Although homosexuality in its many manifestations has been a significant factor in societies throughout the ages and across cultures, the real explosion of its politics and visibility has taken place in the last 60 years and, arguably, most identifiably within the United States. This three-volume work traces that history and suggests its role in defining American culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. National Public Radio recently did a piece on the difficulties of terminology and interviewed an aging Greek man on the isle of Lesbos, who resented the fact that he and his sons met with stares when they declared themselves to be Lesbians and thus, we are first presented with the question of labels. This encyclopedia is an interdisciplinary record of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer life. This list of terms, in itself, honors a history of movements within the larger history: the once-generic term gay, used as a portmanteau for many different people, gradually revealed itself as inadequate—much as man as a generic term was recognized as privileging one half of the human race (why not woman as the generic noun, and she as the generic pronoun?). Thus, while gay is sometimes still used by many to refer to all non-heteronormative individuals, many of those supposedly covered by its mantle actually bristle with resentment. At the same time, some might have wished the inclusion of a second Q, for questioning, or an I, for intersex. Conversely, some see the inclusion of queer as obviating all the others. There is also a substantial part of the “gay” community that sees transgender people and transgender issues as no part of the gay community except as allies, because of the over-determined dis- tinction between sexual orientation and gender identity. This particular question has taken on a sharper focus, with the exclusion of transgendered people from the recently passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). What this ency- clopedia makes clear is that questions relating to terminology have not been settled (see Ward 2006), nor are they likely to be in our lifetimes. In such circumstances, inclusivity is the intelligent protocol that we have striven to follow. The emphasis throughout is on those individuals still living, though sufficient history is also included to provide the needed context for an understanding of our Preface
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