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How to Fix Democracy

May 8, 2024

For this episode, host Andrew Keen sits down with James Kirchick, journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Secret City: the Hidden History of Gay Washington. They discuss the historical exclusion of gay individuals within American democracy, with a particular emphasis on the challenges - from legal persecution to professional exclusion, and social stigmatization, Kirchick and Keen explore how political attitudes towards gay rights have evolved, intertwining with broader cultural and political shifts. Kirchick describes the gradual inclusion of homosexuals in the democratic process, highlighting key moments of setbacks and progress over the past century. The conversation explores significant events such as the Kinsey report in 1948, the Alger Hiss case, McCarthyism, and the political landscape during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The emergence of homosexuality as a national political issue, alongside movements like gay liberation and the AIDS crisis, had a profound impact on American politics and society. When America openly accepted homosexuals into its civic and cultural life, it marked a significant enhancement of its democracy.