The Path to Gay Rights

June 28, 1969 marked the beginning of the Stonewall Riots—how far have we come in 51 years?

The path to gay rights : how activism and coming out changed public opinion

Garretson, Jeremiah J. New York University, 2018
297p index, 9781479822133 $99.00, 9781479850075 $35.00, 9781479824236

It has become a commonplace that one of the biggest social changes in the past 50 years has been the shift in attitude toward LGBT people and their rights. The questions that interest social scientists are how and why? Garretson (California State East Bay) has questions and explanations. Using social surveys to document the shift, he argues that the most important factor is the “tireless work of LGBT activists especially during the AIDS crisis.” As much as anything else, the crisis led to large exposure further leading to mass coming out. Garretson makes a significant contribution in his theory of affective liberalization, which is, in effect, a theory of how exposure in coming out changes support for LGBT rights. The theory, he argues in his conclusion, can be applied to other aspects of social change, perhaps with limited results. That remains to be seen. Quantitative data backs up the arguments of this serious social science book. It makes a significant contribution to the political science literature on LGBT studies by synthesizing and advancing the empirical arguments on the shift in opinion on gay rights in just a few generations.

Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
D. S. Azzolina, University of Pennsylvania
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Political Science – U.S. Politics
Choice Issue: Nov 2018