Analysis of the Article The Silence Is Broken

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George Washington University
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Article review
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The Silence Is Broken: A History of the First Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Student Groups is an article by Brett Beemyn that looks at the rise of the earliest gay and lesbian student group in the united states in the late 1960s. In 1969, a small group of gays, lesbians and bisexuals came together to form an organization whose role was to fight for the rights of gays. Since most of them were then students of the Cornell University in New York, they decided to call their organization The Student Homophile Organization, abbreviated as SHL. It turned out to be the second such group since students from the Columbia University had created a similar organization the previous year.

According to Beemyn, the SHL set the stage for an uprising that was aimed at fights for the rights of LGBTs. It also laid the groundwork for the emergence of a militant organization. Students groups displayed a lot of pride in being gay; something that played a crucial role in attracting publicity for their case. At the time, there were many struggles going on, in particular the anti-war movement against the Vietnam War. By forming alliances with these groupings, the SHL managed to pass their message to, and get support from, non-gay people. In the article, Beemyn points out that the actions of these brave young men and women contributed to the decline of stigmatization against gay people, and the rights they enjoy today.

After reading the article, anyone would appreciate the struggle for gay rights not just in the United States but also in other parts of the world. Few or no attempts at all were made to form organizations advocating for gay and lesbian relations until after the Second World War. All in all, gay life was prevalent in urban settings such as Harlem and Greenwich Village in the course of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s. The outbreak of the way made it possible for gays and lesbians who had initially been isolated to mingle as servicemen and women hailing from small towns and posted to various parts of the world. In the early 1950s, US Senator Joseph McCarthy carried out investigations into gays holding public office jobs. This perceived discrimination together with greater awareness triggered the earliest political demand for homosexuals to be treated fairly in areas such as employment and public health.

In the mid 1960s, when new legislations banning racial discrimination were effects during the Civil Rights Movement, the earliest gay rights demonstrations occurred in Washington DC and Philadelphia. The turning point for liberation of gays occurred in the events mentioned in The Silence Is Broken: A History of the First Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Student Groups. Patrons of a popular pub located in the Greenwich Village known as the Stonewall Inn battled against raids by the police. This event is still revered up to today, and has been celebrated every year since the early 1970s.


Beemyn, Brett. "The silence is broken: A history of the first lesbian, gay, and bisexual college student groups." Journal of the History of Sexuality 12.2 (2003): 205-223.

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