History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Media - Books

Coming Out, Moving Forward:
Wisconsin's Recent Gay History
Year published:



R. Richard Wagner


In mid-2020, Madison LGBT activist and author R. Richard Wagner followed up on his earlier book, "We've Been Here All Along", with "Coming Out, Moving Forward: Wisconsin's Recent Gay History", the second volume in his work on gay history in Wisconsin. This revealing book outlines the challenges that LGBT Wisconsinites faced in their efforts to right past oppression and secure equality in the post-Stonewall period between 1969 and 2000. During this era, Wisconsin made history as the first state to enact a gay rights law prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. It also became the first state to elect three openly gay/lesbian persons to Congress.

In this second volume, Wagner draws on historical research and materials from his extensive personal archive to not only chronicle an important movement, but also to tell the stories of the state’s LGBT pioneers—from legislators and elected officials to activists, businesspeople, and everyday citizens. The book documents the rich history of Wisconsin’s LGBT individuals and communities as they pushed back against injustice and found ways to live openly and proudly as themselves.

As with Wagner's first book, this book was published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

The webmaster of this site has found this second volume especially fascinating. It includes many comprehensive histories and delves into areas and analyses which I have only begun to touch on within this website. This book is highly recommended for anyone wanting to delve into the nuances of Wisconsin's LGBT history. (And as Dick Wagner says in his Acknowledgements in the second volume, thanks to the Wisconsin Historical Society staff and the Wisconsin Historical Society Press for opening themselves to LGBT history as part of the Wisconsin story!)

Sadly, R. Richard Wagner passed away in 2021, so if he had another book in mind, it will not come to pass. His two books however are an invaluable resource documenting critical parts of Wisconsin's LGBTQ development and history.



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Credits: All cover images and text copyrighted by the author and publisher;
Web site concept, design and format by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: June-2022.

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