Lesbians and gay men reflect on their lives and their place in society from the 1940s to the turn of the century
Gateway to Heaven invites us to share the memories of some of those who were at the forefront of the struggle for lesbian and gay equality in the UK, as well as others who led more private lives. With contributions from forty-six individuals, this lively and moving book casts light on a neglected area of history.
Clare Summerskill first gathered these life stories while producing verbatim plays and films. They address central issues in British social and political history from the 1940s to the 1990s. This is a dramatic period for the lesbian and gay community. It begins in closets of fear – arrests and hidden basement bars – and emerges in courage with the first Pride marches and the repeal of anti-gay legislation. As the contributors aged, their candid memories and hard-won wisdom were at risk of going unrecorded, but in Gateway to Heaven they are captured for everyone, from students of social and oral history or queer studies to the general reader.
‘It’s been the longest journey, with many bumps and twists and turns in the road, and some painful catastrophes along the way. But the movement for LGBT rights over the past fifty years has been a triumph of hope and determination over adversity – and the success has been due not only to organisers and campaigners, vital as they have been, but to thousands of ordinary people affirming who and what they are, and want to be. This book provides a beautiful medley recording the many different voices in our history, and the bittersweet music of the human struggle for recognition and social justice.’ Jeffrey Weeks, author of The World We Have Won
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