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Roosevelt House and the LGBTQ Policy Center at Hunter College present a live Zoom webinar on The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America, the new biography of Frank Kameny, the founder and intellectual father of the LGBTQ movement in America. The book's author, Eric Cervini, will be interviewed by three panelists: author, critic, and activist Michael Henry Adams; journalist June Thomas and Charles Kaiser, acting director of the Roosevelt House LGBTQ Policy Center at Hunter College.
Cervini's book is the first full-length biography of Kameny—a crucial figure, who was the first Federal employee to challenge his dismissal after the Army Map Service fired him for being gay in 1957. In his petition to the Supreme Court, Kameny called the government rules banning homosexuals from federal employment “a stench in the nostrils of decent people, an offense against morality, an abandonment of reason, an affront to human dignity, an improper restraint upon proper freedom and liberty, a disgrace to any civilized society and a violation of all that this nation stands for.” The Court rejected Kameny's petition. But this spring, 61 years later, the Court echoed Kameny's view in a landmark 6-3 decision, ruling that the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited job discrimination against LGBTQ persons. The panel will explore the lessons modern activists can learn from the work of the most successful gay activist of all time.
Eric Cervini graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates Scholar. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Harvard Gender and Sexuality Caucus and the Board of Advisors of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of gay American history.
Michael Henry Adams is an author, social and architectural historian and activist living in Harlem. A fine arts graduate of the University of Akron, Adams trained at Columbia University's graduate historic preservation program. His books include Harlem, Lost and Found: An Architectural and Social History, 1765-1915, and Style and Grace: African Americans at Home. He is at work on a new book, Homo Harlem, A Chronicle of Lesbian and Gay Life in the African American Cultural Capital, 1915-1995. Reviewing The Deviant's War in The Guardian, Adams said the author “takes the reader on an epic journey.”
June Thomas is a senior managing producer of Slate Podcasts and one of the hosts of Working, Slate's podcast about how creative people get their work done. She has been at Slate since 1997, serving as managing editor, foreign editor, culture critic and one of the founding editors of Outward, Slate's LGBTQ section. She has also written for Bloomberg Businessweek, The Advocate, Marie Claire and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn.
Charles Kaiser directs the Roosevelt House LGBTQ Policy Center at Hunter College. He is the author of three books: The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America; 1968 in America, and The Cost of Courage.
This event will be held online via Zoom.
Those who RSVP will receive a reminder to join shortly before the program begins.