I love this case study.
It is from a blog post from Sam Thomas Davies.
I hope he doesn’t mind me repeating it in full because it is beautifully written.
‘When gay liberation groups started campaigning against homophobia in the late 1960s, their initial efforts only yielded a string of failures.
They urged lesbians and gay men to “come out”, and to dismantle and rebuild social institutions without defined sexual roles.
But were roundly defeated in state legislatures.
Teachers tried to create curriculums to counsel gay teens, but were fired for suggesting homosexuality should be embraced.
It seemed like the gay community’s larger goals – ending discrimination and police harassment, and convincing the American Psychiatric Association to stop defining homosexuality as a mental disease – were far from achievable.
Then, in the early 1970s, the American Library Association’s Task Force on Gay Liberation decided to focus on one modest goal:
Convincing the Library of Congress to reclassify books about the gay liberation movement from HQ 71-471 (“Abnormal Sexual Relations, Including Sexual Crimes”) to another, less pejorative category.
In 1972, after receiving a letter requesting the reclassification, the Library of Congress agreed to make the change and reclassified books into a newly created category: HQ 76.5 (“Homosexuality, Lesbianism – Gay Liberation Movement, Homophile Movement”).
It was a minor tweak of an old institutional habit regarding how books were shelved, but the effect was profound.
News of the new policy spread across America and gay rights organisations, citing the victory, started fundraising drives.
In 1973, after years of internal debate, the American Psychiatric Association finally conceded and removed homosexuality as a category of disorder, and The New Zealand College of Psychiatry Federal Council declared it wasn’t a mental illness – the first such body in the world to do so.
This became a catalyst for widespread change; state laws were rewritten and discrimination because of sexual orientation was made illegal.
Within a few years, openly gay politicians – including Kathy Kozachenko – ran for political office in Michigan, Ohio, California, New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon; with many of them citing the Library of Congress’s decision as inspiration.’
And it all began with one small win.
As i said a wonderful case study on the power of small wins.