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Trauma and activism appear to be in contradistinction—the former defined by elusivity and concealment, being hidden and out-of-sight; and the latter by action, out-in-the-open, in public. However, the evolution of activism for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) people begins with, and is inseparable from, psychological reclamation and regeneration.


Oral histories of LGBTQ people repeatedly contain narratives of stigmatization—familial, legal, medical, religious, and social—and stories of violence and bashing, shunning and shaming, incarceration and institutionalization. We find activism proceeding from these wounded and traumatized narratives. And, just as trauma is often elusive, so is our history, which is also hidden, unknown, lost, or partially documented.


The single-most fundamental LGBTQ strategy has been coming out of the closet. Outspoken: Oral History from LGBTQ Pioneers, through videotaped interviews, is recording this progression from "the personal to the political" from the very pioneers who founded these early political organizations—Gay Liberation Front, Dyketactics, the Effeminists, Gay Activists Alliance, Radicalesbians, Radicalqueens, and Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries. Forty-five years after the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, advanced age, HIV/AIDS, and other illnesses have taken their toll and so we are capturing extraordinary stories from these witnesses to change before they are lost forever.


Many Outspoken narratives contain contemplative views about the future for LGBTQ people. Advances toward basic human rights have taken place, such as marriage equality in a handful of states, but these are very recent victories. It was only in 2003 that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned anti-sodomy laws. Globally, the fate of LGBTQ people is more dubious with recent anti-homosexual legislation enacted in countries on several continents, often exported from the U.S. by homophobic, evangelical Christian churches.



© Copyright 2017 by Steven F. Dansky

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