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How the Religious Right Shaped Lesbian and Gay Activism

Tina Fetner
Volume: 31
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 184
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttvb8d
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  • Book Info
    How the Religious Right Shaped Lesbian and Gay Activism
    Book Description:

    In this accessible and grounded work, Tina Fetner uncovers a complex relationship between the gay rights and religious right movements. She shows how gay activists and the religious right have established a symbiotic relationship in which each side significantly affects the development of its counterpart, demonstrating how the contentious relationship between the two movements challenges assumptions about how social movements are shaped by their rivals.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6633-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxiv)

    October 1970. New York, New York. Dozens of radical lesbian and gay activists took over the offices of the publisher ofHarper’s Magazine. The magazine had just published an article about the gay lifestyle, claiming that homosexuality is an anathema. The author, Joseph Epstein, wrote “if I had the power to do so, I would wish homosexuality of the face of this earth” (1970, 51). The protesters served breakfast pastries and coffee to the office workers, introducing themselves as homosexuals. They met with the editors, shook the hands of secretaries and receptionists, and sang folk songs. By the end of...

  5. 1 The Roots of Activism: Homosexuals and Christian Evangelicals before the Fight
    (pp. 1-22)

    In the 1950s and 1960s the worlds of homosexuals and Christian evangelicals could not have been further apart. Neither of these groups had much of a presence in the political sphere, yet this era was a critical period in which the ideological and structural foundations of each of these movements were laid. Through much of the middle of the century, Christian evangelicals were dedicated to withdrawal not only from politics but from the secular world more generally, as they perceived it to be filled with harmful, immoral influences. From the 1930s through the 1960s, evangelical Christians were dedicated to building...

  6. 2 The Conflict Emerges in the 1970s
    (pp. 23-43)

    The grassroots political activism of the early 1970s was certainly not limited to lesbian and gay issues. The cycle of protest in the United States was at a historic peak during this time period, and political and cultural changes fought for by the women’s movement, the civil rights and Black Power movements, the antiwar movement, and the New Left created a culture of political upheaval and a sense of imminent change that was empowering to some but unsettling to many others. In successfully mobilizing around a number of political issues, these social movements provided an excellent demonstration that grassroots activism...

  7. 3 Organizational Development through the 1980s
    (pp. 44-63)

    In the 1980s the lesbian and gay movement experienced a significant organizational transformation. At the start of the decade, the movement consisted of stand-alone, grassroots organizations in bigger cities and on college campuses, along with a few national organizations that were so underfunded and understaffed that their activism consisted mostly of publishing newsletters and advising local groups. Over the course of the decade, while these local activist groups in major cities and on college campuses continued to toil, several umbrella organizations and national lobbying groups were developed and expanded. Small organizations grew, new organizational were created, and others started up...

  8. 4 Where’s the Party? Entering the Republican and Democratic Folds
    (pp. 64-83)

    The 1980s saw a major transformation within the religious right. The Moral Majority, led by Reverend Jerry Falwell, expanded dramatically and swiftly, mobilizing hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of followers (Moen 1995, 126). Just as quickly, however, this organization and others of its brief generation declined and then collapsed. By 1986 the Moral Majority no longer existed. In its place emerged a much stronger organization, Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, as well as a host of social movement groups that identify themselves as pro-family organizations. This second generation of religious right organizations was much more politically sophisticated than its predecessors, appealed...

  9. 5 Taking to the Streets: Protest and Direct Democracy
    (pp. 84-100)

    As the 1980s continued, the AIDS crisis grew, and many decried the lack of governmental leadership to address the epidemic. In response, the lesbian and gay community spearheaded numerous efforts to provide services, education, and advocacy for people with HIV. As the AIDS movement and the lesbian and gay movement became higher-profile national movements over the course of the decade, a smaller, more radical faction began to coalesce within them. This began with angry AIDS activists and extended quickly to the queer movement, a band of activists strongly influenced by poststructuralist queer theory (Duggan 1992). These self-identified radicals were less...

  10. 6 Culture Wars: Battles for the Hearts and Minds of America
    (pp. 101-118)

    As historian John D’Emilio notes (2002, ix), “in the 1990s, the world finally did turn and notice the gay folks in its midst.” This sea change, in which gay and lesbian lives became visible to a much wider swath of Americans, D’Emilio claims, was dramatic and irreversible. Representations of lesbians and gay men became increasingly apparent in mainstream cultural venues, and public discourse around sexual identity and lesbian and gay rights increased greatly. As the religious right and the lesbian and gay movements’ activism continued to gain influence, politicians began to adopt pro-gay or anti-gay positions, and political parties added...

  11. 7 The Impact of the Religious Right on Lesbian and Gay Activism
    (pp. 119-130)

    In this book I have followed two opposing movements during thirty years of activism. From this longitudinal perspective, it is clear that these movements have ebbed and flowed in concert with each other, the actions of one affecting the choices and the repertoire of the other. The story of these two opposing movements is one of bitterness and angst, of sustained conflict and acrimony. However, it is also a story of movement growth and mobilization, with many moments of success for both sides. Each of these movements has grown exponentially from its early days of grassroots mobilization, and the conflict...

  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 131-144)
  13. Index
    (pp. 145-156)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 157-159)