In 1948, the United States Congress passed an act “for the treatment of sexual psychopaths.” That law combined with an executive order from President Eisenhower began a systematic and legal purge of gays and lesbians from government employment.
It is events like this that many people have forgotten—and it is also events like this that have been “erased from our history.” Preventing that erasure is one of many goals for teachers Deb Fowler and Miriam Morgenstern, the co-founders of History UnErased. ( HUE )...
Walt Whitman never publicly addressed his sexual orientation in his poems, essays or lectures. He lived from 1819 to 1892, a time when “gay” meant little more than “happy.”
Biographical materials, however, note he was involved for decades with a man named Peter Doyle. And in works like the “Calamus” poems in his “Leaves of Grass” collection, Whitman discusses romantic and sexual relationships between men.
Teachers sit at square tables in a college classroom here poring over primary and secondary sources about the civil rights icon Bayard Rustin. There’s his 1987 obituary in The New York Times, which avoids any mention of his sexual orientation. There are copies of FBI documents from the mid-20th century, which, in coded language, talk about his male companions.
There’s a piece about an interview with Rustin’s longtime partner, Walter Naegle, detailing how, in the absence of any other way to secure legal protection for their relationship in the 1970s, Rustin adopted him.