CAREER: Journalist. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta, GA, features editor until 1988; St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, FL, former reporter; New York Times, New York, NY, currently editorial writer.
AWARDS, HONORS: Finalist, New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, 2000, for Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America.
(Editor) The Prevailing South: Life and Politics in a Changing Culture, Longstreet Press (Atlanta, GA), 1988.
Homeless in America, Acropolis Books (New York, NY), 1988.
(With Adam Nagourney) Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY) 1999.
SIDELIGHTS: Dudley Clendinen, an editorialist for the New York Times, wrote Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America with Times reporter Adam Nagourney. He has also edited The Prevailing South: Life and Politics in a Changing Culture, a collection of sixteen essays on the past, present, and future of Southern politics and culture. The essays are written by Southern historians, novelists, and journalists.
Out for Good sprang from an article Clendinen wrote for the New York Times op-ed page during the 1992 presidential election campaign. A seven-year project, the book required researching press accounts and conducting more than seven hundred taped interviews. The resulting book is an account of the gay rights movement in the United States, beginning with the 1969 riot at Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, and ending with the founding of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in 1987. It focuses on many of the personalities who figure in the gay rights movement, which has long lacked cohesiveness.
Some reviewers argued that the book represents the most comprehensive work on the subject, given that the authors widen their focus beyond New York and San Francisco to include happenings in cities throughout the United States. Among the events reviewed are the campaign of Franklin Kameny, the first openly gay candidate for federal office in 1971, and Anita Bryant's opposition to a gay rights ordinance in Florida during the late 1970s.
While critics welcomed Out for Good as an expansion of the literature on the gay rights movement, some suggested areas that remained to be explored. According to New York Times writer Stephen O. Murray, for example, Out for Good "vividly reports the activism and intramural conflicts of the 1970's gay and lesbian movement," but does not fulfill its aim of being a larger history. Lambda Book Report critic Bob Summer viewed the book as an "obviously painstaking collaboration," but advised readers that the "chronologically episodic assemblage is far from the whole saga of the gay political movement's 'struggle,'" due to the fact that its focus does not extend past the late 1980s.
Questions about the book's perspective were raised by Nation reviewer Martin Duberman, who called the work a "vivid but determinedly untheoretical history." Duberman suggested that "the lack of sympathy for radical politics and analysis in Out for Good is subtle but pervasive," adding that inadequate attention is paid to race, lesbians, and being gay in non-urban areas. At the same time, the critic added, "What this ambitious volume does do, it does exceedingly well. . . . Clendinen and Nagourney . . . capture the essential, quirky characteristics of a remarkable set of characters. I may quarrel with their assorted anointments and omissions, but I admire the shrewdness with which they've constructed their narrative and the crisp, lean prose in which they've conveyed it."
The difficulty of shaping a comprehensive history was often noted. As Brad Hooper commented in Booklist, while Out for Good "is a big, long, epic narrative" the authors "sensibly bring it down to human proportions by focusing on individuals' tales of participation." In a review for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Shane Harrison admired how "the authors never allow the many disparate threads of the story to become tangled into outright incomprehensibility." Harrison concluded that the work serves as "an invaluable document, impressively researched, remarkably well-written and groundbreaking in its scope."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 13, 1999, Shane Harrison, review of Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, p. L13.
Booklist, June 1, 1999, Brad Hooper, review of Out for Good, p. 1782.
Journal of Southern History, August, 1990, A. Cash Koeniger, review of The Prevailing South: Life and Politics in a Changing Culture, p. 568.
Lambda Book Report, July-August, 1999, Bob Summer, review of Out for Good, p. 29.
Library Journal, June 15, 1999, E. James Van Buskirk, review of Out for Good, p. 94.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 23, 1988, review of The Prevailing South, p. 4.
Mississippi Quarterly, fall, 1990, Albert J. Devlin, review of The Prevailing South, pp. 555-557.
Nation, June 14, 1999, Martin Duberman, "Uncloseted History," p. 51.
New York Times, September 25, 1988, Andrea Stevens, review of Homeless in America, p. 30; July 5, 1999, Stephen O. Murray, review of Out for Good, p. E13.
Publishers Weekly, April 12, 1999, review of Out for Good, p. 60.
Social Forces, June, 1990, review of The Prevailing South, p. 1368.
365Gay.com,http://www.365gay.com/ (November 24, 2001), review of Out for Good.
Independent Gay Forum Online,http://www.indegayforum.org/ (November 24, 2001), Stephen O. Murray, "Tracing the Rise of the Gay Movement."
Paula Gordon Show Web site, http://paulagordon.com/show/clendinen/ (November 3, 2004), "Honestly Out."
Public Broadcasting Service Web site,http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ (November 24, 2001), News Hour transcript, David Gergen, review of Out for Good.*