Narratives of the LGBT past have been constrained by exceptionalist narratives of Stonewall, the 1960s, and ACT UP. These narratives describe gay and lesbian radicalism as disappearing soon after 1969 and obscure the genealogies that fostered AIDS activism. The history of the gay and lesbian left counters these narratives, showing that across the 1970s and 1980s, radicals pursued an interconnected politics in which sexual liberation was the theory and radical solidarity the practice. Gay and lesbian leftists drew anti-imperialism from Black radicalism and the anti-war movement, engaged socialist and women of color feminisms, and redefined queer community by tying it to Central American solidarity. By the end of the Cold War these influences proved central to direct action against AIDS.
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