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Radical Relations: Lesbian Mothers, Gay Fathers, and Their Children in the United States Since World War II

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In Radical Relations, Daniel Winunwe Rivers offers a previously untold story of the American family: the first history of lesbian and gay parents and their children in the United States. Beginning in the postwar era, a period marked by both intense repression and dynamic change for lesbians and gay men, Rivers argues that by forging new kinds of family and childrearing rel In Radical Relations, Daniel Winunwe Rivers offers a previously untold story of the American family: the first history of lesbian and gay parents and their children in the United States. Beginning in the postwar era, a period marked by both intense repression and dynamic change for lesbians and gay men, Rivers argues that by forging new kinds of family and childrearing relations, gay and lesbian parents have successfully challenged legal and cultural definitions of family as heterosexual. These efforts have paved the way for the contemporary focus on family and domestic rights in lesbian and gay political movements.


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In Radical Relations, Daniel Winunwe Rivers offers a previously untold story of the American family: the first history of lesbian and gay parents and their children in the United States. Beginning in the postwar era, a period marked by both intense repression and dynamic change for lesbians and gay men, Rivers argues that by forging new kinds of family and childrearing rel In Radical Relations, Daniel Winunwe Rivers offers a previously untold story of the American family: the first history of lesbian and gay parents and their children in the United States. Beginning in the postwar era, a period marked by both intense repression and dynamic change for lesbians and gay men, Rivers argues that by forging new kinds of family and childrearing relations, gay and lesbian parents have successfully challenged legal and cultural definitions of family as heterosexual. These efforts have paved the way for the contemporary focus on family and domestic rights in lesbian and gay political movements.

30 review for Radical Relations: Lesbian Mothers, Gay Fathers, and Their Children in the United States Since World War II

  1. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Daniel Rivers was one of my favorite college professors so I was really excited to read this book! In particular the information about lesbian feminist family politics was really interesting to me. I couldn't help but feel that each chapter of the book was so tantalizing that I wanted more info- a whole book even! But this was a great condensed history of LG family politics and creation during the second half of the last century. Daniel Rivers was one of my favorite college professors so I was really excited to read this book! In particular the information about lesbian feminist family politics was really interesting to me. I couldn't help but feel that each chapter of the book was so tantalizing that I wanted more info- a whole book even! But this was a great condensed history of LG family politics and creation during the second half of the last century.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    In 'Radical Relations', Daniel Rivers traces a sixty year history of queer families which refutes and debunks the image of gay and lesbian couples as being incapable or dangerous parents. Beginning with a discussion of the double lives lived by gay and lesbian parents in the 50s, Rivers then moves into an analysis of gay liberation and lesbian feminism/separatism in the 60s, focusing especially on the issue of custody cases where orientation was the basis of the suit. Following this, he provides In 'Radical Relations', Daniel Rivers traces a sixty year history of queer families which refutes and debunks the image of gay and lesbian couples as being incapable or dangerous parents. Beginning with a discussion of the double lives lived by gay and lesbian parents in the 50s, Rivers then moves into an analysis of gay liberation and lesbian feminism/separatism in the 60s, focusing especially on the issue of custody cases where orientation was the basis of the suit. Following this, he provides separate accounts of lesbian-mother and gay-father groups in the 70s, which were separated by both gender and types of discrimination. Finally, he moves into a discussion of the shift from radical politics into the integrationist platform of domestic partnership, marriage equality, and the complications which arise when 'divorced' non-married same-sex couples sue for custody of biological and nonbiological children. Rivers' work provides a clear analysis of the emergence of LGBT families in the US since the 1940s, paying homage to a lineage of brave parents who would not let their Radical Relations be quashed by the homophobia and patriarchy of the American social and legal spheres.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Corleto-Bales

    The next time some dimwitted Evangelical is complaining about being "oppressed" you might direct them to this book, which details decades of actual oppression of LGBQT parents, people losing their jobs, children and sometimes freedom, (it was illegal to even read a book with homosexuality mentioned in it in some states). Society has far to go until we reach full equality for all, but obvious progress has been made. The next time some dimwitted Evangelical is complaining about being "oppressed" you might direct them to this book, which details decades of actual oppression of LGBQT parents, people losing their jobs, children and sometimes freedom, (it was illegal to even read a book with homosexuality mentioned in it in some states). Society has far to go until we reach full equality for all, but obvious progress has been made.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Byron Edgington

    Here we have a definitive rendering of the struggle toward parenthood when the prospective parent’s sexual/gender identity threatens America’s social norms. Disclosure: As a straight, white, American male who attained adulthood in the middle nineteen-fifties, and parenthood in the seventies, this reviewer is in many ways unqualified to elucidate this book. That said, I encourage anyone and everyone with an interest in current LGBTQ rights, particularly the way those issues attend to the idea of Here we have a definitive rendering of the struggle toward parenthood when the prospective parent’s sexual/gender identity threatens America’s social norms. Disclosure: As a straight, white, American male who attained adulthood in the middle nineteen-fifties, and parenthood in the seventies, this reviewer is in many ways unqualified to elucidate this book. That said, I encourage anyone and everyone with an interest in current LGBTQ rights, particularly the way those issues attend to the idea of parenthood, to read Radical Relations cover to cover. Take notes. Read it again. Daniel Rivers has written the seminal text of this struggle, the long, tortuous, complicated, heartrending (and unfinished) path to parenthood that our LGTBQ friends and neighbors have endured. From the earliest days of the LGBTQ rights movement, and even before that struggle became public knowledge, lesbians and gays yearned to be parents. That simple fact flew in the face of American, Ozzie & Harriet, hetero-normative cultural bias, of course, thus those parental arrangements were ignored, dismissed, dismantled by court order and marginalized routinely. Rivers’ book addresses what Adrienne Rich labels the “compulsory heterosexuality” of the American family. Carol Morton, Linda Lunden, Don Mager, Bonita Jeffries, Norma Jean Coleman, Mary Jo Risher, Jeanne Jullion, all these people have one thing in common with straights in America: they yearned to be parents. Indeed, this book is nothing if not a story of real people with real families struggling to get along in a society that systematically threatened to break them apart. It relates the heartbreaking story of bullied children of LGBTQ parents, the fear of coming out when a loss of one’s child is not a possibility but a certainty, the legal challenges to adoption, IVF, custody, childcare discrimination and such prosaic items as depictions in school texts that our hetero-normative society takes for granted. Similar to the reaction during the AIDS crisis, the LGBTQ communities response to the ‘parenthood crisis’ forced people to take charge of their own destiny, and to challenge the system by organizing: Dykes & Tykes, Daughters of Bilitis, many gay fathers’ & mothers’ groups formed across the nation to band together against discrimination. Laws were challenged. In the Bowers Vs Hardwick case, sodomy laws were upheld, laws that took custody of children away from men and women. Lawrence Vs Texas removed this onerous legal ruling, but lesbians and gays continued to lose their children for one specious reason or another. Divorcing LGBTQ people routinely lost their kids because judges ruled them unfit. The determined and politically astute leadership of the LGBTQ community found ways to break down legal constraints against parenthood, and met with much success. Donna Hitchens developed ‘The Lesbian Mother Litigation Manual.’ Once this organization became widespread and strong, cases began to be settled out court. Rhonda Rivera, law professor at Ohio State said in 1981 that ‘more (cases) probably were negotiated…’ The tide began to turn. What seems to have propelled the struggle onward is the inevitability of civil marriage equality. Rivers’ book focuses on past struggles to address the assumption of straight-only parenthood, with so called gay marriage a peripheral theme. But he infers that equality for all in civil marriage will be the final arbiter of a long and colorful fight our LGBTQ friends have waged to call themselves parents. Much more than a simple, linear depiction of one marginalized group’s fight to be seen and heard in American society, Radical Relations tells many stories, just like all families do. The history of the LGBTQ community is a story of the joy of parenthood, a history of the children of those families and an important insight to LGBTQ history itself. Byron Edgington, author of The Sky Behind Me: A Memoir of Flying & Life

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

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    Alli Gill

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    Marty Deetz

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    Billy

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    meaghan

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  24. 5 out of 5

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    Travis Zuber

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    Amanda Lancaster

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    Kate

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    enoughtohold

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    Joyce

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    Laura

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