Defeat Hidden by the Veneer of Victory: An Examination of the Gay Rights Movement 1900-2007
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This paper begins with an examination of the trial of Oscar Wilde and an overall analysis of the homosexual climate in the late nineteenth century in order to demonstrate the basis upon which the twentieth century gay rights movement rests. Once this basis has been established, we will undertake an explanation of the social constructionist theories of Berger and Luckmann, focusing specifically on the preconditions for the construction of a symbolic universe, the symbolic universe itself, the inherently problematic nature of the symbolic universe, the dominant authority structure and its relation to the symbolic universe, and finally, methods of universe maintenance. These concepts will then be applied in a systematic analysis of the paradigmatic shifts within the gay rights movement from 1900 to 2007, focusing on five main events. The events we will base our analysis on are World Wars I and II, The Golden Era of the 50s, the Stonewall Riot and the 70s, the AIDs Crisis, and finally, the push for Gay Marriage. Finally, the findings of the analysis will be extrapolated out to define the broader ramifications of the study undertaken by this essay.