The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle

Lillian Faderman

Simon & Schuster, 2015

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

The sweeping story of the modern struggle for gay, lesbian, and trans rights, from the 1950s to the present, based on amazing interviews with politicians, military figures, legal activists, and members of the entire LGBT community who face these challenges every day.

The fight for gay, lesbian, and trans civil rights, the years of outrageous injustice, the early battles, the heart-breaking defeats, and the victories beyond the dreams of the gay rights pioneers, is the most important civil rights issue of the present day. Based on rigorous research and more than 150 interviews, The Gay Revolution tells this unfinished story not through dry facts but through dramatic accounts of passionate struggles, with all the sweep, depth, and intricacies only an award-winning activist, scholar, and novelist like Lillian Faderman can evoke.

The Gay Revolution begins in the 1950s, when law classified gays and lesbians as criminals, the psychiatric profession saw them as mentally ill, the churches saw them as sinners, and society victimized them with irrational hatred. Against this dark backdrop, a few brave people began to fight back, paving the way for the revolutionary changes of the 1960s and beyond. Faderman discusses the protests in the 1960s; the counter reaction of the 1970s and early eighties; the decimated but united community during the AIDS epidemic; and the current hurdles for the right to marriage equality.

In the words of the eyewitnesses who were there through the most critical events, The Gay Revolution paints a nuanced portrait of the LGBT civil rights movement. A defining account, this is the most complete and authoritative book of its kind.


Winner: 81st annual Anisfeld-Wolf Book Award

Finalist for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction

A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2015.

A New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015

Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Books of 2015

The Guardian Six Top Books of LGBT Life of 2019

“Riveting…Compelling…Ambitious…The Gay Revolution will equip readers with a greater knowledge of the movement’s history, and an appreciation for the crucial role of individual acts of courage in winning and safeguarding equality. And it’s a great read.”
American Prospect

“A tour de force…this rich reference book provides brief descriptions of every major triumph, setback, organization, and personality in this long struggle, all told in an engaging way by this gifted storyteller...An indispensable addition to any academic research library…”

“There are a few books every year I wish I had written. The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman just leapt to the top of that list. It is, unquestionably, a landmark book and will likely be the template by which subsequent scholarship on our collective lesbian and gay history will be judged... a monumental scholarship. A must read.”
Lambda Literary

“Faderman’s book populates even the familiar corners of gay history with new and vivid life…a truly balanced account of the movement as a whole, given that such accounts have often heavily favored men....An investment in these pages yields the full complexity of the journey—its contingencies and ironies, its eddies and byways, and its unresolved conflicts….Faderman has gloriously fanatical commitment to illuminating and commemorating her subjects. To read her is like viewing the AIDS quilt, which overwhelms the viewer with the care taken in each of its numberless panels. Any revolutionary would be lucky to stand in a light so steady, so searching, and so sure.”
New York Times Book Review

“A useful compendium of decades of LGBT activism”
San Fransico Chronicle

“Faderman is an out gay scholar and the depth of her research is breathtaking, as is her engaging style that illuminates the individual stories of many who faced countless injustices because of their sexual identity…The Gay Revolution is a cogent, definitive history of the movement and a towering achievement by Lillian Faderman. It belongs in every GLBTQ home, definitely available in every public school library and sent to every homophobic politician in Washington.”
Huffington Post

The Gay Revolution should be taught in every civil rights class in every high school and on every campus. And everyone, all of you, should buy it and read it. I won’t ask you to do it for us, the old ones who gave so much for so many decades (although I want to ask, but I don’t need to guilt you). I will ask you to do it because this is the most honest, compelling history of our movement, and if you participated, you will love remembering, and if you did not, it will inspire you to passionately rise up and get involved.”

“Faderman offers a compelling read of a little-known part of our nation's history, and of individuals whose stories range from heart-wrenching to inspiring to enraging to motivational. The Gay Revolution is a book worth reading.”
Chicago Tribune

“Lillian Faderman’s new book, The Gay Revolution, is the most comprehensive history to date of America’s gay-rights movement. Ms Faderman has ably drawn the map that future historians of the struggle will use to chart their courses.” 

“Faderman has crafted an epic yet remarkably intimate work that belongs among the most definitive civil rights titles, LGBT-specific or otherwise. Faderman’s writing conveys such fresh passion that readers will feel like they are experiencing these history-altering moments in real time. This book is destined to be one of the lasting contributions to the literature of the gay rights movement.”
Booklist (starred)

“Faderman’s immense cultural history will give today’s LGBTQ activists both a profound appreciation of their forebears and the motivation to carry the struggle forward.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“In this superbly researched book, acclaimed LGBT scholar Faderman examines the roots of the sociopolitical movement that, for the last 60 years, has worked to achieve justice for LGBT people…Throughout this engaging and extremely well-documented book, Faderman clearly shows that for the LGBT community, equality is not a completed goal. Yet the ideal of fully integrated citizenship is closer to becoming reality than ever before. Inspiring and necessary reading for all Americans interested in social justice.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

The Gay Revolution…is highly readable, superbly researched and filled with fascinating stories…This is an essential guide to the gay and lesbian movement, brought to life by a meticulous historian who is also a natural storyteller.”
Shelf Awareness

"Lillian Faderman’s long and involving book The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle is an exhaustive and detailed account of the battle to win civil rights for members of the LGBTQ community and for those seeking same-sex marriages. Happily, young people in the west today face far less prejudice than those who went before them, but I would recommend it to anyone who wants to recognise the bravery of those who fought, and sometimes died, in order to build a more inclusive world.
—The Guardian