Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Harvey Milk His Lives and Death by Lillian Faderman - 2018 - From The Yale University Jewish Lives Series

A Post in Observation of Harvey Milk Day 

Harvey Milk

May 22, 1930 born Woodmere, NY 

January 28, 1978 - Elected to The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco - first openly Gay elected official in the history of California 

November 27, 1978 -  murdered

Today is the 87 birthday of Harvey Milk.  I hope  one day May 22 will be an American National Holiday in 
honor of centuries of oppression of GLBT Citizens, a bigotry very far from over.  From now on The Reading Life will honor this day.  I hope other book bloggers will join me.  

Harvey Milk His Lives and Death by Lillian Faderman (included in The Yale University Jews Lives Series) does wonderfully suceed in bringing Harvey Milk vividly to life.  Her book is not just a factual biography of a man who helped changed the world but a very good account of what it meant in his pre-San Francisco days to be a homosexual who felt she or he had to keep their sexuality a secret, from parents, employers, landlords and a society where to indulge in homosexual acts was a crime. 

In his younger days, maybe up to thirty, Milk acted the part of a straight young man, he was very into sports and even joined the Navy.  Milk as soon as he had sexual feelings, knew he was Gay.  He began sexual activity around 15.  He lived in the pre-AIDS era, there was little danger in his activity.  As he got older he developed a series of relationships. Often his partners 
were younger men in need of a guidance.  He got a very good job on Wall Street but he never really liked it.  He moved to Texas for a while before ending up in San Fransisco where in March 1973 he opened Castro Camera.  In 1973 there were strict heavily enforced laws against homosexual activity.  Oral sex was a crime for anyone.  

Faderman does a wonderful job showing us how Castro Camera came to informal headquarters for elements of Gay San Francisco.  Milk caught the political bug, he ran for supervisor two times before he won.  Faderman explains the various elements in Gay political Life in San Francisco, it was interestingly fragmented. We learn a lot about the electoral process. Once elected Milk pushes hard for the passage of laws to help not just Gays, but the elderly, poorer residents and for very laudable quality of life issues.  (Back in 1973 property costs had not yet driven out all but the most affluent.)

I dont want to go over how he died.  

I am really glad I read this book.  Faderman has a very interesting discussion of the part his Jewish roots influenced him.

Yale University Press gave me a review copy

Lillian Faderman is an internationally known scholar of lesbian and LGBT history and literature, as well as ethnic history and literature.. 

Faderman's work has been translated into numerous languages, including German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Turkish, Czech, and Slovenian. Among her many honors are six Lambda Literary Awards, two American Library Association Awards, and several lifetime achievement awards for scholarship, including Yale University's James Brudner Award, the Monette/Horwitz Award, the Publishing Triangle Award, the Golden Crown Literary Society Trailblazer Award, the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives Culture Hero Award, and the American Association of University Women's Distinguished Senior Scholar.  From

Mel u

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