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

We've Been Here All Along
Wisconsin's Early Gay History

Year published:



R. Richard Wagner


In 2019, Madison LGBT activist and author R. Richard Wagner published the book "We've Been Here All Along", the first of two groundbreaking books. This first volume provides an illuminating and nuanced picture of Wisconsin's early gay history from the reporting on the Oscar Wilde trials of 1895 to the landmark Stonewall Riots of 1969. Throughout these decades, gay Wisconsinites developed identities, created support networks, and found ways to thrive in their communities despite various forms of suppression--from the anti-vice crusades of the early twentieth century, to the post-war labeling of homosexuality as an illness, to the Lavender Scare of the 1950s.

The book was published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Wagner followed up on this book with another book in mid-2020. "Coming Out, Moving Forward: Wisconsin's Recent Gay History", which outlined 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.

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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Last updated: June-2022.

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