, Colorado, the only occasion on which it was held outside of California or New York (D'Emilio, 1983) A man calling himself"Carl Harding," founder of the Denver chapter of the Mattachine Society (whom I later interviewed), was the driving force behind arranging the Denver convention, and he decided to break from the past by having a press conference. During the press conference, photographs were taken of the officers of the Mattachine Society who were later identified in the newspaper by their real names. "The convention received excellent coverage in The Denver Post, with three articles that quoted from the participants at length and treated the homophile movement fairly and seriously'' (D'Emilio, 1983, p.l20). However, not all public reaction was favorable. The openness of the convention would have disastrous results for many. Colorado legislator Robert Allen accused the Denver Vice Squad of being "all too often the most ignorant in matters of sexual behavior" (D'Emilio, 1983, p.120). What went unnoticed during the convention was the attendance of two "morals officers" who reported to the police and, subsequently, another member of the group 21

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was arrested for violating Denver's antipornography law because he had photographs of nude men in his possession. Subsequently, the man was jailed and discharged from his job. The negative publicity together with the identification of other members of the organization resulted in a reduced membership that was never replaced (D'Emilio, 1983). The early 1960s saw continued fragmentation of the Society as a bicoastal rivalry developed between the New York and San Francisco chapters. New York was the largest chapter of the organization and it alleged that the California group had mismanaged the financial affairs of the organization and subsequently requested that the "national board dissolve the organization, leaving each group to fend for itself' (D'Emilio, 1983, p.123). The New York chapter continued as an independent organization, maintaining its name and ignoring protests from the San Francisco chapter. New Chapters, New Alliances The start of the 60s saw the emergence of a new personality dedicated to gay and lesbian activism. Franklin Kameny proved to be a significant actor in this period when he was dismissed from government service for an arrest for "lewd conduct" prior to his employment. As an openly gay male astronomer with a doctorate from Harvard, he fought his separation in court for two-and-one-half years but ultimately lost his appeal. During the appeals process, he determined that a group fighting for gay and 22

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lesbian rights would be more effective than an individual seeking the same objective. Equipped with impeccable academic credentials and intellectual ability, he was detennined to use a proactive approach rather than the neutrality practiced by the movement in the 1950s. Kameny stated, "It is absolutely necessary to be prepared to take definite, unequivocal positions upon supposedly controversial matters" (D'Emilio, 1983, p.l52). Kameny became a prime mover in the Mattachine Society's Washington D.C. chapter. The focus of the organization's ire was the government, especially the Civil Service Commission, and its discriminatory policies that forced homosexuals out of Pentagon positions, together with their expulsion from the military. The aftermath of the Washington chapter's challenging of government policies toward homosexuals soon attracted the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In a ground breaking case, the organization was joined by the ACLU in supporting the case of Bruce Scott who was denied employment based upon "convincing evidence of homosexual conduct" (D'Emilio, 1983, p.l55). The U. S. Court of Appeals ruled that the allegations against Scott were too vague to disqualify him from federal employment; thus providing gay men and lesbians with their first favorable decision in this important area (Scott v. Macy, 349 F. 2d 182 1965). In this landmark case, two organizations, the Mattachine Society and the ACLU, collaborated to champion the cause of civil rights for gay men and lesbians. Other practices challenged by the Washington D.C. chapter of the Mattachine Society 23

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included the harassment of gay men by the District of Columbia police. Complaints by the chapter in conjunction with those of the ACW resulted in a change in the manner in which gay men would be treated by the department in the future (D'Emilio, 1983, p.156). New York was where another activist became a catalyst for civil rights. In 1961, Randy Wicker, who had previously been involved in activism at the University of Texas, was fiustrated with the policies of the local chapter of the Mattachine Society and left the organization to establish the Homosexual League of New York. In what was a fortuitous circumstance for him, a radio broadcast in 1962 featured participation of homosexuals and psychiatrists in a forum about homosexuality. Following the controversial broadcast, Wicker was able to use his new-found celebrity to persuade several publishers to print articles on the homosexual movement. He was also successful in providing material for a "major series on sex and the law" for the New York Post (D'Emilio, 1983, p.159). The consciousness-raising publicity for the gayflesbian civil rights movement by Wicker and Kameny resulted in a meeting in January 1963 in Philadelphia. They gathered representatives from four groups: DOB, the Mattachine Chapters from Washington and New York, and the Janus Society from Philadelphia (the reorganized Mattachine Society chapter). As a result of the meeting, a coalition was formed known as the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO). This organization attracted many activists who were responsible for developing a communications 24

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network among several chapters of the Mattachine Society. The expressed objectives were to increase the militancy of the chapters while creating a closer collaboration among the groups (D'Emilio, 1983). By 1965 the activists' objectives included eliminating the medical profession's practice of classifying homosexuality as an illness. This assertiveness, combined with a desire to begin public picketing for gay rights, resulted in an internal rift between the activists and those who were reluctant to use confrontational techniques. The activist approach won out, and the group proved very beneficial in coordinating the militant segment of the gay/lesbian movement over the next several years. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not bring a halt to all forms of discrimination, rather" ... discrimination based upon sexual orientation of the subject was upheld by the courts as a right to eliminate 'immoral' persons from the workforce or from housing" (Dynes, 1990, p.321). Not until the 1970s were some anti discrimination statutes passed, and it is only in recent history that some of the most onerous forms oflegal discrimination against GLBT (i.e., sodomy statues, ban of gay marriages) have been impacted. Stonewall Riot One of the most significant events in galvanizing both activists and members of the GLBT community both in New York and across the country in the 1960s was the Stonewall Riot. On June 28, 1969, New York City police raided an after-hours gay 25

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gathering place, the Stonewall Bar. In previous situations, patrons had simply dispersed, but on this occasion, the bar patrons locked the police inside the bar and began to riot until reinforcements arrived For three nights, gay men and lesbians continued to march through the streets ofNew York City in their efforts to protest what they saw as discrimination by the police (Alwood, 1996). This raid was not an isolated police action. The gay community was aware that it was an election year, and if the past was an indicator, the police would again target gay men as election day neared. The police department continued its history of removing those they saw as "unsavory" individuals from the streets in order to maintain a safer environment for the "law-abiding" citizens. The department announced that its efforts were in conjunction with the courts in seeking this objective. This was evidenced earlier in the year in newspaper reports. The New York Times published a story in February reporting that, "The police began a crackdown on drunks, homosexuals, loiterers, and other undesirables in Times Square last night" (Alwood, 1996, p.80). To keep the pressure on, the Times' editorial ofFebruary 17 urged the police to persist in controlling "muggers and degenerates" (Alwood, 1996, p.87). It was clearly evident from the editorial slant of the newspaper that it equated homosexuals with criminals. There were more police raids on gay bars in early June and harassment continued until it reached the point where a New York City statute was passed that "required everyone to wear a minimum of three articles of clothing 26

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appropriate to one's gender" (Alwood, 1996, p.82). This ongoing harassment of gay men reached a climax in late June "Although some gay activists attempted to build a social movement well before the 1960s, it was the 1969 rebellion at New York's Stonewall Bar that first caught public attention and inspired the modem gay rights movement" (Rimmerman, p.3) This raid by police on a gay bar became a symbol of discrimination, violence, and resistance that evolved into the basis of a new pride and self-confidence for gay men. This attack at the Stonewall Bar would not be the last incident between the police and gay men. The next evening the police again returned to the area where another ugly confrontation occurred. This was followed by two more police raids within a three day period (Alwood, 1996, p.86). The Stonewall Riot of the late 1960s was more than an attack on a gay bar It became the launching pad of a new vitalization of gays and lesbians who would borrow from the techniques of the civil rights movement Militant groups were organized such as the Gay/Lesbian Front, The Third World Gay Revolution, and The Radicalesbians. They held a new image of themselves one of pride with more strident tactics aimed at gaining recognition and publicity and determination to gain their civil rights. The members of the community began to see themselves in a different light, proud of their orientation and willing to take public stands and engage in civil disobedience regarding the discrimination perpetrated against them (Rimmerman, 2000). 27

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This situation has much in common with the activism that was later created by the attack ofHIV/AIDS in the GLBT community. The community was under attack although the focus was different, one was physical attack by a known source -:the police -and the second was physical attack from an unknown source the virus. Both crises were evidence that gay men and lesbians would no longer simply be non reactive. In the wake of Stonewall, gay and lesbian activists borrowed from other militant groups such as the New Left and the Black Power movement, to form their own organizations. More confrontational and strident than previous groups, they organized sit-ins in the offices of media that presented perspectives of gay men and lesbians only in a negative light. They picketed and protested meetings of psychiatrists who equated gay with sick. For them, it was paramount for individuals to come out of the closet and become visible in every segment of society as the first step in gaining freedom. They were also alert to language which unequally dealt with sexuality depending upon whether or not it was heterosexuality or homosexuality and insisted that such discrimination was a form of injustice (Rimmerman, 2000). Once these organizing efforts began, their growth was rapid. "On the eve of Stonewall ... there were perhaps fifty gay and lesbian social organizations in the United States. By 1973, four years after Stonewall, there were over eight hundred" (D'Emilio, 1983, p 35) 28

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This new self-image was an important ingredient in laying the groundwork for their efforts to achieve gay/lesbian civil rights. According to D'Emilio (1983), prior to Stonewall, gay men and lesbians "tended to adopt one of two approaches to social change: (I) the reform oflaws, public policies, and institutional practices so that lesbians and gay men enjoyed fair and equal treatment, and/or (2) the building of institutions designed to create a strong, cohesive and visible community" (D'Emilio, 1983, p.36). However, with the mounting harassment of gay men and lesbians and particularly its intensification at Stonewall, a new era of GLBT activism would be ushered in one which centered on the assertion of an oppositional political and personal position. The harassment of gay men and lesbians by the authorities could be validated for many on the basis of religious and philosophical considerations. The rationale behind these actions and the failure of both government and societal agencies to protect this population was the second class status accorded gay men and lesbians. Attitudes in 20th Century America San Francisco and West Coast Activism No attempt to explore the activism of the gay/lesbian civil rights movement is complete without consideration of the influence of San Francisco and its gay subculture. Two factors were important to the dynamic west coast movement: the 29

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North Beach area of the city and the literati who presented their works which protested society's attitude toward homosexuality. The writers of the "beat" culture would produce numerous works that took stands against the prevailing values of the middle class especially their stance on homosexuality (D'Emilio, 1983, p.180). In 1964 several gay activists, along with some individuals frustrated by the inadequate progress of gay/lesbian civil rights, agreed that there was a need for a politically effective organization. It was called the Society for Individual Rights (SIR). This organization would be the west coast counterpart of ECHO. The organization "pledged itself to a 'democratic process' that would include 'all expressions of the homosexual community"' (D'Emilio, 1983, p.190). To achieve this objective required including the bar scene as an integral segment of organizational process. Gay bars were environments where gay men and lesbians could congregate and socialize with their peers. The bars offered a variety of social opportunities from dances to recreational activities to cultural events, all as a means of creating increased membership. Additionally, to meet the needs of the gay community, the organization operated a thrift shop and, in 1966, established the first gay community center in the United States in San Francisco (D'Emilio, 1983, p.191). In a little over two years, membership grew to nearly 1000 making it the largest gay/lesbian rights organization in the United States. Central to the success of SIR was the realization that bars and taverns werc;l important in the lives of gay men 30

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which led to their subsequent use to raise the political consciousness of the group (D'Emilio, 1983). The late 60s saw an explosion of growth in the working class area of the Eureka Valley surrounding 18th and Castro Streets in San Francisco. Two factors were responsible for the appeal: one was that many city residents had moved to the suburbs during the late 50s leaving many unoccupied homes, and, secondly, that many of the available homes were attractive Victorian-styled dwellings. The majority of newcomers were gay men or gay couples with high incomes. Their arrival brought a change in the make-up of the neighborhood and their influence on the politics, philosophy, culture and economy of the area would soon be felt. It would not be long before the neighborhood would be renamed "The Castro" (Stein, 1998). From this enclave came political, financial, and cultural influences that would have a long-lasting impact on the San Francisco political scene. Unlike the civil rights movement in the Afiican American community, prior to the 1960s involvement by the religious community had been absent from the GLBT liberation movement However, as the emerging civil rights movement grew, clergy, especially young black ministers, were becoming sensitized to gay/lesbian concerns. In the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, the minister of the Glide Memorial Methodist Church, Reverend A Cecil Williams, realized the need to minister to this growing population of gay men which was suffering from social injustice. To assist him he brought a youthful social worker/minister, Ted Mcllvenna, from Kansas City to the 31

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gay community. Mcllvenna began an outreach program to the gay male population and was soon accepted as a regular speaker at meetings within the community (D'Emilio, 1983, p.193). Along with Mcllvenna's efforts, Rev Williams was subsequently able to enlist the participation of other ministers in his work to achieve social justice for gay men and lesbians. After Stonewall, many activists became involved in politics and sought to enact laws and ordinances that would protect gay men and lesbians. Button, Rienzo, and Wald posit that big cities and university towns were where the majority ofGLBT political organizations were most active. These organizations assisted in the enactment of gay rights laws in Berkeley and Palo Alto, California; Ann Arbor and East Lansing, Michigan; and Madison, Wisconsin. Major cities that developed laws to protect individuals because of their sexual orientation included San Francisco, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. (Rimmerman, 2000). In the west, California gay men and lesbians were also experiencing opposition in the form of a proposed initiative that would have many subsequent incarnations. The 1978 proposal, known as the Briggs Initiative or Proposition 6, would require any school to discharge a known homosexual or any instructor who discussed homosexuality in a positive light in the classroom. This threat to teachers and gay men and lesbians led them to marshall a statewide coalition to defeat this dangerous initiative. Though initially destined for passage, a broad-based coalition of groups 32

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with diverse political views came to the support of the gay/lesbian community and was able to defeat the discriminatory proposition (Cruikshank, 1992; p.73). Soon to follow would be an event that focused worldwide attention on San Francisco and the plight of the GLBT population. On November 27, 1978, Harvey Milk, the first openly gay individual elected to office in a large city, was murdered. His death brought an outpouring of grief not only from the GLBT community but among non-gays as well, a grief that resulted in a candlelight march to City Hall. The murder of Milk became a galvanizing event in the history of the GLBT struggle to gain civil rights. The verdict and sentence brought against his killer was for many almost as outrageous as the act itself guilty of manslaughter with a of seven years. The emotions raised by this decision led to 5000 gay men marching to City Hall to protest this injustice and demand reforms in the city's treatment of all minorities (Cruikshank, 1992, p.74). This event also raised the stakes for anyone "coming out." No longer was the issue only legal discrimination. Now the price for identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered could also be physical attack and even death. The GLBT community had reason to be fearful and the fear was brought on by the supporters of the homophobic Briggs who exhorted his sympathizers to state their hatred for gay men and lesbians. There was even concern that gay bars and the offices of the Gay National Educational Switchboard might be bombed (Cruikshank, 1992). 33

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The traditions of the past were being confronted by the expectations of the future. This movement was being driven in part by a divergent group that were no longer impressed or guided by mainstream values. The consequences of these actions would be to "set themselves against not only the American government, but most forms of institutional authority'' (Rimmerman, 2000, p.35). The members of the GLBT community have lifestyles and relationships that have much in common with heterosexual familial arrangements. Gay men and lesbians live with their children from prior heterosexual relationships or with children they have adopted. Many forego "coming out" and continue to live in heterosexual marriage relationships. Schaffer cited a Health and Social Life Survey that found that nearly three percent of men and one-and-one-half percent of women stated they identified at some degree as a homosexual or bisexual (Schaffer, 2001, p.365). This did not mean that the GLBT movement did not have its opponents and it was important for the GLBT movement to break the tyranny of existing laws that discriminated again them. This could only be accomplished by challenging them in the courts. The 1960s brought a new awareness that produced debate, reflection, heated passions, injury, divisiveness and polarization in the struggle for civil rights by gay men and lesbians. The willingness of many individuals to support the efforts of women and African Americans to gain equality stopped short of those seeking the same objectives 34

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based upon sexual orientation. One of the key components of this new movement was confronting discrimination via court challenges. A Controversial Coyrt Action In a landmark decision Bowers v. Hardwick 478 U.S., 186, 106 S.CT. 2841 (1986), the majority held "moreover, any claim that these cases nevertheless stand for the proposition that any kind of private sexual conduct between consenting adults is constitutionally insulated from state proscription is unsupportable" (O'Brien, 1997, p.1192). What was at issue in the case was whether an individual's fundamental right of privacy relating to sexual acts conducted in private was violated by Georgia law. One of the individuals involved, Michael Hardwick, was arrested. Although the local prosecutor did not wish to prosecute, Hardwick decided to challenge the state law. The basis of the Georgia law was that it held unlawful either homosexual or heterosexual oral sex. illtimately the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Byron White that the state did have the authority to create such a law. The rationale of the majority held that there did not exist a fundamental right to privacy when extended to homosexual sodomy (Harvard Law Review, 1989, p.12). The mind set of the high court's majority was strongly expressed in the opinion by Chief Justice Warren Burger when he stated that homosexuality was "an offense of 35

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deeper malignity'' than rape, a heinous act "the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature," and "a crime not fit to be named" (Rimmennan, 2000, p.392). As crucial and telling as the decision of the court was in this case, the portent for future deliberations on GLBT civil rights created a pall on the community. The repercussions from future appeals to existing laws could provide increased validity for opponents of gay rights if they were denied by the court. Fewer aspects of life are more important to an individual than the right to privacy. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissent, "for an individual 'the constitutional right of privacy' embodies the moral fact that a person belongs to himself and not others nor to society as a whole" (Nava, 1994, p.59). The decision in Bowers v. Hardwick had a devastating impact for gay men and lesbians in their efforts to achieve equal treatment via the legal process. Aware of the philosophy of the Supreme Court justices and the anti-homosexual attitude of many in society, activists were reluctant to bring additional appeals to the courts that could result in additional unfavorable decisions. In addition, AIDS was developing into a health care crisis that diverted attention from litigation. Legalization ofRelationships One of the greatest concerns for homosexual couples remains the prohibition against legally recognized same-sex marriages. This failure to have their marriages recognized means that couples in the GLBT community cannot receive benefits 36

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associated with marriage. In an effort to overcome this discrimination, GLBT advocacy groups have pushed for recognition of domestic partnerships. A "domestic partnership may be defined as two unrelated adults who reside together, agree to be jointly responsible for their dependents, basic living expenses, and other common necessities, and share a mutually caring relationship. Domestic partnership benefits can apply to such areas as inheritance, parenting, pensions, taxation, housing, immigration, workplace fringe benefits, and health care" (Schaefer, 2001, p.365) The efforts to gain recognition of domestic partnerships, however, still face strong opposition from conservative groups, both religious and political, who feel that adoption of such partnerships would undermine the traditional nuclear family. Yet while those who support domestic partnerships argue that they fulfil the same functions as the more traditional family structure and should receive the same benefits, a 1998 General Social Survey revealed that "58 percent of respondents believe that homosexuality between two adults is always wrong while fully 28 percent feel it is not wrong. Sharp divisions in public opinion persist" (Schaefer, 2001, p.365). Integral to gay and lesbian progress in civil rights beginning in the mid-1970s was the necessity to reform existing laws. "One symptom of this status was the almost universal practice of American states and local communities to crirninalize gay sexual conduct under anti-sodomy codes" (Rimmerman, 2000, p.9). The impact of 37

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such legislation is not an historical relic? To combat this condition, organizations were founded for the purpose of utilizing litigation to correct the injustices of the past. Two key groups established in 1973 were the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Gay Task Force. What was developing among gay men and lesbians was an involvement in activities and organizations that was virtually non-existent prior to Stonewall. Not only was the visibility higher for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community, but changes were occurring in long-established thinking and political involvement (Rimmerman, 2000). This new activism was fueled in part by the prior mobilization and progress made by other minority groups in society seeking their long denied equal treatment under the law. This new awareness had its root in the concept that "gay is good" (Cruikshank, 1992, p.60). Gay and lesbian pride began to emerge as a source of strength and motivation in their efforts to achieve a new societal identity. Not only were gay men and lesbians gaining a new attitude about themselves, but concurrently society was experiencing a change especially among the younger generation. A new freedom regarding sexuality had arrived. No longer would gay men and lesbians be content to suffer abuse and discrimination silently. Cruikshank (1992) notes that in the early 70s "gay is good" was more than just a phrase; it was rather a new position to an "Despite widespread repeal of anti-sodomy statutes in the 1970s, private sexual conduct etween adults of the same gender remains a criminal act in twenty states" (Rimmerman, 000, p.9). 38

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old reality. It renounced previous concepts that homosexuality was wrong because someone said it was. The efforts towards civil rights progress would become the fuel for further coordinated efforts. A most significant decision occurred when "activists succeeded in persuading the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 to eliminate homosexuality from its list of mental disorders; two years later, the federal Civil Service Commission dropped its blanket ban on the employment oflesbians and gay men" (and)" ... in 1980 the Democratic Party included a gay rights plank in its national platform" (D'Emilio, 1983, p.37). The affects of Bowers v. Hardwick are still felt since ... as of 2000, 10 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 165 cities and counties in the United States have adopted civil rights laws protecting lesbians and gay men against discrimination in such areas as employment, housing, and public accommodations" (Schaefer, 2001, p 365). What was apparent for gay men and lesbians was that there was not so much the need for privacy as much as there was a need for secrecy. The acknowledgment of one's true identity and behavior could become the cause for censure and loss of rights. What the decisions represented to gay men and lesbians was that clearly they were not afforded equal treatment under the law. This was the dilemma that confronted many: whether to continue to lead a lifestyle that did not acknowledge their sexual orientation or malce the decision to 39

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"come out" when this personal decision was not just a public statement, but also a political one. Each individual had to weigh the security afforded by not making a public declaration and avoiding the consequences of such an announcement against the injustice being meted out against members of the GLBT community. Knowing that the consequences of"coming out" could include harassment, employment difficulties, negative reactions by family and mends, and possible loss of church membership had to be considered in the light of continued and long-standing harassment by authorities, unjust court decisions, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the need for integrity found in being true to one's self Many responded to this challenge, many others decided to maintain the status quo. The New Menace Into the midst of this heated political/social arena would come a new dimension: the first known case of AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) in the United States was recorded in 1981.3 Since the first reported case in the United States, over 1,500,000 Americans have been diagnosed as infected by HIV. For a variety of reasons, these numbers represent only the identified cases; the actual number of infected cases is unknown (Utah AIDS Foundation, J995). The disease known as AIDS is the result of the destruction of immune cells by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Vrrus) which prevents the body from fighting infection and certain types of cancer (citation) 40

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. This devastating virus attacked and spread quickly through the gay and bisexual community. It was apparent from the onset of the illness that the mainstream media and government ignored it. The ineffectual response to Acquired lmmunoDeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) by government authorities sent a strong message that homosexuals were not politically important. When AIDS first appeared in the United ;. States, the majority of those infected were known to be members of the gay community. This connection lead to the disease first being identified as "GRID" Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (Rimrnerman, 2000) This name was widely used in the national media to report on the disease as the epidemic grew and made most nongay individuals feel safe from the virus; Before October 7, 1985, the day that Rock Hudson died, little attention had been paid to the deadly ailment in mainstream heterosexual comniunities. As the first well known person to die of AIDS, his death brought worldwide attention. It became a topic of discussion and entered mainstream consciousness. The tragedy was that by the time society took notice of the disease, it had already extracted a frightful toll. However, by that date "some 12,000 Americans were already dead or dying of AIDS and hundreds of thousands more were infected with the virus that caused the disease" (Shilts, 1987, p. xxi). The first chronicler of the devastation brought by the AIDS onslaught was Randy Shilts in his classic work And the Band Pkiyed On (1987). His testament to the inattention of much of the American public and the media was illustrated by the 41

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reluctance of mainstream newspapers to cover the epidemic. As early as 1981 a reporter from the Wall Street Journal wrote an article discussing an illness affecting homosexuals However, the editors did not feel the article merited publication and refused to publish the piece. Only later when the virus attacked heterosexual drug users was the reporter able to get the article published (Shilts, 1987, p.126). This general public apathy toward this disease and the individuals it affected created a totally different reaction in the gay and lesbian community. It brought many gay men and lesbians out of the closet, as the life-:and-death nature of the epidemic overcame the fear of coming out and led to renewed cooperation among lesbians and gay men. This critical time provided a more visible platform for lesbians and gays of color to mobilize resources and build organizations of their own to fight AIDS (Cruikshank, 1992, p.75). One of the most outspoken AIDS activists and voices of rage against the inertia of the society in responding to the health care crisis was Larry Kramer. A tireless crusader, he wrote and spoke constantly about the American AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. Many consider his article, "1112 and Counting" (1983), to be one of the most significant and frightening statements made regarding the AIDS epidemic. It began, "If this article doesn't scare the shit out of you, we're in real trouble. If this article doesn't rouse you to anger, fury, rage, and action, gay men may have no future on this earth. Our continued existence depends on just how angry you can get . Unless we fight for our lives, we shall die. In all the history of homosexuality we have 42

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never before been so close to death and extinction. Many of us are dying or already dead" (Kramer, 1994, p. 33). Later in the article, Kramer detailed the magnitude of the health care crisis when he stated, "and for the first time in this epidemic, leading doctors and researchers are finally admitting they don't know what's going on. I find this terrifYing too-as terrifying as the alarming rise in numbers. For the first time, doctors are saying out loud and up front, 'I don't know"' (Kramer, 1994, p.34). Escalating Activism The indifference of the government and the media led to a renewed activism among gay men and lesbians and the creation of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), a highly confrontational and vociferous organization dedicated to alerting the country to the health care crisis presented by AIDS. ACT UP brought a new dimension to methods employed in seeking the movement's objectives. "ACT UP's organizational philosophy, strategies, and tactics differed in important ways from other SMOs (social movement organizations) that emerged in response to the AIDS epidemic ... (Freeman, 1999, p.135). ACT UP used a confrontational style that was "in your face." They displayed safe sex banners at athletic contests, wrapped buildings in red tape to signify the reluctance of government to become involved with IDV/ AIDS, and painted outlines of 43

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human figures on the streets in the Castro District to remind people of the number who had lost their lives to the virus (Cruikshank, 1992). For many, the methods used by ACT UP were considered unconventional. There was a determined effort to escape the formality and traditional concepts in its crusade to snap the public indifference to this deadly disease and mobilize governmental and medical efforts to seek a cure for what had incorrectly been perceived as a "gay disease" (Freeman, 1999). The term "radical" could be applied to ACT UP in almost any criteria used to describe the organization. A non-bureaucratic structure was the basis of the organization. There were no designated leadership positions, and no written constitution. In its place was a "working document that described the purposes of the different committees, election procedures, funding, and methods for organizing protests and direct action" (Freeman, 1999, p.140). Members of any such social movement know that it is necessary to mobilize resources and use them to their benefits in order to gain ... political influence, access to the media, and workers" (Schaefer, 2001, p.567). The growth of ACT UP helped a fledgling social movement in the GLB T community find these resources. The ultimate objective of ACT UP was to achieve treatment for all people suffering from lllV infection. As the impact oflllV/AIDS on the GLBT community increased, numerous efforts which had previously been focused on achieving gay civil rights were now directed toward the ever increasing death toll of lovers and friends. 44

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The onset of the disease had unexpected political consequences due to the large number of heretofore closeted individuals "coming out." "Movie stars, fashion designers, government officials, professors, priests ... The AIDS virus 'doesn't care whether you wear drag or leather or a three piece suit. It doesn't care whether you live in a gay ghetto or with your wife and family in the suburbs. In short, gay men cannot hide anymore than could the Jews ofEurope"' (Cruikshank, 1992, p.183). Two dominant events have had an incalculable affect on GLBT civil rights efforts : one was the Stonewall Riot and the other was the emergenceoflllV/AIDS. The Stonewall Riot in 1969 provided the opportunity for gay men to realize not only that harassment could and would be reacted to, but that by working together, much more could be accomplished even as members of the community were learning to take pride in their own identities. This realization would become a bonding and energizing agent that would lead to many beneficial consequences: new leaders, organizations, publications, support, and increased public awareness Boldness became an essential ingredient in these new efforts to achieve equal treatment, whether it was tactics and techniques of protest, gay/lesbian literature, the arts, or an openness of lifestyle. These efforts would ebb and flow over the next decade as progress alternated with regression. A second event occurred in 1981the emergence oflllV/AIDS created a crisis that would once again awaken the GLBT community. AIDS became a force that brought divergent segments of society into political activity. As Rom cites in "Gays 45

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and AIDS: Democratizing Disease?" (Rimmerman, 2000, p.218) the disease became a mobilizing force for these groups: the individuals infected, their family members, friends, and loved ones, and those involved in controversial societal issues. What was significant about AIDS that it was not only a medical problem, but involved issues of morality, civil rights, and sexuality. The sudden explosion of AIDS into the gay community created new perspectives and priorities Approaching mortality, lack of treatment, lack of known causes, lack of public attention, lack of funding, lack of research, lack of public support these were the ingredients that caused many in the gay community to reappraise their situations and conclude that something had to be done. The actions that resulted ran the gamut of responses. For some, it was personal: they began to reconsider their secret lifestyles, acknowledge their sexual orientation and publicly declare their pride in who they were. This new plague was not the end, but rather a new beginning for them in their efforts to seek social justice and equal treatment. It also forced society to respond to a health issue that had unknown consequences. The following chapter begins with the first steps in this process, the process of"coming out of the closet." 46

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CHAPTER THREE "COMJNG OUT" -IN THEIR OWN WORDS Taking A Stand This chapter describes the influences that inhibit the disclosure of an individual's sexual orientation and personalizes the responses of gay men and lesbians to their sexual orientation. Society's attitudes toward homosexuality can be a very heavy door for some to open, but they were no longer content with the treatment and misunderstanding of their orientation and objectives. This chapter provides an opportunity for individuals in Salt Lake City and Denver to describe the circumstances surrounding this experience. The latter half of the twentieth century was an important period for making political statements. Individuals and groups were determined to no longer tolerate the status quo, but instead sought justice for their communities. Whether the cause was women's rights, equal and fair treatment for African Americans, recognition of the contributions ofNative Americans, or ending the fighting in Vietnam, people were willing to take stands that were unsettling for many in the larger society. The practices of intolerance and discrimination would no longer be accepted; people would stand in opposition, make their voices heard. It was an era of commitment and militancy, a time for honesty and openness. No longer would people be silent; it was time to speak out. 47

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For many, being gay or lesbian meant living a double life since it was often easier to appear straight than to come out and face discrimination and stigmatization based upon one's sexual orientation. Declaring one's sexual identity can be difficult when doing so can result in drastic changes in one's life. It is the culmination not only of the awareness of one's sexual orientation, but also the acceptance of that lifestyle. In essence, this seemingly simple act of identification becomes both a personal and political statement. Margaret Cruikshank's The Gay and Lesbian Liberation Movements (1992) describes the "coming out" as a succession of stages that individuals experience, beginning with the physical attraction to individuals of the same sex, together with the realization that one is a homosexual. This stage is followed by one in which the person describes his/her feelings to others. This then leads to searching out others with similar inclinations. The result of these contacts is that individuals are then able to develop a more positive attitude about their sexual orientation. The ultimate objective is to achieve the integration and recognition of one's orientation with the total concept of self. There is no exact time frame to this process. It can occur over a short period or take years to complete. It may well be accomplished only in fragments: telling parents and family can be a first step, then telling friends and coworkers, and subsequently becoming a member of a gay or lesbian organization, and possibly a civil rights advocate. 48

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In the interviews I completed, it appears that what makes this process so unsettling is the attitude and reactions of those closest to them. For many gay men and lesbians, the "coming out" process would be the extent of their identification with the GLBT community For this decision meant dealing < with a complex set of societal issues surrounding this declaration. Basic to this disclosure were two elements : fear and uncertainty. The experience of"coming out" frequently exacted a psychological, emotional, and religious toll with long-term consequences with the result that many continued to cloak their sexual orientation rather than disclose themselves and suffer contempt and discrimination. Some have attempted to lead "straight" lifestyles even to the extent of marrying and becoming parents in an attempt to avoid hostile reactions. The reaction of family members was a consideration that troubled many gay men and lesbians in their transition from the secret to a public lifestyle. Uncertainty as to the effect the announcement would have on relationships, they wondered whether the bonds of the family would be strong enough to accept this new lifestyle or if the announcement would create a gulf too wide to bridge . How well the family accepted the disclosure was a critical element not only in the timing of the initial disclosure, but also in the ongoing relationship. A second crucial factor for many was religion. Many religious traditions contain a strong condemnation of homosexuality and, for those in the GLBT community who practiced their faith, this conflict became a source of stress and 49

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despair. Many religions all but exclude acknowledged homosexuals from communion in their rites. At a time when religious support was most needed, organized religion frequently turned its back upon them. This situation was extremely significant in Utah where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints plays a very important role in all aspects of life. Voices 4 The following interviews indicate that there were recurring factors that influence an individual's decision to "come out" and publicly acknowledge a sexual orientation deviant from the heterosexual standard. These included the reaction of family and friends, the fear of physical violence often perpetrated upon gay men and lesbians, the violation oflong held religious beliefs, anxiety over potential job loss, and the need to become involved in activism for GLBT civil rights. Family and Friends For many people, the reaction of their family represented the foremost consideration in openly acknowledging their sexual identity and was a factor affecting anxiety and uncertainty. This was especially true if their family was unaware of the No participant in this study will be identified by his or her actual name. As such, names findividuals' organizations have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the nformants. 50

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person's orientation prior to the declaration. Several of those interviewed share their experiences regarding this important theme. "Sterling," the Director of an AIDS Service Organization in Salt Lake City, speaks with a personal view not only regarding his own experiences but also with the broader perspective of the GLBT community: I think one of the difficulties that a lot of people have is coming out to their families here. It's tough because there is a lot of history of families rejecting their gay children. I remember when I was dealing with that issue, my expectation was that my parents would reject me, so I had a really hard time talking to them. It was internalized homophobia. How could they possibly continue to love me, I'm gay. So I must be rejected. So that's a real tough process for a lot of people to go through and sometimes the only way for them to go through that process is to leave. They can't stay and face all those issues of rejection. (March 21, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah) "Coming out" often means moving to another city or neighborhood. The consequences of such an announcement, especially in small communities, rural areas, or locales dominated by a particular religion, are formidable obstacles. Many gay men and lesbians living a closeted lifestyle do not know many of their peers nor do they have a place to meet in an accepting environment. These considerations often complicate their identity process. The need to be accepted is an especially strong emotion for many. This feeling is graphically developed in the response of"Sterling" who wanted to be acknowledged for his individual qualities as a person and not as the stereotype that many hold toward gay men and lesbians. The respondents I interviewed resonated that they are not one dimensional beings and resent being categorized by one aspect of 51

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their nature. As individuals or as a group, they simply desire to have the rights afforded other minorities. Love was the emotion that precipitated the coming out of"Cary." The exclusion and frustration he felt compelled him to take a stand against the contradictions of his religious beliefs and the reality of human relationships. I came out because I personally as a gay man want the same rights that my brothers and sisters enjoy, namely marry the love of my life and raise a family with them. I want to marry the man that I love and I don't have that right now. I'm in this state where they've worked really hard to make sure I cannot have children by adoption or any other way and I think it's completely wrong. There is sadness that people who say they love me don't want me to have the same happiness they enjoy with their spouse and children. It makes me sad that the religion that I believe in and that I've worked all my life to support as a missionary and through lots of callings in the church, they fight actively to keep me from living according to my conscience and try to be truly loving. My family and my religion have encouraged me to love falsely. To pretend to love a woman and to have a family with a woman. That's morally wrong, so it makes me really sad that my family and church won't help me live true to my heart, true to my convictions. (March 20, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah) For those individuals committed to their religion, this announcement frequently became a highly stressful experience. What confronted many who hold strong religious beliefs was the dichotomy between the tenets of one's faith versus the importance of familial relationship. The decision between adhering solely to one's religious teaching or holding together the bonds of family relationships places pressures upon both the parents and the adult child. The question then becomes whether to be true to one's religion or supportive to one's children and siblings. 52

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What is more poignant is that when one most needs the support of both family and religion the choice frequently becomes that of one or the other. The decision to "come out" separates many from their religious traditions. To live a gay or lesbian lifestyle means no longer being allowed to be a communicant. This commitment also places the family in the difficult position of maintaining a relationship with their offspring that is in opposition to church teaching. This dilemma can be an inhibiting factor in their declaration. Not all acknowledgments were made early in one's life. "Randy'' was well into his seventies when the time was right for him. He married early in his life, divorced, and waited several years before malcing his decision: The thing that caused me to wait so long is the essence of my problem now. I have a long time roommate, associate, he helped me see the light .. There's something like that, some kind of moral inhibitions that were very strong earlier in my life that held me back. I had the chance to get involved with other guys, they'd make overtures to me, but I turned them down. But then when you get lonely enough, you do it anyhow. So it was in and out of my life. So, the other question was what brought it out? I don't think anything did. I just got more frank about it. (June 20, 200 I, Denver, Colorado) In contrast to the late announcement by "Randy," "Tom" made the decision in his twenties in a more dramatic fashion: I was in my late 20s when I finally made that decision with my family and it was extremely difficult. I think I had always feared rejection which was very common with everyone. And to some degree more broadly in your coming out, I experienced some amount of that fear and probably made situational decisions as to whether I wanted or needed to disclose that information. Certainly with my parents, in my mid twenties, I did the whole drug thing, and discovered through the process of stopping that.a lot of what that was about 53

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for me was trying to not deal with my feelings around my coming out process with my parents. And so I actually did that coming out process with them during a treatment program and had therapists in the room with us. So, and it was, just saying it outright to them lifted a huge weight off me. With regards to my parents' reactions, I'd say it was better than I expected. I didn't have real high expectations. My mother did just exactly what I thought she would do. She went to the place of what about AIDS, more in her own way, concern for my well being. My father on the other hand, that's where the surprise came from. I also had a very close friend in the room at the time who had helped me get into treatment. He and I talked later and he even observed my mother and father were sitting on a sofa to my left. Whereas my mother went into this emotional state. My father physically moved closer to me upon my disclosure. It's always stuck out I my mind ever since. From that standpoint there was a non verbal show of support to me that I had not expected. (June 14, 2001, Denver, Colorado) For someone deciding when to come out, one of the most stressful and unknown situations is trying to anticipate the response and support they will receive. The anxiety and trepidation makes the circumstances and results frequently highly unclear. Not only are the responses often unexpected, but can also be pleasingly positive. Timing of the announcement can be a vital factor in this response. The decision for "Bud," a psychiatrist, reflected the emotional and psychological and professional context in which his decision was made: Fear, terror. I always found it difficult to be disliked. It hurts me when someone doesn't like me. I knew that coming out that 90% of the public would revile me. And it was terrifYing. I didn't know ifi could survive like that. I didn't want my ex-wife to think that was the reason for the divorce; it wasn't but I had no control over what she was going to think. I worried about what my three sons would think and whether they would attack me. Somehow I guess I decided to take that chance and felt compelled. (June 12, 2001, Denver, Colorado) 54

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What is not uncommon is that many gay men and lesbians decide to marry even though they are aware of their sexual orientation. Numerous pressures and circumstances prevail in leading them to make this decision, including family, professional, and religious influences. The subsequent birth of children frequently complicates and extends the relationship. "Bud's" dilemma is an example of the recriminations of one's actions and the responses and attitudes of the spouse and children are very important considerations not only in deciding to stay in a relationship but also to end it. These were the obvious concerns he confronted in making his decision. While "Bud" was deeply concerned about the response to his sexual orientation by his wife and children, "Donald" did not feel the same pressure or anxiety. "Donald's" attitudes toward his sexual orientation were extremely low key as was his involvement in the GLBT community or any efforts in civil rights advocacy. "Donald" does not cite a particular event or person that prompted his acknowledgment of his sexual orientation. He states: I don't remember any event that happened. I was married. I went to college after school. I don't remember "coming out." That's a word we didn't know then. In fact, gay wasn't evert a term. I remember when it was just a code word. I got married. Actually before I was married I met my wife in coilege and we were both involved in drama in which there were a lot of gay men, some women too. We knew some of the same people and so my being gay was not a great surprise to my wife but I don't remember that we talked about it much. 55

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So when you ask about coming out, it was such a gradual process that there was no, I never discussed it with parents, but I think I assumed that they knew about it and didn't want to talk about it. (May 24, 2001, Denver, Colorado) "Pete," an articulate and involved professional reveals the events that surrounded his announcement: The first time that I fully acknowledged my sexual orientation was in the summer of 1974, I was 23. I think that the complexity of the question; it's a very complex question. There are many issues I would acknowledge as barriers. Probably the most important as I think about it would be the recognition that I would have to be redefining my entire life and my whole expectations for life around that identity. I think that something that kept me from coming out earlier was the notion that I had just not found the right woman. So I had the expectations of marriage and family and a heterosexual life. At some point I realized that wasn't going to happen so the biggest barrier was understa,nding. Another barrier was finding people like me who were also gay. The reality was that gay people weren't very visible. (June 7, 2001, Denver, Colorado) "Coming out" can be a defining moment as evidenced by "Pete's" comments about the realization that certain societal expectations of finding the right woman and getting married would not be part of his life experience. With this decision would come the necessity to establish associations with gay men and enter a new social environment. Violence Sexual orientation continues to be a basis for discrimination and victimization for the GLBT community. Not only are they excluded from the rights and opportunities of the heterosexual majority, but their persecution extends from verbal attacks to physical assault often resulting in injury and even death. The willingness to 56

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attack gay men and lesbians sadly has a long and violent history. This hostility was tragically exemplified in the Rocky Mountain region with the unprovoked murder of Matthew Shepard. Whether physical attacks upon members of the GLBT population are motivated by a first person experience or simply in response to the experiences of others, it is commented upon by several interviewees. "Dave" spoke with emotion surrounding the events that led to his decision to publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation. I think a lot of it, and maybe I'm not just speaking for myself, but I think there's a lot of fear involved. Basically through the years I bad to move because of queer bashing even though I owned a house. I couldn't even walk up on my porch; my companion was threatened, so I had to sell that home. Yet, even though we have the right to live there, that packed a lot of things. It built up some anger and that's why I thought speaking out and being openly public couldn't hurt worse than a smack in the face, having a rock thrown through your window. You know even my last name starts with an and it was on my front door, I had to take that off, that stands for "fag" you know, and I had to take that off. It started in fear, anger, not really a rebellion, but I had to stand up for rights. I wasn't hurting anybody and the whole thing is, when I see people walk through the front door here (at an AIDS service organization) and see people suffering from things like that, there's a whole lot of different things that I've witnessed and it's like when I go out and teach, there's a positive side that you don't have to put up with this crap. (March 20, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah) It appears that those who attack gay men and lesbians are somehow concerned that their lifestyle will negatively impact the heterosexual majority. They have the misguided beliefthat these attacks will cause GLBTs to retreat from their civil rights objectives. Acts of violence for some have become the only means of combating something they do not understand. 57

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Members of the GLBT community have become the new scapegoats for many segments of society. While it is not "politically correct" to assail individuals based on their ethnicity, sexual orientation remains a convenient label to target. Antihomosexual sentiment is given a degree oflegitimacy by the opposition of several religious groups and the position of the military. Religion Few institutions in society are more personal and influential than religion. The impact of religious teaching can reach every corner of a person's life. Many religious traditions and especially those of a fundamentalist "base," such as Southern Baptists and Assemblies of God, are extremely hostile to the GLBT lifestyle. They believe that gay men and lesbians violate the "Biblical model of the family." "Every aspect of moral family life marriage, sexuality, parenting, gerider roles -is undermined by the gay rights agenda" (Gerzon, 1997, p.20). This view is also held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which represents the majority of Utah residents and is an essential force in dictating the lifestyle of the state's population. The conflict between the dictates of the church and the sexual orientation ofGLBT Mormon faithful creates a divide that can only be bridged by sexual abstinence. This dichotomy between sexual inclinations and adherence to church teaching has created countless spiritual, emotional, and physical dilemmas. Though the religious influence in Utah is unique, the specter of religious 58

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oppression is a daunting consideration for many in the GLBT community. This influence is evidenced by the following interviews: "Sterling" again speaks with a broad perspective of the GLBT community: When you come out in Utah you have to come way out. You can't come out a little bit; the expectation is that you disengage from your religion; in fact, there's a big movement by a couple of people to get people who have grown up Mormon to be excommunicated, to deliberately get themselves excommunicated. There doesn't seem to be any understanding of what a difficult process that is for someone who's been strongly religious and happens to be gay. It's already difficult to reconcile that and a lot of people have a tough time with that and there's no room to acknowledge it. (March 21, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah) "Sterling" clearly stated the conflict that exists for someone who is gay and also has a strong commitment to his religion. The decision to "come out" is not taken lightly and the impact is even more devastating knowing that such an announcement can lead to excommunication from one's church. This is especially significant when the majority culture was strongly influenced by the church to which he had been a lifelong member. "Coming out" for some is more than a decision to be identified by their sexual orientation. Discrimination in employment is still a fact that exists for gay men and lesbians in professions as diverse as education and the military. There are policies and penalties for acknowledging homosexual orientation whether overt acts are committed or not. This situation has prompted individuals to take stands and become more 59

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militant in securing equal treatment with the heterosexual majority. The following interviews exemplify this theme: "Charles" was reluctantly thrust into the public spotlight due to unplanned events that prompted him to reveal his sexual orientation. He relates the experience: I was a teacher and so I was teaching high school during the time when a young girl at the high school came out and that was so interesting because it coincided with a current events emphasis in my classroom so when I asked my stUdents what they wanted to talk about, they said they wanted to talk about that. With enormous nervousness, I said OK. What I realized was that they were at a different place than my generation was. Some were "anti" but most just didn't care which was different than my generation. That was a wake up call that there had been that shift. From that experience I became the first openly gay public school teacher in the state of Utah. In a public way. I had a public press conference and that's not to say there weren't others, but the media gave that label to me. And I've accepted it, and that's now been 6-7 years ago. (March 20, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah) "Betty," now in her seventies, is outspoken and decisive in her opinions as she speaks of her thoughts regarding her decision to come out: I get impatient but I understand, older people are still very closeted. I am an exception and I think that's too bad but many of them prefer to remain in the closet because of their professions. It is very tightly woven little groups. I think the men have done a far better job of making their voice heard than women, particularly older women. The younger women, the kids are coming out earlier and earlier which I think philosophically is marvelous but my heart goes out to them because so many of them face such trauma in their school and social endeavors. (May 21, 2001, Denver, Colorado) The inconsistency oflegal decisions with regard to first.amendment issues is graphically demonstrated in decisions involving teachers. The educational profession allowed for special restrictions to be placed upon teachers giving wide discretion to school boards to censuring them. The extent to which these guidelines extended was 60

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exemplified in Roland v. Mad River Local School District, 461 U.S.,J38 (1983). This decision dealt with the sexual orientation of teachers. The court held that the school board could transfer a counselor to a non-student-contact position for merely revealing her bi-sexual orientation to a colleague. Not only were first amendment rights trampled for teachers, but their positions required a higher standard of conduct. Incorporated in the concept of their position was the aspect of role model. In Gaylord v. Tacoma School District. 88 Washington 2d 286, p.559 p.2d1340, (1977) the court held that role identification was so important that a teacher could be discharged for immorality simply because it was known he was a homosexual. Employment remains problematic for gay men and lesbians especially in the sector of public employment. Heightened restrictions confront them in "military employment, employment in jobs that require a security clearance, and employment in civil service" (Harvard Law Review, 1989, p.44). Many are now familiar with the military's policy of"don't ask, don't tell." The rationale is the cliche "security risks" has become a mantra for discharging or removing competent individuals from their positions. The court held that inherent in the term homosexual is that gratification would result from sexual relations with someone of the same sex. The court further concluded that an individual admitting his sexual orientation was equal to stating he had committed the acts (Harvard Law Review, 1989, p.91) 61

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What is tragic about the regulations and policies related to sexual orientation and teaching is that guilt is not an act, but rather a state of being. Simply the fact that a person is gay or lesbian is enough to cause discharge. For educators, sexual orientation is held at a different standard than ethnicity, religion, disability, or age. Activism There came a time when intolerance against those in the GLBT community would no longer be accepted Activism and militancy that had accomplished significant advances for other minorities would be a tool this community would use in its effort to achieve gay and lesbian civil rights. The methods of advocacy are as diverse as the people and objectives of those seeking relief from the conditions that oppress them. For some, the circumstances surrounding their activism were planned, while for others the moment was not of their own choosing but was thrust upon them unexpectedly by an outside force. The reluctance of society to focus on the devastation of the GLBT community by the onslaught ofHIV I AIDS was a powerful cause for mobilization. Whether young or old, rich or poor, college graduate or school dropout, those who entered the liberation movement concluded that the only way to make a difference and progress would be by speaking and acting out. "Charles" further relates his experiences upon coming out: After I came out, I felt like I had two lives after that point. I not only had to be a stellar teacher but I had to be a stellar gay teacher. I felt like I now even 62

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had to be better than I had before, that there would be more scrutiny on me. I also found myself working two jobs, I now was in a spotlight position. I was in a role of activist that I never wanted to be in. I did what I did but I didn't really consider myself an activist. After that, Ellen Degeneres came out and I remember she was interviewed by Barbara Walters and she said she didn't want to be an activist. And I laughed and said, You don't have a choice. You will be used by both sides in ways that will delight and anger you. By the very proxy of where you put yourself, you will be an activist. And I didn't realize that at the time. I thought I would have the control over it and I didn't. One thing I learned about the media is the media makes you do what they want, well other people as well; you know for those who thought I was a hero, I was a hero. To those who thought I was a villain, I was a villain and I had no control over that. I couldn't go out and change people's attitudes. Being an activist didn't come with its own hand book. (March 20, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah) When a person realizes he/she is homosexual, there are several factors to consider before deciding to openly declare that sexual orientation. These factors include the necessity for honesty both to oneself and others. In the interviews I conducted I discovered that people decided to "come out" when the desire to improve the lives of those in their own community outweighed the concern about negative response from others. This was typified by numerous interviewees who decided to enter the health care field to assist those living with IDV/AIDS. There are many motives involved in an individual declaring his sexual orientationpride in one's identity, unwillingness to continue leading a life of dishonesty, no longer content to be treated as a second-class citizen. Conclusion The dilemma confronting those deliberating the decision to "come out" was 63

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whether "coming out" would be the opening of one door or the closing of many others. The unknown consequences of this act were potent aspects of their thinking. As D'Emilio (1998) suggests, "Whatever the path by which gay men and women arrived at a self definition based on their sexuality, the labeling one's sexual desires marked but the first step in a lifelong journey of discovery that offered challenges, perils, and rewards" (D'Emilio, 1983, p.21). This was amply displayed in the experiences of the indiViduals in this chapter. The time frame for coming out is indefinite; examples are presented that illustrate the opportune moment was early in an individual's life for some and in the very mature years for others. What is emerging from this experience is a progression of societal and medical findings that have awakened an increased understanding of GLBTs. The progress attained by the African American civil rights movement gave new impetus to the gay and lesbian community. This, combined with the inertia of the government in responding to the AIDS crisis, motivated countless individuals to say "Enough!" "Coming out" today is easier than it was in previous decades. The number of organizations created to assist and support GLBTs are numerous and nationwide. The Internet provides a vast array of information and support to those making such a decision. An abundance of media resources dispenses information regarding health, political action, legal issues, and educational services. 64

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Two issues were fundamental to the interviewees and they continue to be foremost in their activism: justice and health. In the following chapter, I will examine even further how these are related in the context of the GLBT community by looking specifically at the effect ofHIV/AIDS on gayflesbian activism. 65

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CHAPTER FOUR GLBT REACTION TO HIV/AIDS Mobilization The emergence of AIDS has produced a mixed blessing for the GLBT community. In the opinion of Jeffrey Escoffer, an historian, ''Not only has the AIDS epidemic mobilized more gay men than any other issue of the gay movement, but it has led to a greatly increased appreciation of gay rights" (Kramer, 1994, p.xx). The bankrupt mentality toward the afiliction wrought by AIDS is contained in the -comments of a British microbiology professor who expresses the views on both sides of the Atlantic. He states "that treatment research raises a 'moral dilemma' since it would 'run the risk' of prolonging the lives of people who would remain infectious in the community'' (Kramer, 1994, p.xxii). Though these sentiments were spoken years ago, they still are held by many today. The IDV/AIDS virus did more than effect the physical well being of its victims. The devastating effects not only caused dramatic health changes, but also accelerated the necessity for the GLBT commuruty to become more politically active. It was apparent that the community must become more involved in shaping its collective destinies; it would not simply be accomplished by the activism of supporters in the heterosexual society. This section gives voice to those who felt the impact of IDV/AIDS and in some way acted upon it. 66

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Activism by the gay community did riot commence with the scourge of the virus as I documented in Chapter 2 of this thesis. A decade had passed since the Stonewall Bar riots created a new advocacy movement. However, the devastation to the gay community coupled with the indifference of the government and lack of concern by the general public forced many to adopt new techniques. This process began with the efforts to become more knowledgeable about the disease, and to use this information to care for those suffering from it (Cruikshank, 1994). Much of the GLBT activism in the 1980s and 90s was compelled by the basic instinct for survival More than other segments of society, gay men were confronted daily with the horrendous impact of the disease; therefore, they would have to take the lead. This participation would create a linking of those suffering from the disease and those concerned with the plight of the affected (Cruikshank, 1994). The irony of this tragic situation was that though other diseases and epidemics were viewed as illnesses that required eradication, AIDS for many held a different distinction. It encompassed other attributes related to morality, sexuality, and civil rights. An extremely chilling by-product of the AIDS epidemic was that it provided homophobic individuals with an issue inwhich they could express their hostility. They associated homosexuality with the virus which was the rationale to express their anti gayflesbian sentiments. The extent to which the devastation of the disease was ignored at the governmental level was evidenced by the reaction of President Ronald Reagan, who 67

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did not comment on the crisis "until Thanksgiving 1987, with a known total of25,644 dead from AIDS in the United States" (Kramer, 1994, p.xvi). The context in which he made the statement was to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to examine to what degree the virus had affected society at large. The perception that the government was becoming involved only because the virus was spreading beyond homosexuals to the heterosexual population created deep concerns in the GLBT community. This lack of attention to such a serious health issue motivated GLBT activists. It was no coincidence that supporters of"ACT UP" (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) embraced Malcolm X's slogan of"By any means necessary" (Rimmerman, 2000, p.220). In the following section are comments regarding how the introduction ofHIV/AIDS affected the identity of those in the GLBT community as well as their activism. The impact ofHIV has motivated individuals in many way to become involved. "Tom" in Denver relates his thoughts: So many people I've talked to over the years both those living with HIV and those affected by HIV often have expressed positive sides to this disease and this epidemic. Certainly I had both positive and negative memories and experience from HIV -positive having been for me personally, as someone affected by HIV in my life, the positive has been that the awareness overall that's happened throughout society and in dealing with a disease of this impact, worldwide, but my experience is in the US, just what I've seen happen. (June 14, 2001, Denver, Colorado) The onset of the disease for "Tom" instilled a dedication and sensitivity that had not existed prior to his being infected. It became such a career altering experience that he dedicated himself to working in the health care profession serving those living 68

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with lllV/AIDS. This commitment to serving the infected had led him to consider his condition a blessing. The implications oflllV/AIDS are viewed from many different positions: "Bud's" perspective is: I have an interesting take on that. I have said for 15 year and more that IllY I AIDS is the best thing that ever happened to the gay conimunity. Let me explain my thinking to you. I don't mean that it's a good thing to have AIDS at all but because of this illness we are getting publicity. It may not be the kind of publicity one wants, maybe it's all negative publicity but it's forcing the majority to acknowledge the existence of a substantial minority and I think that's a step up. (June 12, 2001, Denver, Colorado) "Bud's" comments were repeated by more than one interviewee. The extent of the disease, and the implications throughout society, forced both the authorities and the public to become more knowledgeable about the virus, and generated discussion about homosexuality and how homosexuals were treated. The impact of the virus accelerated "Betty's" involvement in the GLBT civil rights movement. Observing first hand the consequences of the disease continues to motivate her activism. I was rather isolated from the GLBT community for a long time and I think I started becoming active around 197 5 a little bit and then with the onslaught of AIDS I became even more active in approximately 1988 and then also from there in conjunction with AIDS became quite active in the human rights area. (May 21, 2001, Denver, Colorado) Both "Tom" and "Bud" agree that the implications oflllV/AIDS in the GLBT community forced many to lose their complacency and begin to "act" rather "react" to the impact of the disease. 69

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"Byron," is a Denver attorney and long time advocate whose activism predated the onset of the disease. He describes his initial involvement: I think I got interested in trying to do something about the problems of gay people/gay movement after I became conscious myself that I was predominantly gay. And after I got my law degree I was instrumental in getting the ACLU of Colorado organized in 1952. Subsequently, he describes the events as he perceived them later: Initially AIDS appeared as a real set back. There arose a feeling in the general community of revulsion against gay people. A lot of people who didn't know about gay and lesbian people for the first time began to understand or at least learn about gays and gay problems. I think with the initial set back of the advent of the IllV infection, in a way it has been an advantage because it brought to the front of the public mind the presence of gay people and resulted in the education of the population that it is not a voluntary status. It is something apparently that is inborn. (May 9, 2001, Denver, Colorado) ''Byron's" involvement in GLBT activism has a fifty year history. His lifelong dedication to this effort .was predicated on two issues: the need to educate individuals about what it is like to be gay or lesbian and the unjust treatment that society meted out to gay men and lesbians. From the time he realized he was gay, he was determined to provide legal services to groups working to achieve gay rights. "Peter'' is a leader in the gay community, knowledgeable and articulate who recognized the consequences of the disease: I was involved in the very earliest awareness that there was something out there called GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency, an earlier name given to HIV since it appeared only to infect gay men) or the gay cancer or whatever. I had left the community center in early 1980, became first editor for Out Front, the local gay newspaper. I think I wrote the first article about the gay cancer in mid 1981. (June 7, 2001, Denver, Colorado) 70

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He describes his emotions as he became more aware of the potential of the disease: I think that I was personally afraid for myself and it did not take me very long to change my behavior once I realized there was a sexual component to the transmission. In my conversations journalistically and as part of the (local AIDS service organization) with local health department officials, I felt like I had the best data. There was being personally afraid but there were people at that time who were considered alarmists and I think I was one and glad that I was. I felt like we've got to get the word out to everybody that this is life-threatening and I was involved in writing the first safe sex brochure that we had here. "Peter's" reaction was that of an activist. He was detennined to make a difference in the GLBT community by educating its members to the dangers of the disease. His disappointment with the media was obvious as he expressed his outrage that the media appears more concerned about the outbreak of a disease affecting animals than one that impacts gay men and lesbians. One was that I couldn't believe the disappointment in my own community for how slow it was to recognize the dangers and addressing them in the community. Somebody like me who cares so much for what we have worked so hard to accomplish to see it all torn apart ... plus individuals getting sick and dying. That ripped me up. Another thing was the complete non-response of government and the media. It was appalling to me and it still is. Think about all this crap about mad cow disease. I think if we'd had such media about IDV. (June 7, 2001, Denver, Colorado) A different perspective is presented by "Donald" when he considers the impact ofiDV/AIDS on his own life: It came on gradually, the consciousness or acknowledgment that we were in for trouble because even for the medical community it came on gradually. Early on I had a few friends who died of unknown causes, a strange kind of death. (May 21, 2001, Denver, Colorado) A striking difference between the gay/lesbian movement and other civil and 71

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human rights movements is that much of the discriminatory treatment by both individuals and institutions is based upon behavior that is conducted in private; that is, personal sexual behavior. The private sexual behavior of the heterosexual majority is not the cause for public censure; however, the same activity conducted by consenting gay men and lesbians makes them a target for various types of discrimination. This double standard is frequently the cause for a secret life for gay men and lesbians. This new social activism provided a climate for gays and lesbians to rethink and begin to take control of their destinies. No longer were they willing to accept the intolerance of society, inaction would become proaction. Responding to the treatment of society and the verbal ridicule, homosexuals selected a term that would renounce society's old concept of them, they would now take pride in being known as "gay'' and "queer" and no longer accept or tolerate the concept that they were sinful or sick Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation The role of African Americans and people of color has been minuscule in the GLBT civil rights movement though not by their choice. In his essay "Where Rhetoric meets Reality : The Role ofBlack Lesbians and Gays in 'Queer' Politics," Keith Boykin questions the inclusive makeup of the movement. He finds hypocrisy in this movement that laments the discrimination of gay men and lesbians by the heterosexual population, yet tolerates discrimination against communities of color within the GLBT 72

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population (Rimmerton, 2000, p. 79). This attitude meant that gay men and lesbians of color were faced with two serious obstacles to achieving a significant voice in the movement: finances and political contacts and influence. These barriers, combined with a greater reluctance than whites to come out of the closet and the limited opportunities to relocate to large metropolitan areas where coming out could more easily be accomplished, resulted in a limited leadership role. Yet, when people of color developed closer relationships with those in the Anglo community, the result was often a diminished leadership role among their peers, from their own ethnic community. For many in the Chicano community, the most important allegiance was to the ethnic community, which translated to "Chicano, Chicano, Chicano" indicating that no other aspect of one's identity was as important as this. This type of dual isolation was reflected in the comments of"Dan,'' a Chicano activist: As far as IllY I AIDS, I see a very significant tum of events that there's been more visibility ofLatino/Latina issues connected to IllY/AIDS That's been a victory. Back in the early 80s when AIDS was started, as long as it was called a gay disease, there wasn't much done by the goverrtment. As it became more of a gay white male disease, a few more crumbs were coming from the table. But the Latino and African American piece of this disease has caused more spotlight on that. It hasn't been very easy You can talk to others and see that there has been a war waged over this to get the Latino issues on the table. As far as gender, here in Denver just like throughout the country, there was a separatism. A lot of the Lesbian separatists wouldn't work with men. Here if you were a man they wouldn't work with you. That's a trend throughout the country. But with the advent of AIDS that changed. A lot of the Lesbian separatists started coming back and saying let's work together on this issue. 73

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That was a significant victory. Unfortunately, I don't think gay men have been as supportive of women's issues as the Lesbian feminists have been. (May 22, 2001, Denver, Colorado) It appears that the emergence of the virus in the Chicano community took precedence over other issues including that of gender. What "Dan's" comments reflect here is the tunnel vision that individuals have even when seeking objectives that can benefit the greater good of their ethnic community. He speaks of"different comfort zones" describing Chicano activists who will not work with heterosexuals and other Chicano activists who will not have anything to do with lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered supporters. The greatest hurt and disappointment is that oftentimes as activists we assume that because people can understand one issue, they can understand other issues of oppression. And that's not always the case. I remember working in the straight Chicano movement. There was no sensitivity to the gay issue. That's counterrevolutionary. The flip side, getting in the gay movement, there wasn't much sensitivity to racism or to sexism. So that has been kind of the biggest disappointment. (May 22, 200 I, Denver, Colorado) "Dan" reflected on the qualities that will enable the movement to progress: Historically coalitions are not built on love for one another; they're built on mutual respect. But there has to be some kind of trust involved. I think I'd like to see where we get to the point where we can form ongoing coalitions with some trust involved and we'll never love each other, that's a given, because of so much hurt in our society. May 22, 2001, Denver, Colorado) "Dan's" plea for respect was a valid one. The need to evaluate long term consequences is an important and necessary attribute in ensuring significant progress, and where haste and special interests plant the seeds for failure. "Dan" relates the divisions that make bridging the gap between white 74

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gay/lesbian coalitions with Chicano's difficult. The basis for this problem, he believes, is the insensitivity of white gays and lesbians to the specific issues facing Chicanos such as the importance of religious influence and the identification with his own ethnic group. This insensitivity created obstacles for him as he coordinated his activist efforts. What many gays and lesbians faced was a deeply ingrained hostility that was little different from the racial discrimination suffered by people of color in the United States. The basis for this opposition was woven into the tapestiy of numerous misconceptions and fears, supported by theology and societal disciplines. The lack of contact by the heterosexual population with the GLB T community added to countless misunderstandings about "them;' and their "threat" to society. Summruy lllV/AIDS could have significantly impacted any ethnic group, religious sect, age category, or gender; however, in America gay men were among its first victims. The GLBT community, long the subject of discrimination, now were hosts of an illness that no one wanted, and few outside their own community were concerned about the suffering they endured. The impact of the virus in the GLBT community and the slow response by the federal government forced them to develop a response to the health care crisis utilizing their own resources to provide disease prevention strategies and access to care and 75

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treatment. Prior to the time when the federal government began allocating funds to serve this population, the GLBT community had set up extensive networks such as the Gay Men's Health Crisis, community information hot lines, community-based programs, and other similar efforts to care for those infected with the disease. In the course of my investigations I found certain resounding themes with regard to the impact oflllV/AIDS on GLBT activism: One, lesbians had been more active in political matters as a result of their involvement in the women's liberation movement. With the onset oflllV among gay men, they became more politically active in that arena also. Two, the immensity of the epidemic's impact on gay men brought attention to this lifestyle as few other factors could have. With death confronting them, the shackles of inhibitions were removed and many gay men no longer cared what anyone thought about their lifestyle. With nothing further to lose, they went out and demanded their rights. Three, the virus forced the GLBT community to form organizations all across the country to provide health and social services to the infected. These programs included educational efforts on preventing the spread of the disease and pursuing scientific research on the illness. Four, political activism took the form of coalition building and the resulting groups then had the political clout to meet with governmental agencies and politicians 76

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at the city, county, state, and federal level to seek redress for the institutionalized discrimination toward the GLBT community. 77

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CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSIONS History records many similarities in the treatment of minorities by the majority segment of society. This is accomplished by a systematic demonization of the targeted groups; the process is assisted by religious teachings, medical decisions, and legal interpretations all seeking one objective: to prevent members of the minority groups from attaining the rights and status of the majority. The systematic dehumanizing continues until tragic and significant events occur and signal the point where unjust treatment will no longer be tolerated. For the African-American civil rights movement, that event was Rosa Parks' failure to give up her seat on the bus. Such circumstances galvanize individuals into action frequently without regard to personal consequences, for what becomes most important is the necessity to rectify the existing state of affairs. The rights that minorities seek are no different from that of society's majority: the opportunity to marry, to participate in the rites of their religious faith, to serve in the military, to work in their chosen profession based solely upon their ability to perform their duties, and to be eligible for survivorship and other domestic partnership benefits that are afforded to heterosexual citizens. This paper explores the historical context of interactions between members of the GLBT community and heterosexuals with the implications of societal teachings, 78

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positions, and attitudes that sought to deny gay men and lesbians the opportunity to achieve equal treatment regardless of their sexual orientation. The interviews personalize their efforts to attain the opportunities and rights that are taken for granted in the heterosexual segment of society. There were two defining events that energized the GLBT community. The first was the long-standing police harassment that culminated in the Stonewall Riot. Gay men not only began to retaliate, but more importantly, became part of a new perspective on what it meant to be gay. The reaction to the police action created a new identity and sense of cohesion in the GLBT community. Gay men would no longer be seen as "bad," rather, the perspective would be "gay is good." New organizations were established almost immediately, and the GLBT community realized that by mobilizing its efforts, much could be accomplished The second catalyst was the onsetofiDV/AIDS in the gay population. The decimation resulting from the disease combined with the reluctance of the government to become involved, the apathy of the larger heterosexual population toward those infected, and the tardiness of the medical community to respond to the crisis created a renewal of activism. The GLBT had no recourse except to aid the aftlicted. By establishing medical assistance networks, counseling agencies, educational programs, and political action groups they were able to raise the consciousness of the public and rally widespread support for the health crisis. In the 79

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process of aiding the victims of the virus, they were empowering themselves and their movement. At the beginning of this study, I anticipated that the illness and death caused by IDV/AIDS in the GLBT community combined with the governmental response to the health care crisis would be the most compelling factor in energizing the civil rights struggle. Though there was agreement among those I interviewed that mv I AIDS was a significant factor in their lives, only 24% indicated that the illness was the primary motivation for their involvement in GLBT civil rights issues though many became involved in providing health care or support services. The majority of the interviewees, 56%, stated that discrimination against gay men and lesbians was the most significant basis for their involvement in the GLBT civil rights struggle. They indicated that issues related to employment rights, access to marriage, unfair legal decisions, rights of survivorship, and actions by law enforcement agencies were important in their decisions to fight for civil rights. What makes the results of this study interesting is the maturity of the first individuals I interviewed, especially in Denver, Colorado. The initial participants were well into their seventies and, because of my sampling technique, they referred me to their peers who were in the same age category. Because of this, I had the opportunity and privilege to meet those who wete pioneers in the GLBT civil rights efforts. Many had worked for decades prior to both the Stonewall Riot and the beginning of the IDV/AIDS epidemic. The input of this unexpected age group undoubtedly skewed the 80

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results of this study and, because of the sampling technique used, I do not believe this study could be replicated. It would be difficult to randomly locate another sample which included such a large number of openly gay men over the age of 65. The third factor, which motivated 20% of the interviewees to become involved in the GLB T civil rights movement, were the teachings and influence of the Church of Jesus Christ ofLatter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. The church's theology toward homosexuality made it impossible for individuals to live their orientation and remain communicants of their faith. In most of my meetings with groups of gay men there was no minority representation. In addition, when asking for prospective interviewees from those already interviewed, only two non-Caucasians were mentioned. The hick of interviewees from ethnic minorities may have changed the outcome of the study. The educational level of all interviewees (93% had studied at the college or university level) and the household income of respondents (almost 50% earned $35,000 or more annually) appears consistent with the published demographics that indicate gay men and lesbians are well educated with household incomes above the national average. One serious omission of this study could not be avoided: the absence of the large number of gay men who have died of AIDS since it was identified in 1981. Those individuals who were first affected by the disease would have had a great deal more to share about how the emergence of the virus impacted the GLBT community. 81

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Their efforts to find the cause of their own illness and to gain access to treatment would have given a much broader perspective on IDV/AIDS and the GLBT civil rights movement. The loss of these subjects for research will forever leave a gap in the body of knowledge about the impact oflllV/AIDS on the GLBT community. The loss of these individuals for their families and friends can never be measured. This study was a powerful learning experience for me. The participants were extremely open and honest in relating important episodes in their lives. The recitation of many important and intimate experiences created a bonding between interviewer and interviewee that was unexpected. I am truly grateful that I was so gracefully received by them. 82

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APPENDIX A INDIVIDUAL QUESTIONNAIRE 1. In which age group do you belong? (OPTIONAL) 18-34 __ 46-65 __ Over 65 --35 -45 __ 2. What is your racial/ethnic background? (OPTIONAL) Caucasian --Hispanic __ Asian _....___ African-American --Other --3. How long have you lived In this city? 1-5 years __ 5 10 years __ 10-15 years __ Over 15 years __ 4. Indicate your highest level of education high school __ Some college __ College degree __ College+ __ 5. Indicate your household income category Below $25,000 $25,000$35,000 $35,000$50,000 ----$50,000+_ 6. How do you identifY yourself related to the GLBT community? (OPTIONAL) lesbian --straight_ bisexual __ gay __ transgendered __ 83

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7. When did you become aware ofyoursexual orientation? 8. What were the circumstances surrounding your "coming out?" 9. Do you believe there is a distinguishable movement for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered (GLBT) civil rights In your city? 10 If so, when did it begin? 11. What or who was/is involved In the movement? 12. What has been your involvement? 13. How do you think the outbreak oflllV/AIDS impacted the GLBT coinmunity generally? 14. How did itimpact you personally and your politics In particular? 15. In the overall scheme of things, how important do you believe the IDV/AIDS epidemic was as a motivating force In mobilizing the GLBT community to work toward greater rights? 16. What factors would you consider significant In motiving your involvement In this movement? 17. Can you rank these factors In order of their importance to your decision? 18. Please cite specific individuals and incidents that were key In your decision to become involved In the GLBT civil rights movement. 19. What are your goals for the future regarding GLB T civil rights? 20. Who else do you recommend I talk to regarding this issue? 84

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APPENDIXB AGENCY QUESTIONNAIRE I. How long has this agency/organization been In existence? Less than 5 years __ 5 -I 0 years I 0 I5 years __ More than I5 years __ 2. Please describe the work that the agency/organization does. 3. Around which issues was your agency/organization originally formed? 4. What have been some of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of your organization during its time of service to the GLBT community? 5 How do you think the outbreak ofHIV/AIDS impacted the GLBT community generally? 6 How did it impact your agency/organization and its politics In particular? 7. In the overall scheme of things, how important do you believe the HIV/AIDS epidemic was as a significant factor In the growth of your agency/organization? 8. What other factors would you consider significant In the growth of your agency/organization? 9. Can you rank these factors In order of their importance to your work? I 0. Please cite specific individuals and incidents that were key to the development of your agency/organization. 85

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11. What are your agency/organization's goals for the future regarding GLBT civil rights? 12. Do you know of other agencies/organizations I should interview regarding this issue? 86

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APPENDIXC CONSENT FORM QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THESIS RESEARCH IllY/AIDS AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT FOR THE GAY/LESBIAN/BISEXUAUTRANSGENDERED POPULATION I understand that I am participating In research being conducted by Frank J. Shaw In preparation of his Master's degree thesis. The research will consist of one interview of approximately one hour. This will be my only involvement with the research. I am participating In this research solely as a volunteer and do not anticipate any problems arising from the interview .If I begin to feel that my reputation could be damaged by participating In the research or that I could face any embarrassment because of it, I know that I can withdraw from the research at any time. I understand that though it is unlikely, there is always the possibility that information obtained through interviews could be made public and that embarrassment could result. The interview will be held In a pre-determined location upon which the researcher and I agree. The interview site will likely be at an agency which will allow the private use of a conference room. I further understand that the interview will be tape recorded so that the researcher can transcribe it. At no time will my name be used and no one except the interviewer will have access to the tapes or the tnmscriptions. I understand that I can ask questions about the study and can stop the interview and my participation at any time without any penalty. I also have the right to contact the Office of Academic Affairs at CU-Denver Building, Suite 700,303-556-2550 ifi have additional questions. Interviewee Name Date Interviewer Name Date 2729 S. Oakland Circle West. Aurora. CO 80014, 303-400-0441,0441, babsherselfjuno com 87

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APPENDIXD GLOSSARY From the beginning of the study, these definitions provided insight into understanding the value and qualities of those who chose each identifier. The word "gay'' is frequently equated with homosexUal. Though this is the case, I learned that there are shadings that extend the identification beyond sexual orientation. It begins for many with personal separation from past connotations of homosexual that included being stigmatized as mentally ill. For many gay men the word signifies the acceptance of their own sexual orientation and the dedication to support their civil rights movement. ''Lesbianism" is usually defined as the strong attraction by young females toward other females. For most lesbians, there was not one conscious act leading to this attraction, but rather it came as a response to complex inner feelings (Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, 1990). "Bisexuality'' is the condition where an individual experiences sexual attraction toward members of their own sex as well as the opposite sex and has the desire to engage In sexual relationships with both groups (Encyclopedia, 1990). "Transgendered" refers to those individuals who believe they were born as one sex but are emotionally and mentally the opposite sex. At times this confusion of identity results In cross-dressing; at other times it includes medical efforts to actually change sexes (Encyclopedia, 1990). 88

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REFERENCES Adams, BarryD. 1995 The Rise of a Gay and Lesbian Movement, Twayne Publishers. Alwood, Edward 1996 Straight News: Gays, Lesbians, and the News Media, Columbia University Press. New York. Cruikshank, Margaret 1992 The Gay and Lesbian Liberation Movement, Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Inc, New York D'Emilio, John 1983 Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority In the United States 1940-1970, University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Dynes, R, editor 1990 Encyclopedia ofHomosexuality, Garland Press, New York. Editors of the Harvard Law Review 1989 Sexual Orientation and the Law, Harvard Law Review, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. Freeman, Jo and Victoria Johnson, editors 1999 "AIDS, Anger, and Activism: Act Up as a Social Movement Organization," by Abigail Halcli In Waves of Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Md. Gerzon, Mark 1997 A House Divided, Putnam Books, New York. Gorman, Christine 1998 "When Did AIDS Begins?" The Body, Spring issue, on line, available from http://www.thebody.com. Gross, Larry 1993 Contested Closets: The Politics and Ethics of Outing. University of Minnesota Press. 89

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Kinsella, James 1989 Covering The Plague: AIDS and the American Media, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N.J. Kinsey, Alfred, Wardell b. Pomeroy, Clyde E. Martin 1948 Sexual Behavior In the Human Male, W. B Saunders, Philadelphia. Kramer, Larry 1994 Reports From The Holocaust: The Story Of An AIDS Activist, St. Martin's Press, New York. Nava, Michael and Robert Dawidoff 1994 Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter To America, St. Martin's Press, New York. O'Brien; David M. 1997 Constitutional Law and Politics: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, W. W. Norton & Co., NY. Rimmerman, Craig U Kenneth D. Wald, Clyde Wilcox, editors 2000 The Politics of Gay Rights, The University of Chicago Press. Chicago. Rofes, Eric 1998 Dry Bones Breathe, Past AIDS Identities and Cultures, Harrington Park Press, New York. Rothenberg, Paula S. 2000 "The Invention of Heterosexuality," Jonathan Ned Katz, Race, Class, and Gender In the United States, Worth Publishers, NY 2000. Schaefer, RichardT. 2001 Sociology, McGraw Hill, Boston. Shilts, Randy 1987 And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, St. Martin's Press. New York. Shilts, Randy 1998 Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians In the U. S. Military. 90

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Shilts, Randy 1988 The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, St. Martin's Press. New York Stein, Peter L. 1998 The Castro. A television documentary produced by KQED, San Francisco. Utah AIDS Foundation 1995 Volunteer Training Manual. Compiled by UAF staff. White, Ryan and Ann Marie Cunningham 1991 Ryan White: My Own Story, Dial Books, New York. FOLLOWING ARE THE CODED NAMES OF INTERVIEWEES Betty. Denver, Colorado. March 21,2001 Bud. Denver, Colorado. June 12,2001 Byron. Denver, Colorado. May 9, 2001 Carl. Denver, Colorado. April13, 2001 Cary. Salt Lake City, Utah. March 20, 2001 Charles. Salt Lake City, Utah. March 20, 2001 Dan Denver, Colorado. May 22,2001 Dave. Salt Lake City, Utah. March 20,2001 Donald. Denver, Colorado. May 24, 2001 Peter. Denver, Colorado. June 7, 2001 Randy. Denver, Colorado. June 20,2001 Sterling. Salt Lake City, Utah. March 21, 2001 Tom. Denver, Colorado. June 14,2001 91