Tom Brokaw Explains “Booming” Gay Absence

Newsman Tom Brokaw came under fire earlier this week for neglecting to mention gay folk in his new book, Boom! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the ’60s and Today. Upon hearing the news, legendary gay activist Frank Kameny wrote Brokaw and his publishers a scathing letter which reads, in part:

The whole thing is deeply insulting. As I said, you have de-gayed an entire generation. For shame, for shame, for shame. You owe an abject public apology to the entire gay community. I demand it; we expect it.

Brokaw offers no apologies in this CNN interview. Rather, the venerable journalist dismisses Kameny’s criticism, saying, “it was not an oversight on my part to try to downplay the rise of the gay rights movement, which did come later.” He’s also sure to remind readers that he took “friend” Larry Kramer‘s advice and aired the first television documentary on AIDS. That’s something, right?

Read the transcript after the jump…

KURTZ: I have heard some criticism of the book saying that you deal with civil rights, you deal with women’s liberation, as it was called then, but you don’t devote any time or space to the burgeoning gay rights movement. Is that something…


BROKAW: I don’t, because the gay rights movement came slightly later. It lifted off during that time and I had to make some choices about what I was going to concentrate on. The big issues were the anti-war movement, the counterculture.

I do make some reference to it, but it is only fleeting. And it wasn’t any attempt on my part to suppress it. It is just that the gay rights movement really came later after the ‘60s, it really began to take hold in the ‘70s.

I did the first television documentary on AIDS in America, and it was because my friend Larry Kramer had stopped me on the street and said, there is something going on in the gay community that you need to pay attention to. So in this book it was not an oversight on my part to try to downplay the rise of the gay rights movement, which did come later.