The book concludes by drawing upon Emile Durkheim’s venerable notion that a society’s “deviants” are often highly valuable to that same society’s conformists, helping the conformists define themselves, if only in a negative, fearful way, as the alleged opposite of the deviants, with bigotry not only afflicting its targets but, in a different way, burdening its holders too. Once gay liberation began taking hold late in the twentieth century, this book concludes, there were various beneficiaries. Gay Americans were, of course, hugely better off once the laws that had punished them and the customs that had inhibited them began to come to an end, and once new rights such as same-sex marriage and service in the military were established. Additionally and of considerable significance, though, is the way in which the lessening of homophobia was better for both targets and holders of hatred. As gay men and lesbians acquired more cultural guidelines, acquiring increasingly more “maps” through which to directly and affirmatively define themselves, a better day dawned for all of American society late in the twentieth century--even though shortly before that dawn had been an especially challenging time for this book’s subjects, men who were comparatively without maps.
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