David Mixner, whom Newsweek has called "the most powerful gay man in America," has been an activist and a political strategist for the past three decades and is the author of the highly praised memoir Stranger Among Friends.
Dennis Bailey, an actor and a playwright, is at work on his
Mixner, gay activist, political adviser and author of Stranger Among Friends, and playwright Bailey present short biographies of gay and lesbian people who have also been politically active in the struggle for gay rights. The biographies run approximately 50 pages each and cover personal background, the individual's coming-out process, and his or her political activities. Mixner's subjects include early lesbian activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, former Massachusetts state representative Elaine Noble, actor Ian McKellen, former Clinton administration member Roberta Achtenberg, former navy pilot Tracy Thorne, and hate crime legislation activist Dianne Hardy-Garcia. Each biography provides interesting reading, and since his subjects cover about a 40-year time span, their stories suggest how gay and lesbian struggles have changed through the years, from having to flee police raids of gay bars to demonstrating publicly for hate crime legislation. Recommended for public libraries.-Debra Moore, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles
"These "compelling narratives of courage and tenacity, of ample inspiration and commemoration are testimony to the power of courage to force change against overwhelming odds". Publishers Weekly
Taking their cue from John F. Kennedy's 1956 Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage, and such spinoffs as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Alan Steinberg's Black Profiles in Courage, Mixner (Stranger Among Friends) and Bailey detail the lives, careers and accomplishments of seven gay and lesbian freedom fighters. Lovers Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon founded Daughters of Bilitis, a club that began as an anonymous meeting place for lesbians in San Francisco in 1955 (a harrowing time for homosexuals, when exposure often meant the loss of one's job and/or children) and blossomed into a force for gay rights. Sir Ian McKellen is an accomplished actor and gay rights activist. Elaine Noble, a former state representative of Massachusetts, was the first openly gay person elected to state office in the U.S., in 1975. Roberta Actenberg, an activist lawyer, cofounded the gay Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom and was later appointed by President Clinton as assistant secretary of housing and urban development in 1993. Model serviceman Lt. Tracy Thorne was dismissed from the navy after declaring he was gay on prime-time news in 1992. Dianne Hardy-Garcia, a grassroots gay organizer from Dallas, is executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. Though their intent is obviously hagiography, Mixner and Bailey avoid maudlin sentimentality. If the authors occasionally indulge in feel-good overstatements ("thanks to Elaine Noble's pioneering efforts, diversity reigns on the American political landscape"), they also provide compelling narratives of courage and tenacity, of ample inspiration and commemoration. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.