By Doug Ireland
The Politics of Exclusion
One would be hard-pressed to name a more admirable contemporary American example of the intellectual engage than Martin Duberman. Historian, playwright, memoirist, biographer, social commentator, teacher, activist and assured podium performer, Duberman is an unapologetic, uncategorizable and nonsectarian radical whose constant questioning of conventional wisdoms - even on the left - has made him one of this country's pre-eminent participants in the political and cultural wars that have riven public life.
The prolific Duberman has written or edited some 35 books, and yet has still found time to churn out a remarkably wide-ranging series of occasional pieces that embody much of the passion and action of our time, some of which he has assembled in his new volume Left Out. They reflect his convictions about "the baleful influence of corporate culture, the iniquity of many aspects of American foreign policy, the tenacity of white racism, the nonpathological nature of same gender desire, the crippling falsity of the traditional male/female binary."
Duberman has been unshakably on the left for all of his adult life, and out of the closet as a gay male for the better part of it. Having survived the tortures of anti-gay psychotherapists (movingly recounted in his 1991 memoir, Cures: A Gay Man's Odyssey), Duberman was the first important intellectual to embrace the gay liberation movement that was born in the wake of the 1969 Stonewall riots. In the early '70s, Duberman was one of the moving spirits behind the founding of both the Gay Academic Union and of what is now the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force - and even then he was raising remarkably prescient questions that disturbed and provoked more staid same-sexers and single-issue separatists.
Doug Ireland is a contributing editor of In These Times.