Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“Growing Up Twice: Shaping a Future by Reliving My Past” by Aaron Kirk Douglas— Reliving Life

growing up twice

Douglas, Aaron Kirk. “Growing Up Twice: Shaping a Future by Reliving My Past”, Newsworthy Books; , 2015.

Reliving Life

Amos Lassen

Aaron Kirk Douglas looks at the emotional risks and the rewards that he had during the period that he was mentoring a young Latino boy. At the same time he learned a great deal about himself. Douglas is an award-winning social activist and mentor in the Big Brother Big Sister program. Before that he was a journalist and documentary filmmaker. He shares what goes inside of himself while working with an at-risk youngster and he tells us how it was to be just a weekend mentor.

Rico is a fatherless foster child that Douglas meets through Big Brothers Big Sisters. In working with him, he has had to face his own \ memories-and pain-of growing up gay in rural Oregon without the love and acceptance that he wanted from his own father. His experience leads him to forge a new kind of family–the kind one creates for oneself.

This is a book that is filled with raw emotions and inspiration but there is also humor and motivation. It also brings forth question as to whether the life we are now living is as challenging as it should be. Douglas is a man who has a great deal of courage and he drives himself.

Douglas’ story is not only rich and complex but it is also the story of a gay man who was looking for something more in his life. Just because, hg decided to mentor a young at-risk male and at first felt overwhelmed and unsure that Rico would l like him. As the two begin their journey of acquaintance, we see that both Douglas and Rico have their own insecurities and uncertainties as they learn about one another and find they have a lot more in common than they ever realized. Over the course of their relationship, Douglas sees Rico through foster care, placement back with his illegal immigrant mother, and trouble with the law. They become friend and later “family” but it took a while for Douglas to understand that there is more to being a mentor than playing ball and going to movies. He soon realized that he was dealing with much the same pain as was Rico. We become very aware of the life-changing power of unconditional love and perseverance. When and Rico were matched up by Big Brother/Big Sister, Douglas saw that they did not have much in common but as time progressed, they began to learn from each other about how to deals the struggles that life presents us. with life’s struggles.

Douglas saw that he had certain tools that he used on himself to deal with his own childhood and he was able to teach those to Rico. Of course there were periods of struggle but persistence made him stay and work with Rico. This is not just a story but also a reflective journey of “mentorship, of brotherhood, of struggle, of fatherhood, of friendship”. While Douglas’ own story is sad and heartbreaking, it is encouraging to read about how he, without any legal ties, was able to work with Rico who had been selected for him at random. Douglas became determined that Rico was to have his chances at a good life.

It all began when Douglas naively decided that he could have a positive influence on a child with a troubled background. Rico, however, had other ideas. As Douglas dealt his fears and concern for the boy whose life he’d agreed to work with, Rico’s anger and destructive apathy made it very difficult. The two seemed to constantly antagonize each other (at first). Douglas soon understood that he had become impatient and uncertain to the point of becoming resentful and this is not what was expected of him as a mentor to a troubled boy. Ultimately he learned to look past himself to find ways of being able to incorporate direction into young Rico’s life. First off was his refusal to give in to problems and obstacles and he began to find truth and beauty in unexpected places and then brought that to Rico, sometimes quite bluntly.

We see the boy and the man change each other and they both gained a great deal. We, the readers also gained by Douglas’ writing this book. What makes this such a special read is honesty and self-reflection that make this such a fascinating read. We see quite clearly here that people change and how important it is to accept these changes.

“Equal Ever After: The Fight for Same-Sex Marriage – And How I Made it Happen” by Lynne Featherstone— March 24, 2014

equal ever after

Featherstone, Lynne. “Equal Ever After: The Fight for Same-Sex Marriage – And How I Made it Happen”, Biteback Publishing, 2016.

March 24, 2014

Amos Lassen

On March 23, 2014 same-sex marriage was made legal in Britain. It had taken decades of hard work and campaigning but it finally happened and the marriage of two people of the same sex was legalized and married LGBT couples could begin to enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples. Lynne Featherstone had a lot to do with this. She had been Equalities Minister in the coalition government and she worked with activists, lawyers, campaigners and civil servants to bring about a legal change that would have epic importance to Britain’s LGBT community. We see that this was not an easy thing to do and the opposition was fiercely opposed (I say that to stress the importance). Some of that opposition came from religious communities, from the media and it seemed like it was going to be an impossibility. Featherstone was able to find support and she knew how to use it. One of the most surprising supporters was Theresa May, Home Secretary.

This is the inside story and it is told by the person who was really responsible for pioneering it and staying with it. We read how Stonewall initially tried to “scupper” marriage equality. It was Featherstone who got it all started. As she worked she faced the abuse with which the gay community was regularly confronted. Through her rebuttals against the noise and fury of her opponents, She ultimately made history. She shares revelations about finding allies in unexpected places and encountering resistance from unforeseen foes.

Even though this happened recently, it is still history. We see the emotional lows and the exhilarating highs involved in turning hard-won social acceptance into tangible legal equality.

“Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics” by Timothy Stewart-Winter— The 1960s Forward: Politics and Social Movments

queer clout

Stewart-Winter, Timothy. “Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics”, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.

The 1960s Forward:  Politics and Social Movements

Amos Lassen

I doubt that many consider Chicago when thinking about social movements and politics in this country but we learn here that it is much more representative than other major cities. In “Queer Clout” we learn of the coalitions that gave the LGBTQ voters the power to become a “pivotal political constituency.” There is a lot to be leaned from Chicago; we see from author Timothy Stewart-Winters’ study. I understand that this is the first study based on archival urban gay politics between the 60s and the 90s. It will be on interest to those looking at cities, sexuality and politics in this country.

If gays and lesbians wanted political power in this country, it could only be achieved by going through city hall. By the late 1980s, those who were elected to power were those who had political advantage that came from raiding gay bars and then taking the patrons to the booking stations. The aggressive pursuit of gays and lesbians was a way to form a bloc and the irony was that the campaigning often took place in bars that had been raided or that would be. Then there was a turn in which gays acquired power and influence and they used clout.

The book traces the gay movement from the 1950s through the rise to municipal power as it brings together activism and electoral politics, shifting the story from the major gay meccas to Chicago. Steward-Winter challenges what had been the traditional division between the homophile and gay liberation movements, and stresses that gay people and African Americans were the focus of police harassment. The black civil rights activists played an important part here in that offered gays and lesbians not only a model for protest but also an opening to join an emerging liberal coalition in city hall. The book uses diverse oral histories and archival records over fifty years and also includes undercover vice and police red squad investigators, previously unexamined interviews by social scientists who studied gay life, and newly available papers of activists, politicians, and city agencies.

Here we see the politics of race, religion, and the AIDS crisis in a different light and we also learn how big-city politics paved the way for the gay movement’s unprecedented successes under the nation’s first African American president. Below is the Table of Contents:

List of Abbreviations

Introduction

Chapter 1. A Little World Within a World

Chapter 2. Maximum Feasible Intimidation

Chapter 3. Freaking Fag Revolutionaries

Chapter 4. Clark and Diversey (sic) Is Our Ghetto!

Chapter 5. Lesbian Survival School

Chapter 6. Balance of Power

Chapter 7. A New Disease Is Not Welcome Here

Chapter 8. Flexing Gay Economic Muscle

Notes

Index

Acknowledgments

“Expanding the Circle: Creating an Inclusive Environment in Higher Education for LGBTQ Students and Studies” by John C. Hawley— Integrating LGBTQ into Student Life

expanding the circle cover

Hawley, John C. (editor). “Expanding the Circle: Creating an Inclusive Environment in Higher Education for LGBTQ Students and Studies”, SUNY Press. 2016.

Integrating LGBTQ into Student Life

Amos Lassen

We now have reached an age when the LGBTQ community has finally been integrated into society yet there are still places and areas where it remains marginalized. One of those places is academia even though many educational professionals agree that the time has come to expand their circle of inclusion and broaden their definition of diversity by increasing LGBTQ studies. However, there remains the question of how to do so is still debated.

There are some colleges and universities that have been incorporating LGBTQ studies for decades, courses and programs continue to be pockets of innovation rather than models of inclusion for all of higher education. Respective institutions of higher learning need to encourage faculty members to teach and research a wide range of LGBTQ topics and these same institutions need support student life professionals in the building of inclusive campus communities.

Included in the book are testimonies that prepare educators to possible pitfalls and successes of their policies through an analysis of changing student attitudes. In these case studies, the contributors offer practical suggestions for the classroom and the provost’s office and show the gains that have been made by LGBTQ students and the institutions that serve them, as well as the tensions that are still evident. This is a very important and timely anthology of essays by researchers and practitioners. The best of what we learn comes from those who work directly with students or in the filed of LBBTQ studies as an academic discipline. Probably the most important thing that we get here is a comprehensive overview of issues facing LGBTQ students in higher education in the US and those seeking to bring queer studies into the academy by incorporating LGBTQ content into curricula. What many do not realize is that there are problems that most of us are unaware of or that should have already been dealt with. Have a look below at the table of contents to see how comprehensive this study is.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Building on a Changing Paradigm John C. Hawley

Part I. Changing Institutional Structures

 

  1. A Website Evaluation of the Top Twenty-Five Public Universities in the United States to Assess Their Support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People Bharat Mehra, Donna Braquet, and Calle M. Fielden

 

  1. Conducted in a Whisper: Some Observations About the Current State of LGBT Studies, and Ten Ways We Can Shout Down the Silence Joshua G. Adair

 

  1. Queering the Academy: A Case Approach to LGBTQ Studies Molly Merryman and K. G. Valente

 

  1. Transgendering the Academy: Transforming the Relationship Between Theory and Praxis Pauline Park

 

Part II. Case Studies

 

  1. Creating Systemic Change Around Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Issues: A Case Analysis and Recommendations

Frank D. Golom

 

  1. Network VA: A Case Study of a Statewide Effort to Build LGBTQ Coalitions for Change on College Campuses

Charles H. Ford and Elizabeth P. Cramer

 

  1. The One-Year Campus-Climate Turnaround: The University of Rhode Island Strives to Become a Leader in LGBTQ Advocacy Karen de Bruin

 

  1. Queering Harvard Yard: Four Decades of Progress for BGLTQ Equality Susan B. Marine, Paul J. McLoughlin II, and Timothy Patrick McCarthy

 

Part III. Changing Student Perceptions

 

  1. Student Development: Theory to Practice in LGBT Campus Work Milton E. Ford, Colette Seguin Beighley, and Ronni Sanlo

 

  1. Queering Service Learning: Promoting Antioppressive Action and Reflection by Undoing Dichotomous Thinking David M. Donahue and Myles Luber

 

  1. Five Proposals on Homophobia David William Foster

 

  1. LGBT Bullying in Schools: Can School Policies Affect Climate? Erik Green

 

  1. Exploring the Boundaries of Self: Using Queer Autobiography to Teach Courses on Identity and Solidarity Across Borders Juan Velasco

 

Part IV. Expanding the Circle

 

  1. Show Me Your ID Jewelle Gomez

 

  1. At the Crossroads: Navigating the Intersection of Spiritual and Sexual Identity Within Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) College Students Beth Bradley and Brian J. Patchcoski

 

  1. New Perspectives on Religion and Spirituality for LGBTQ Students Scotty McLennan

 

  1. Intersections: A Guide to Working with LGBTQI University Students of Minority Religions or Cultures Mychal Copeland and D’vorah Rose

 

  1. Culturally Appropriate Information Support Services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) South Asians: Representing Multiple Shades of Identity Based on Sexual Orientation and Ethnicity Bharat Mehra, Eric Haley, and Dylan Lane

“Godless Circumcisions: A Recollecting & Re-membering of Blackness, Queerness & Flows of Survivance” by Tabias Olajuawon Wilson— Race, Sex and Politics

godless circumcisions

Wilson, Tabias Olajuawon. “Godless Circumcisions: A Recollecting & Re-membering of Blackness, Queerness & Flows of Survivance”, illustrations by Rashad Malik Davis, Sophia Wright and Cydia Flowers, Tabias Olajuawon Wilson, 2016.

Race, Sex and Politics

Amos Lassen

“Godless Circumcisions” is personal essays, poems and biographical tellings that strip issues in the center of black, queer and working class existences.

Author Wilson looks at such topics as “academic authority, queer griot and matter-of-fact honesty, racial-sexual terror; masculine anxiety; how Black men learn the erotic, sex and vulnerability; the stereotypes of Black and BlaQueer people in the United States”. He refers to the total of these issues as assimilation and/or cultural circumcisions and shares his personal and political journey to “a practice of critical love ethics”. His aim is to give us a look at “restoration, redemption and hope for a communal, humanistic homecoming”.

Using the idea that each of us are born whole or complete and that we knew who we are. “We came into this to learn and become part of the larger society and ultimately reach oneness with the cosmos and/or who are was responsible for putting us here. “We were born ready, until they brought out the scalpel”. The bleeding that began then continues into adulthood and it consumes us. Making us

“unable to be fully present, fully us, whole, anywhere”. Our existence is then only considered in the areas of “race, gender, class, profession, religion, sexuality, sex, family, friend, employer, neighbor, caregiver, citizen, resident”. These Godless circumcisions keep us unfree.

 

“The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship” by Paul Licisky— Relationships

the narrow door

Lisicky, Paul. “The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship”, Graywolf Press, 2016.

Relationships

Amos Lassen

Paul Lisicky is an amazing writer —whenever I read something that he has written, I find myself stunned by the beauty of his words and the depth of what he writes. In his new memoir he looks at two of his personal relationships— one with a female novelist and the other with his ex-husband, a famous poet. He immediately tells us that relationships shift easily and are always undergoing change.

With Denise, he found himself so stretched by both his and her demands on their writing that his relationship with his husband was in danger. As if that is not enough pressure, the world was dealing with serious environmental catastrophes—Haiti underwent a massive murderous earthquake and this was a major oil spill in the southern United States. At just the same time, Denise was diagnosed with cancer and both he and his partner realized that their relationship could not continue. As difficult as one loss could be, doubling that made for real challenges. Yet somehow Lisicky remained strong and resilient. That strength shows that it is possible to feel that way while facing loss. He learned something here and that was that the closer he got to people, the more he had to acknowledge their freedom to die and/or leave him. He gives us the tenderness and fragility of relationships and connections while at the same time showing that the human heart is a complicated organ. I usually do not find myself shedding tears as I read but I did here. Dealing with love and loss and friendship and forgiveness, we see that we are all basically alike even though our reactions might differ. The beauty of friendship is often underestimated in this age of technology or in any age. We seldom realize what we have until we no longer have it.

Lisicky gives a look at a friendship that is both romantic and platonic and set against the lives we lead, we are reminded that everything has a time limit. We sometimes forget that friendship can be a collective noun and that it includes everything we deal with when we are alive. The real beauty is the timelessness of what is written here and the portrait of true friendship.

I suppose I was not listening or did not hear that Lisicky broke up with the poet and I wondered why I did not know that something happened. I was in the midst of reading and writing a review of his ex’s poems but did not realize that they were no longer together. I remember going to both Facebook pages to see if I missed something and I did notice that neither man referenced the other and I thought perhaps they figured that their private lives were indeed just that, private.

The questions and issues dealt with here are among those that either have no answers to have very personal responses. These are those we try to avoid in conversation yet nag at us. Perhaps we should talk about them but for whatever reason, we do have the words. I am not sure that I caught all that is here and I believe that each of us can see this book differently but I sincerely doubt that anyone can walk away from it unmoved.

New in January from Bruno Gmunder

bruno

New in January from Bruno Gmunder

 pard

Dale Lavrov & Bo Revel

“Pardners”

A rakish Nashville country music stud goes shopping for a spectacular steel guitar with his entourage. In the guitar store, the dealer daddy also catches his eye. Turns out the guitar dealer is looking to buy what the country star is selling in his skin-tight jeans… Nu-Country and Ol’ Country meet and more than make nice in PARDNERS!

Illustrator Bo Revel renders Dale Lazarov’s wordless erotic fantasies with lines laid down so sensually you suspect they’re going to bed with each other between panels.” — Howard Cruse, author of  Stuck Rubber Baby and  Wendel All Together

Script and art direction by Dale Lazarov, Linework and colors by Bo Revel

Pages: 64

Color: Full color

Cover: Hardcover

Format: 7 x 9 1/2″ (17,5 x 24,0 cm)

Preis: US$ 24.00 / £ 14.99 / € 19,99

ISBN: 978-3-95985-058-2

berlin

Spartacus

“Spartacus Berlin Gay Guide”

When elsewhere the streets empty for the night, the fun justs starts in Berlin. Even during the day it never gets boring. With the abundance of clubs, bars, museums, galeries, and theaters one can quickly lose the overview. But not with this guide. This completely revised edition includes many free tickets and vouchers to various parties and sights—a must-have for every Berlin visitor.

Pages: 208

Color: Full color

Cover: Softcover

Languages: German / English

Format: 4 1/4 x 7″ (10,5 x 18,0 cm)

Preis: US$ 20.99 / £ 11.99 / € 11,95

ISBN: 978-3-86787-860-9

 

 

 

 

“Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger” by Brontez Purnell— One Man’s Thoughts

johnny would....

Purnell, Brontez. “Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger”, Rudos and Rubes Publishing, 2015.

One Man’s Thoughts

Amos Lassen

Brontez Purnell is a hard guy who is also an openhearted romantic. His life revolves around his desires for love, sex and community. His book “Johnny Would You Love Me…” is a series of essays, notes, vignettes, choreographies, and writing. It is all about how loving freedom for yourself and those around you can make one uncomfortable, disruptive and be able to move a great deal. Purnell seems to be saying early on “I don’t care how flexible you are or how well you can dance. I just want to see you move.” Purnell most definitely knows how to move around, as you will see here.

I do not recall ever having read a book that was paced like this one. It is if Purnell is telling us hat we can rest until we have both created and survived. He shares a lot with us and he relates his experiences that eventually lead to larger morals and truths.

There is piece about how he dealt with the way that other’s remarked about him after he posed nude on the cover of a paper in the Bay area. He simply got high and went to Whole Foods. If you live on the West Coast, he tells us that you need to face it head on. We live in context from which escape is impossible.

Purnell is a very sexually active gay man and he shares that and almost everything having to do with it. As we read, he shakes us. He also addresses AIDS and looks at it as a looming virus. He is HIV positive but before that he felt that he would have to fight hard to keep a negative status. Then he says that it was inevitable that he should be positive since we invite bad behavior into our lives.

This sense of the looming virus is something Purnell address in the book at the same moment he discloses. In a passage about bathhouses he writes,“[…] It was before I was positive and I felt like I was going to have to fight like hell to maintain my negative status ‘cause either I liked fun too much or had a death wish (it was hard to discern)…” He provides the story of AIDS he inherited (that it’s something inevitable that we invite into our lives through bad behavior) while doing the work too few others are doing: telling personal, embodied stories of AIDS now.

Purnell describes himself as “an HIV+, black, queer, creative, cis-man with hips and ass he loves to have loved” and he is working out his relationship with the virus and “the collateral experiences it brings, on the page, is of vital importance”. His writing is all over the page and he says that he went to an online bare-backing site and joined because he was out of ideas. What he writes about an experience he had as a result is not of weak people. Purnell writes to share—there are no ulterior motives, no theories, no dogma and no point of view. We need to understand that this relationship to HIV is simply his self-reflection.

His title shows that— he questions friendship and as you read, you will understand why. Purnell does not question the limits of love rather he lets us know how aware he is of the limits and then he walks away from them. He refuses to, adjust his expectations or change from being too much.

I am not sure how to classify this and I won’t try just as I cannot classify Purnell. He, however, is able to compartmentalize his days and does so by relegating them to certain subjects such as creative writing, STD hysteria, junkie lovers, Punk Rock, experimental dance, tour diaries, witchcraft, marijuana, and the pitfalls of restaurant work and so on.

 

“Dear Lupin…: Letters to a Wayward Son” by Charlie and Roger Mortimer— Father and Son

 

dear lupin

Mortimer, Charlie and Roger. “Dear Lupin…: Letters to a Wayward Son”, Thomas Dunne Books, 2013.

Father and Son

Amos Lassen

Roger Mortimer and Charlie Mortimer shared a wonderful correspondence that began when Charlie began studying at Eton after Roger learns that school is not his son’s first priority. When Charlie graduated and began to travel, he and father continued writing with Roger offering fatherly advice and news of the family. The letters were filled with humor and warmth and the two men seemed to be more like best friends rather than father and son and we are there as their relationship develops through the mail. Of course, we get the idea that Roger was trying to influence his son and guide him in the correct direction.

Roger’s letters are sometimes and sometimes resigned but always filled with humor, wisdom and emotion. We see the wonderful way the two men get along. Above all we see a father’s love for his son especially since we live in an era when letter writing is a vanishing art form. Not only do the letters capture the father/son relationship but they all provide a look at English society of the 1960s and 1970s.

Charlie has said that this book is a tribute to his father. Roger’s optimism in the most unpromising of circumstances will stay with you long after his last delightful letter is read.

We see Roger as he despairs for the destiny, or lack of it, of his wayward son and sense that it is unlikely that any of his advice will be heeded but he perseveres and gives it anyway. Roger’s intelligence is everywhere as is his support for his son even when he does not approve of something Charlie has done. All of us should hope that we can maintain the same kind of relationship with others.

 

“The Wedding Heard ’Round the World: America’s First Gay Marriage” by Michael McConnell and Jake Baker as told to Gail Langer Karowski— Historic Moments

the wedding

McConnell, Michael, Jack Baker as told to Gail Langer Karwoski. “The Wedding Heard ’Round the World: America’s First Gay Marriage”, University of Minnesota Press, 2016 .

Historic Moments

Amos Lassen

This has been quite a year for the LGBT community and we are and should be very proud. It was June 26, 2015 that marks the historic moment when the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. A whole new generation of LGBTIQ Americans will never have to worry like we did and there are those that believe that we have won our civil rights with this decision. However we cannot take anything for granted and that is why knowing our history is so important. simply take the legalization of same-sex marriages for granted; many LGBTIQ Americans already believe that their fight for civil rights ends with this ruling. This is why learning our history is so important. One way to look at that history is with this wonderful new book about Michael McConnell and Jack Baker who are the first known gay couple in the United States to apply for a marriage license. Their story is our story.

On September 3, 1971, Michael McConnell and Jack Baker exchanged vows in the first legal same-sex wedding in the United States. Here they tell their story for the first time and it is a fascinating account of the passion and energy that was the gay liberation movement in the sixties and seventies. To put this in proper perspective, it was a time that our movement was just beginning. In New York there was Stonewall and in San Francisco political activism came into its own. At the same Jack and Michael insisted on making their love for each other a legal reality. They already were activists—Jack had twice been elected the University of Minnesota’s student president—the first openly gay university student president in the country and his election was covered by Walter Cronkite on network TV news. They were featured in Look magazine’s special issue about the American family and received letters of support from around the world.

They were able to get through the complex procedures in order to obtain a state-issued marriage license. Their ceremony was conducted by a Methodist minister in a friend’s tiny Minneapolis apartment. They exchanged custom-designed rings and cut a wedding cake, Michael and Jack celebrated their historic marriage. After reciting their vows, they sealed their promise to love and honor each other with a kiss and a signed marriage certificate. Of course there were repercussions—Michael’s job offer at the University of Minnesota was rescinded, leading him to wage a battle against job discrimination with the help of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union. The couple eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court with two precedent-setting cases.  They are now retired from being in the public eye and they have forty happy years of marriage behind them. They now live in Minneapolis and are an example of a new American dream. they exemplify a contemporary version of the American dream. Because of all of the headlines about marriage equality and the decision of the Supreme Court, they have decided to tell their story and what they went through. “Time” magazine listed them among the twenty-five most influential marriages of all time and and they were recently profiled in a cover story in the Sunday “New York Times”. 

What we have learned from the fight for marriage equality is that to insist for human rights for all American citizens is a fight for acceptance of all who live in this world and are not free. Michael and Jack’s story is inspiring and because of their personas, we feel like we are reading the story of someone we know well. We learn what being gay was like once and how we lived gay lives.

Now in Minnesota that I am sure would love to claim them as their own, their story begins in Norman, Oklahoma where they met at a gay Halloween party on October 29, 1966. They became a couple without role models and I was surprised that already back then, Mike knew what kind of man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. He knew that he would marry the man of dreams long before any of us had ever heard of gay marriage. Michael was lucky enough to have parents his supported his life style while Jack was actually arrested at another gay party

and could have lost his job when the police contacted his employer who protected him. They had a good life in Oklahoma but Jack’s arrest drove them to activism. It was the Oklahoma police that turned them into activists because it showed “the pointless, hateful persecution of gay men by police and authorities”. Neither of them would ever give in to bullies and not to police.

However, after the arrest Baker who had received a honorable discharge from the Air Force was changed to general discharge. McConnell who was already a librarian, helped Baker research the rules and regulations behind these decisions but Baker decided it best to apply to law school in order to fight for LGBTIQ civil rights in the courts. He chose the University of Minnesota over the University of Oklahoma, as Minneapolis in 1969 was considered to be “liberal and progressive…with a lively gay community.” They moved to Minneapolis and it was there that they decided to marry and there our story of the legal battle for same-sex marriage in the United States begins. It took forty-three years before such committed relationships would be recognized in Minnesota but they were together and doing whatever they had to do in order to stay together. They have become role models in courage, love, and fidelity and they give us the inspiration to continue moving forward.