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Unrequited Love

Diary of an Accidental Activist

By Dennis Altman

$29.95

Dennis Altman first travelled from Australia to the United States when Lyndon Johnson was President, beginning a long obsession with the US. In the early 1970s he was involved in New York Gay Liberation; his 1971 study Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation, is widely regarded as a classic work in its field. In the 1980s Altman lived in San Francisco during the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Later he sat on the Australian National Council on AIDS and international organisations including, as president, the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific.

The election of Donald Trump took place while Altman was back in California on one of his frequent visits. In this diarised memoir, moving between Australia, the United States, Europe and parts of Asia, Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Christopher Isherwood and many others people a story of a half century of activism, intellectualism, friendship and conflict.

Excerpt (from introduction):

I spent three days in the Castro, perhaps the best known of all the ‘gay ghettoes’ that developed since the 1979s in most western cities. San Francisco is changing rapidly as real estate prices force older tenants from their homes and new apartment blocks replace old terraces, but somehow the Castro remains remarkably similar to the area where Harvey Milk mobilised support forty years ago to become one of the first openly gay elected politicians in the United States.

Harvey was shot, along with Mayor George Moscone, in 1978, and San Francisco and much of the Castro feels as if not much has changed since he worked the streets to build a gay political machine. Where his camera shop stood there is now a manicure salon, next to the storefront of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, so that if one skews one’s view it becomes possible to read their adjoining signs as: “Hand Jobs are a Human Right”, as indeed they are. Some of the bars and restaurants which date back to the early 1970s are still there, though the menus have changed, and the street remains dominated by the splendid Castro theatre, built in the 1920s as a mixture of deco and baroque influences.’

About the Author

Dennis Altman, a Professorial Fellow in Human Security at La Trobe University, has published thirteen books, most recently The End of the Homosexual? and (with Jon Symons) Queer Wars. In 2006, The Bulletin listed Dennis Altman as one of the 100 most influential Australians ever, and he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2008.

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