Next month brings the 10th anniversary of legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts. We're not so very far away from a generation of young adults who will come of age with the expectation that they will be able to marry whomever they want. This is, of course, a giddy-making concept. But as with any generational shift, there's a real possibility that younger people will forget all the hard work that came before. Just last week, blogger Andrew Sullivan launched a blistering attack on New York Times journalist Jo Becker's new book, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality, for insinuating that the real battle for marriage equality started in 2008.

On his blog, the Dish, Sullivan argued that Becker had no sense of history: "The astonishing achievement of turning what was once deemed a joke into a serious national cause and issue happened in the 1990s and then more emphatically after George W. Bush's endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004." Sullivan went on to wonder "how on earth such a distorted and ahistorical and polemical attack on the architects of the marriage equality movement can have been written."

So how do you keep a history alive? How do you save lives from becoming glossed-over bullet points in aseptic history classes? You listen to the people who were there, the people who were marginalized by the people who get to write the official history. You learn how they lived, and you listen to their stories, which is the way you learn to feel what they felt.

Tom Spanbauer has been publishing novels since the late '80s. Over time, his role as a writer has shifted from outsider to beloved teacher of a whole new generation of novelists...

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