Jamie Kirchick joins us to discuss the triumph and sorrow of the gay experience in the nation's capitol. This is the story of Secret City, Kirchick's genre-defining and panoramic history of the gay men and women who served in the halls of power, all the while in constant fear that they would lose their jobs and perhaps even their lives.
It got worse before it got better. We discuss how the national security state—born after World War II—both brought down immense suffering upon countless individuals (including in a string of shocking suicides), and helped shape the consciousness of the country as a whole. There was the red scare, but there was also the "pink scare," with fears of political perversion driving fears of sexual perversion and vice-versa. But was there progress in the end?
The Reagan Administration, despite its homophobia and failures to act on AIDS, could also claim perhaps the largest number of gay political appointees up until that point in U.S. history. And then the closet began to open, so much so that it is difficult to imagine just how horrific it was mere decades ago for gays serving in government. But is this really "progress"—and does it mean we should be optimistic about America's future, despite everything?
In Part 2, available here for subscribers, we dig deeper into just how lasting the triumphs of the gay rights movement will be. On one hand, homosexuality has become so normalized that no one (except radical gender activists) even thinks twice about Pete Buttigieg running for national office. On the other, the culture war over trans rights is taking a nasty turn, with room for dissent rapidly closing. We debate whether the LGBTQ+ community can stay united in victory, and whether Queer ideology is actually homophobic.