The Homosexual in America by Cory, Donald Webster - 1952


The Homosexual in America by Cory, Donald Webster - 1952


The Homosexual in America by Cory, Donald Webster

1952 Hardcover 3rd Printing with worn dust jacket, Published by Greenberg

“This book is an important little piece of civil rights history.
Written by Edward Sagarin (pen name Donald Webster Cory, 1913-1986), it is both a responsible sociological survey of gays and lesbians in the United States, and it also calls for GLBT people to be considered a minority group whose civil rights should be acknowledged.

Sagarin was (according to rumor) a closeted gay, who worked as a sociology professor at City University, New York. He was described as a dumpy, lonely, quiet man who was a brilliant professor but kept to himself.

When it came to light that the book was written under a pseudonym, Sagarin was widely criticized for being a coward, etc. However, I believe the rest of the story should be told.

There are several reasons Sagarin wrote under the pen name Cory: First, and most obviously, he probably feared violence or threats of violence. In the 1950's, there would have been no protection from police, there was no such thing as hate crimes investigations, no such thing as safe zones in college campuses, etc.

Second, Sagarin feared repercussions at his job. He had written many so-called "objective" studies about gay and lesbians and other minority groups, but this book crossed the line and actually called for activism. In the 1950's (and even today in some areas), if a professor was denied tenure or fired because of outspoken political beliefs, or because he was thought to be gay (or a gay sympathizer), he would have had very few options to sustain himself. Book royalties did not amount to much, and he was good at his job and obviously wanted to keep it.

And third, I believe Sagarin suffered from poor self-image/poor self-esteem. He was called "the Bell Tower Hunchback" by some of his colleagues, and even called Jekyll/Hyde by GLBT people who criticized him for using a pen name.

I think he was terrified of being a leader - he just wanted to do his part. I believe he considered himself unattractive, and was probably horrified at the idea of being in the newspaper or on TV. And, most importantly, I believe people shouldn't be held to some idealized, perfect standard ... but he should be understood as flawed human being who had goodness in his heart. He saw an injustice and tried to do something about it.

This is a great book with lots of history behind it. It's an empowering piece of literature with a tragic character behind the story. I'm surprised more people aren't familiar with it. “

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