The Book Club That Helped Spark the Gay-Rights Movement

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10/19/2021

In the late nineteen-thirties, Gonzálo Segura, known to his friends as Tony, enrolled at Emory University to study biochemistry. He graduated in 1942, and subsequently took a job at Foster D. Snell, a New York-based engineering and chemical-consulting company that the United States Army hired to run radiation tests. Under strict secrecy, Segura tested which cleaning agents removed radiation most effectively from human hands. As his career in radiochemistry progressed, he kept quiet about his growing attraction to other men. “I learned very early in life, when I was a child really, that that and all sexuality were things to be kept to myself,” he told the historian Jonathan Ned Katz, in 1977. He’d always assumed that, by the time he entered his twenties, he would develop desires for women, then marry and have kids. But in 1954, on a business trip to Cleveland, Segura stopped by a bookstore and saw a copy of “The Homosexual in America,” by Donald Webster Cory. “I immediately bought it, and was quite entranced with the book,” Segura told Katz.

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