Have you ever walked down the street and peeked into your neighbors window and wondered what really goes on when the curtains are closed? I know I have and this was kind of how I felt after I had finished reading The Right Side of History, 100 years of LGBTQI Activism.
This is not your average history book and if you are looking for the definitive guide to LGBTQI history, this might not be the book you are seeking. That said, I think this book is far more fascinating and personal as it contains reflections and essays from many who were maybe not at the forefront of activism, but were certainly in the trenches, so to speak.
My personal favorite essay is penned by Matt Ebert and is entitled: The Red Camaro. This short but powerful chapter hit home in more ways than perhaps it should have. I’m a cis female for the record and always have been as straight as they come but growing up, I had many gay friends as I was lucky enough to live in a more Metropolitan area of the UK. Matt’s words rang so true for me, and I could identify with his experiences as he fights with himself and finding a place in society where he felt accepted was something that I saw so many of my own friends struggle with. I also identified with the fight against the aids epidemic of the early eighties. Even though there may have been on two different continents the feelings of loss were the same. The fight against the silence was deafening at times.
“I had other lovers in ACT UP. One stands out because he picked me up in a red Chevy Camaro and drove me to meetings. We spent four years in an embrace that may have lasted a lifetime. I was so in love, and or te first time in my life I had met a guy who loved me just as much. It was short lived – his health declined rapidly. But I was determined to stay with him, follow my heart, and navigate our now crippled sex life He was that beautiful, a Mexican and Italian-American mix with a face divine, a flawless body white as marble, chisled as Michelangelo’s David. He was a fighter flushed out of a desperate corner, strained with no gloves or headgear and like me, he had grown up wild and free, only to watch his world crumble like a sawdust dumpling.
He died on October 16, 1992. I will never forget that day. Sometimes you hear people talk about where they were when JFK died, or 9/11. I would easily forget those dates before I would forget the day my true love died. That day a meteorite struck my heart, and the crater made a carbon footprint for life. I drank so hard I died again. Now the blackouts came like mighty waves with no warning.”
I didn’t pick this particular passage because it was depressing, but because not only is it beautifully written, it shows why the author became an activist for the cause. It shows that there is a story and in many cases a particularly powerful one, and that no mater what gender or sexuality you identify with our feelings of intense loss are the same when we loss the one we love too early. Some choose to wallow, lost in the grief but many like the author, choose a cause and begin to fight for it with all their might.
Most of The Right Side of History is written this way and allows us, the readers, to take a peek inside windows and behind what are often closed blinds to discover the true story behind the choice to fight for a cause, in this case, the rights of LGBTQI community. This fight for many has a long way yet to go and will always be a struggle. This book is an important and in many cases emotional read and walk through history. It’s raw in places and healing in others. If you have no idea of the history of this cause this would be a great place to start and peek through those hidden windows, called sexuality.
You can purchase your own copy of by clicking on the link.
The good people at Cleis Press have made available one copy of this fascinating book for me to giveaway to one lucky reader. This giveaway is unfortunately open only to those in the USA, but if that’s you then please enter below and good luck.