That's Charles Kaiser's description of the last 40 years in America. And it was forged in part by the sudden courage of one disgracefully forgotten writer, whose essay is now back in print (Dan Savage wrote the foreword):
If you were born after 1970, I think it is nearly impossible to imagine how it felt to open up The New York Times Magazine on a Sunday morning in January 1971 to discover "What it Means to be a Homosexual," a deeply personal and beautifully written piece in defense of homosexuality. Nothing like this had ever been printed in a newspaper like the Times before.
I was a junior at Columbia University in the City of New York when the novelist and journalist Merle Miller’s piece appeared, and I had undoubtedly purchased the Sunday Times at a newsstand on Saturday night. But I’m sure I didn’t share my fascination with his article with any of my classmates on Sunday morning.
I had been aware of my attraction to other boys throughout my teens, and even earlier, but I always assumed that I was going through "a stage"—because that is what you were taught to believe back then, to spare yourself the possibility that you might be afflicted by something that would condemn you to "permanent niggerdom among men," as Joseph Epstein so delicately put it in Harper’s, shortly before Miller wrote his rejoinder to Epstein’s piece.