James Kirchick’s decade-in-the-making new book examines the queer people who have been demonised or erased in the making of America

LGBTQ+ people have always existed, although they have largely been erased from historical narratives and even forced to participate in their own erasure. This is true of American politics, where the 20th century saw numerous gay and lesbian individuals participating at the highest levels of power, yet almost wholly effaced from the telling of our nation’s history. In the new book Secret City, historian James Kirchick attempts to inscribe into the historical record the homosexual men and women who have served and contributed to their country in Washington DC, throughout the 20th century.

“I want to intertwine these two threads – the mainstream thread of history that we all read about, and this gay history that’s been sidelined and sequestered,” he said. “I wanted to bring them together to show they’re connected stories, that they interact and complement each other. It’s not overturning this established narrative, it’s adding to it and complicating it.”

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