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Book Talk: The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America
Eric Cervini in conversation with Robert Fiesler
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.
Dr. Eric Cervini is an award-winning historian of LGBTQ+ politics and culture. His first book on queer history, The Deviant's War, was a New York Times Best Seller and Editors’ Choice. It was nominated for the Publishing Triangle’s Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction and voted the “Best Read of 2020” at the Queerties.
Robert W. Fieseler is the winner of the 2020 Columbia Journalism School First Decade Award, the 2019 NLGJA (National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association) Journalist of the Year and a debut nonfiction author. He currently lives with his husband and kittens in New Orleans. He graduated co-valedictorian from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship and the Lynton Fellowship in Book Writing.
Fieseler’s essays and feature stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and recognized in roundups of best nonfiction by The Atlantic. He writes about marginalized groups and overlooked people who make the world better for themselves. As such, his heroes tend to be exiles and outcasts seeking their own strange forms of freedom.
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