A compelling critique of the gay and lesbian movements in the U.S. and the limits of identity politics
From Identity to Politics
The Lesbian and Gay Movements in the United States
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Craig A. Rimmerman
Finalist for the Lambda Literary Foundation's 15th Annual Lambda Literary Award in Biography, 2003
Liberal democracy has provided a certain degree of lesbian and gay rights. But those rights, as we now know, are not unlimited, and they continue to be the focus of efforts by lesbian and gay movements in the United States to promote social change. In this compelling critique, Craig Rimmerman looks at the past, present, and future of the movements to analyze whether it is possible for them to link identity concerns with a progressive coalition for political, social, and gender change, one that take into account race, class, and gender inequalities.
Enriched by eight years of interviews in Washington, D.C. and New York City, and by the author's experience as a Capitol Hill staffer, From Identity to Politics will provoke discussion in classrooms and caucus rooms across the United States.
"Craig Rimmerman has written the best kind of academic book, one that is rich in factual detail yet broad in its perspective. His critique of the current lesbian and gay movements clarifies the limitations that are inherent in a narrow identity politics and makes a strong case for building even broader coalitions and doing more grassroots organizing. Any student of social movements, and especially students of the lesbian and gay movements, will find this book a rewarding read."
"Craig Rimmerman has written an insightful book that belongs on the bookshelf of not only students of gay and lesbian politics, but of everyone interested in social movements. His thoughtful critique of various strategies that various movement activists have chosen will be enormously helpful to academics and activists alike."
"Rigorous but accessible, this poli-sci take on the struggle for gay and lesbian rights offers a blueprint for those readers interested in actively linking identity-driven movements with broader progressive agendas concerning class, race and gender issues to forge a coalition for social and political change."
"This book offers three distinct yet interconnected themes. First, it serves as a fine outline and introduction to discrete phases in the history of US lesbian and gay political history. Second, it introduces concepts critical to the study of the evolution of any political movement and attaches them specifically to the lesbian and gay movements. Finally, it challenges readers to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of the phases and raises questions about why some approaches worked while others did not. ... Highly recommended."
"[T]he author, a political scientist, has written a thoughtful study, at once descriptive and prescriptive, that explores the rise, struggles, and future of the gay rights movement."
Read a review from Political Science Quarterly (Summer 2003), written by Miriam Smith (pdf).
Read a review from Argumentation and Advocacy, Summer 2002 (pdf).
Appendix A: Platform of the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation
In the series
Queer Politics, Queer Theories, edited by Craig Rimmerman.
The last ten years have seen the growth of rich research in the politics of sexuality. Queer Politics, Queer Theories, edited by Craig Rimmerman, aims at developing this research both within and across disciplines. The series will focus on politics in the broadest sense: not only state- and government-oriented studies, but also community politics and the internal politics of new social movements. Such work may originate in political science, sociology, economics, American studies, philosophy, law, history, or anthropology. The series will be defined not by particular academic disciplines but by the questions raised in it. The keys are a concern for the play of power and meaning in discussions of sexuality, and/or a reading of the role of sexuality and sexual identities in conceptions of social and political studies or in our common life.