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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Political activism focused on sexual diversity was first publicly visible at the turn into the twentieth century, mostly in Germany but extending to other large cities in Europe. A second activist wave emerged in the late 1940s, this time in the United States as well as Europe. Movement formation was still based on subcultures more likely in socioeconomic contexts such as those, where men and women were able to live separately from the families and communities in which they were reared. A third wave exploded more dramatically at the very end of the 1960s, this time in a broader range of countries (including Latin America). From that time into the 1980s, activist groups included radical challenges to existing institutional systems, alongside demands for legal rights. As social movement organizing spread, it was shaped by regional contexts but also marked by important cross-country similarities, in part a result of commonalities in the oppressiveness that sexual minorities experienced. In all settings, there have been differences over goals and strategy, as well as concerns about the underrepresentation of women and ethnoracial minorities in movement leadership and priorities. Internal conflict was a recurrent result, though homophobic mobilization by religious conservatives usually forged a degree of unity on the need to resist, blurring boundaries between radicalism and reform. In the process, activists were laying the groundwork for political gains in later decades, even in the face of the AIDS epidemic and a religious right itself more linked than ever in transnational networks.

Keywords: gay liberation, lesbian feminism, LGBT activism, LGBT rights, religious right, social movement

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