When he was an undergrad at Harvard, author and historian Eric Cervini’s first encounter with queer history surprisingly did not come from a book. “I watched the film Milk about Harvey Milk, and I was shocked that I knew nothing about this story,” Cervini says. “That’s where my interest in queer history began.”Cervini earned his Ph.D.
in history at Cambridge, and before he was 30, he wrote what is fast becoming a seminal read for the LGBTQ+ community. The Deviant’s War:The Homosexual vs.
The United States of America is the first in-depth book about Frank Kameny, a rising and talented astronomer at the U.S. Defense Department who was fired for being gay.
Cervini’s book was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in history and a New York Times best seller.“Kameny was working in Hawaii and was sent to Washington, D.C., in 1957 and ordered to report to the Pentagon, because the Defense Department had reason to believe he was gay,” Cervini says. “And after a series of really humiliating interviews, Kameny, like countless other gay men and women before him, was dismissed from his government job; however, unlike others, Kameny fought back.”“Kameny has often been called the grandfather of gay rights,” he adds. “The Deviant’s War follows all that Kameny did, particularly through the 1960s, when he was one [of] the founders [of] the Mattachine Society of Washington, which became the first organization to protest the systematic persecution of gay federal employees.”He devoted his life to advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, Cervini says. “I spent years researching the book and going through the thousands of Kameny’s papers, which are in the Library of Congress.