FINALIST FOR THE 2021 PULITZER PRIZE IN HISTORY. INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER.
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Winner of the 2021 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction. One of The Washington Post‘s Top 50 Nonfiction Books of 2020.
From a young Harvard- and Cambridge-trained historian, the secret history of the fight for gay rights that began a generation before Stonewall.
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.