Finalist for 2021 History Book Pulitzer Prize
Activism reached beyond the haven of Cherry Grove, Fire Island. In 1957, Frank Kameny, a rising astronomer working for the U.S. Defense Department in Hawaii, received a summons to report immediately to Washington, D.C. The Pentagon had reason to believe he was a homosexual, and after a series of humiliating interviews, Kameny, like countless gay men and women before him, was promptly dismissed from his government job. Unlike many others, though, Kameny fought back.
Based on firsthand accounts, recently declassified FBI records, and forty thousand personal documents, Eric Cervini's The Deviant's War unfolds over the course of the 1960s, as the Mattachine Society of Washington, the group Kameny founded, became the first organization to protest the systematic persecution of gay federal employees. It traces the forgotten ties that bound gay rights to the Black Freedom Movement, the New Left, lesbian activism, and trans resistance. Above all, it is a story of America (and Washington) at a cultural and sexual crossroads; of shocking, byzantine public battles with Congress; of FBI informants; murder; betrayal; sex; love; and ultimately victory.
Safe/Haven: Gay Life in 1950s Cherry Grove at New-York Historical Society features a outdoor exhibition that explores the lesbian and gay community that flourished during the 1950s in Cherry Grove through some 70 enlarged photographs and additional ephemera from the unique holdings of the Cherry Grove Archives Collection. On view May 14 through Oct 11, 2021.