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Review of Stonewall

bausum_stonewallstar2 Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
by Ann Bausum
Middle School, High School     Viking     120 pp.
5/15     978-0-670-01679-2     $16.99

Bausum begins her history of the gay rights movement with a careful, detailed exposition of the June 1969 Stonewall riots, laying out the events leading up to the clash between the Greenwich Village gay community and the police and putting those events in the context of time and place. She dedicates the first half of the book to the riots themselves, drawing on reports, interviews, and other first-person accounts to put together a candid linear narrative that takes into consideration the perspectives of both sides of the conflict. And on both sides there is nuance, from different factions in the gay community advocating for peaceful or more combative protest to the militancy of the Tactical Patrol Force at the time (and the subsequent remorse of some of the officers involved). Bausum presents the riots as a galvanizing moment that gave the gay rights movement some traction, and traces its evolution in a more cursory way for the second half of the book. Her coverage includes the Christopher Street Liberation Day march, Harvey Milk, the AIDS crisis, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” DOMA, going up through United States v. Windsor, and arriving at the (pre–Ireland vote) present, which she characterizes with hopeful momentum. Bausum writes with the precision of a journalist; there is never any doubt as to what she wonders, what she conjectures, and what she knows. The resulting narrative integrity makes her observations and her conclusions about the persecution and resilience of the LGBTQ community all the more powerful. Back matter includes an extensive bibliography, copious source notes, and a heartfelt author’s note.

From the July/August 2015 Special Awards issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

For more in The Horn Book’s Pride Month series, click on the tag LGBT Pride 2016.

Thom Barthelmess About Thom Barthelmess

Thom Barthelmess is Youth Services Manager for the Whatcom County Library System in northwest Washington State.

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