Wednesday, March 29th, 2023

Book of interest: Martin Duberman’s “A Saving Remnant”

saving remnantMarch 10, 2011.

Allen Young just brought to my attention this review, by Doug Ireland on The Rag Blog, of Martin Duberman’s dual biography of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds, A Saving Remnant: Two Lives of Courage and Commitment.

From Allen Young:

Doug reviews Martin Duberman’s recently released A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds

Historian Duberman is known as the father of gay studies, and Deming and McReynolds are “two openly queer Americans who devoted their lives to the struggles for peace and social justice.” Ireland tells us that A Saving Remnant is “radiant with an emboldening and unquenchable humanity.”

Perhaps we should check it out?


About The Author


  1. Wayne Dynes

    I’m sorry, but Martin Duberman was not the “father of gay studies.” That started in Switzerland in 1836. For a full account see the seven chapters in my

  2. Billy Glover

    How about Dorr Legg? (Or does all the historic work done by ONE not count?) And of course this is America.

  3. Perry

    I am not sure about Martin Duberman being “the father of gay studies.” Perhaps Jonathan Ned Katz should be, after his groundbreaking (what an understatement! More like “groundshifting”) Gay American History [1976]. Katz had no degrees in history, etc. but produced one of the most formative books ever published in America. He actually brought the idea of “American History” and “Gay” together: just compare that twinning with the usual mindset of merely a decade earlier, circa 1966. However, Duberman is the father of bringing gay studies openly into an academic setting. He certainly did that with the creation of CLAGS at CUNY.

  4. Wayne Dynes

    I’m sorry, Perry, but your view is both ethnocentric and present-minded. The first two university departments of gay studies (homostudies) appeared in the Netherlands in 1978, long before CLAGS got started. As I show at, gay studies had a huge history before that. Even in the US, a late-comer to this endeavor, there was ONE Incorporated, Legg’s group, and Donald Webster Cory (despite the latter’s later reactionary views as Edward Sagarin). For a short and accurate version of the history, see Lauritsen and Thorstad, The Early Homosexual Rights Movement.

  5. Billy Glover

    Once again, I object to your use of the term “Legg’s group.” ONE was NOT Legg’s group, it was from the start a corporation, and Don Slater was equally important, and in fact even though from the start they envisioned the ideas from Mattachine meetings, about education, research, social service, etc, the MAIN effort for the first years was the magazine. And the work was equal (Dorr’s education and Don’s magazine) at the time I became a staff member, until the separation in 1965. The cause of the split was not just me but Dorr’s effort’s to take the ISHR money we were getting to ONLY push the Institute and (ugh) Quarterly at the “expense” of the magazine and thus kill the only true outreach ONE was doing-the education was local.

  6. Allen Young

    Dear Billy, Wayne and others, It’s fascinating but also a little sad to see this endurance of such hard feelings over the One, Inc., conflict that took place decades ago, or over who deserves the title of “father of gay studies.” I was involved in a very contentious “split” at Liberation News Service (LNS) in the late 1960s, but fortunately, with the passage of time, I am able to avoid 99% of bad feelings and relax about the whole thing, even though recently some young historians have written quite accurately and interestingly about it. Lighten up, folks. Life is short.

  7. Billy Glover

    I agree with you. I just want the record to be clear. That is why I said Dorr deserved credit for education. And Don for the magazine. And Jim Kepner for pushing the library, even though he was not there when I was, and so Don also did that part of ONE.Only those interested in the movement history should be concerned with the disagreements and who had what priority. Most young people don’t need or want this in-depth coverage.

  8. David McReynolds

    I’m with you Allen. All credit to those who stood up, and I don’t much care when they stood up. Theseexchanges are very much like watching the worst aspect of the gay community “in action”.All power to moving ahead from where we are, building on the risks others took earlier, whenever andwherever.And life is far too short.

  9. Wayne Dynes

    Merle Miller, who died in 1986, was a gay biographer, novelist, and media figure. He was gay all his life, but for most of it he remained in the closet. in his later years he regretted this camouflage. He said that he often gave money to worthy causes. When he was asked to give to gay causes, though, he summoned his best radio voice to say NO! Later he regretted this stance, challenging in particular that leftist windbag Victor Navasky, a homophobe.Times have changed very rapidly, and today it is hard to imagine the penalties once so vigorously assessed for coming out a gay spokesperson. It usually meant lifelong poverty–even obloquy. In my case, I just lost my job at an Ivy League university. I was lucky.While I do not fully share Billy’s admiration for Don Slater, he was one of the ones who spoke out. He gladly bore the economic burden that that entailed. Attention must be paid.It mattered very much WHEN one intervened. We all owe a tremendous debt to early intervenors. That is why chronology and history are important. It isn’t just a matter of faring forward. We need to know why we are where we are.

  10. John O'Brien

    I have to agree with Wayne Dynes to much extent, except for his usual Left bashing, that Gay/Lesbian studies existed long before the very recent efforts of Martin Duberman and even Jonathan Katz, who I was thrilled when reading his groundbreaking work: Gay American History and the many fine wonderful works that have since followed.The earlier efforts in Europe, Brazil and elsewhere, are documented, if one wants to search and learn such efforts. There are also new ones being excitedly discovered, that add much to our proud history.There were a number of people that stand out in America, who did pioneering work for Gay Studies, such as John Addington Symmonds, Harry Hay and James Kepner and the list goes on. There were other earlier pioneers, such as Edgar Leoni who published pamphlets and books that identified (proudly) Gays and Lesbians around the world going back to earliest known records.It was Jim Kepner who was central in the early ONE group promoting Gay libraries, collecting Gay history and encouraging research. While Dorr Legg was interested in Gay studies and classes, he did not start the ONE library, it was Jim Kepner who promoted the first Gay library/archives in the United States, which after Jim split from Dorr Legg’s group, then founded his collections as the Western Gay Archives, which later went through several name changes to today be at USC (no longer under Gay control – sadly). Jim Kepner gave a course at a Los Angeles college on Gay studies, before Dubermen and Katz wrote their writings. And this is not meant to counter Kepner to Dubermand and Katz, who also share in helping to educate and provide information that counters the lies of the religious fundamentalists enemies and other non-religious bigots.Harry Hay who founded the Mattachine group, was also a much earlier pioneer. Harry was an avid reader and searched for early evidence of Gay people and their contributions and uniquenesses and similarities. Harry Hay would later in ONE promote Gay studies and classes and was the person who discovered the Hammond Report, which he shared in a ONE pamphlet, that was done in the 19th Century by the U.S. military on the Berdache native peoples. In a way the Hammond Report is Gay Studies – but so were other individuals less known, who took it on their own to try and substantiate that Gays and Lesbians were natural and a people and existed throughout all known periods of time. Harry Hay and Jim Kepner were both admirers of Edward Carpenter, Magnus Hirshfeld and many other earlier pioneers who wrote on Gay studies.The political movement for Gay and Lesbian rights and by those promoting Gay identity and Culture – was NOT begun by Don Slater. Don Slater after stealing the ONE library and turning against the Gay/Lesbian Movement in public letters in the LA Times denouncing those trying to hold Pride Parades as threatening individual privacy, was some weird Slater argument that he spent the rest of his life isolated and trying to promote instead, as a counter to the successes of an open proud Gay/Lesbian rights movement. Ironically Billy Glover was one of the very few who stood by Slater through the robeery and remained a supporter until even this day, when it is obvious Slater’s views at best to be said as outdated and for those like me were just seriously and dnagerously wrong. At least Dorr Legg did not oppose the Pride Parades like Don Slater, even if in Dorr’s own conservatism like Slater, wanted to support reactionary politicians in office, instead of reformers and rebels.

  11. John O'Brien

    But the importantce of the ONE Inc group – in promoting self improvement and empowerment, as a way to acheive lasting rights and improvements for Gays and Lesbians, can not be overstated by myself – as being an important contribution and model, as part of our liberation struggle. We all have benefitted from the ONE pioneers, even those like Slater who then strayed to become opponents of reform and much of our rights movement later in his life. But Harry Hay, Jim Kepner and fortunately many others, always stayed the course and supported the movement and the advances made for our people – and underestood the connections to other oppressed groups, which is still not accepted by the more conservative elements today, who are only interested in wealthy Gays and Lesbians and of winning favor from wealthy heteros.Both Harry Hay and Jim Kepner would support our Gay brother pfc Manning today, who currently is in Quantico Virginia prison being brutalized and threatened with life imprisonment for sharing the truth about U. S. foreign policy. Harry Hay and Jim Kepner cared about all those Gays and Lesbians in prisons, and in poverty around the world. Sadly some in our community as David McReynolds notes, do not care about their fellow poorer and less empowered people – and think that a strong community from below is not needed, but justtolerance from above, is what is required to meet their needs (and not care about us all as a community). We hear much about the A Gays, but nothing about ending the horrible injustice in our prisons, poor schools and retirement homes. I mention this becuase there is an element who profess to Gay studies, who only care about promoting the wealthy rulers who were Gay or Lesbian and are not interested in making available the many rebels throughout time who also were Gay and Lesbian and come from the ranks of the laboring poor. For them they want to take the red out of the red white and blue in this nation and ignore the history of how all struggles for change, are interlocked and connected.

  12. Billy Glover

    You seem to think Don, and I, would not like your description of him. Your repeated accusation of him as a person who stole ONE’s material is of course nonsense, and you and all the others then and now at ONE Institute have absolutely no knowlege of the facts, even ignoring the obvious fact, the legal settlement. You underestimate Dorr if you think he could have done something legally to get the material back and didn’t. And you overestimate Jim Kepner, who quit ONE for the very reasons Don separated the organization. Jim took Dorr’s part, wrongly telling others that Don would give up fast and Dorr would win. Don never lost, morally or legally.You also keep claiming that you “saved” ONE’s material. That also is nonsense. I personally, with Jim Schneider etc started saving the material and getting it ready for storage. But I also first sat down in the upstairs rooms where most of the books were and gave Vern Bullough second copies of all the books to start putting them in the Cal State Northridge library where most of the material is now.

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