Community Pioneers

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Abstract

Reviews the book, Contacts Desired: Gay and Lesbian Communications and Community, 1940s-1970s by Martin Meeker (see record 2006-09853-000). In this book, Meeker articulates the development of sexual communication networks, communities, and identities formed by U.S. “homosexuals” in the period from the 1940s to the 1970s. The concept of community is familiar to sexual minorities but difficult to define. Community as described in this book resembles Benedict Anderson's (1991) concept of imagined community, mostly lacking in face-to-face interaction among its members. It also overlaps with Edward Said's (1979) concept of imagined geographies, whereby community members hold an idea of shared affinity in their mind, irrespective of differences of class, ethnicity, and geographic location. Moreover, Meeker displays the overarching tension between the private and public spheres of communication being dealt with on an individual, group, and national level. The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 reviews homosexual activists and their desire to create stable and authoritative networks for communication. Part 2 analyzes the process of how mainstream media “discovered” homosexuality in late 1950s and early 1960s. Part 3 focuses on the development of a do-it-yourself commercial and activist ethic among homosexual men and women, which resulted in a complex and extensive subcultural network in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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