Jeffrey Dudgeon, a founding member of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association, was referring to Terrible Queer Creatures - Homosexuality in Irish History at the publication's launch in Dublin last night.
"Just as the women's movement sparked an interest in the hidden history of women, so it is argued that the hidden history of homosexuality has its role to play in the onward struggle for freedom from ignorance and prejudice," Mr Dudgeon said.
Author Brian Lacey (59) said he believed it was one of the first comprehensive works on the topic to date and the professional archaeologist said it was written because he had collected information on the subject over the years.
Afterwards, he remarked that the book was the kind of tome he would have liked to have read when he came out as a teenager in Dublin in the late 1960s.
Mr Lacey's mother, Nora (78), was at the launch and said she had read the manuscript before it was printed.
"Brian was the first person that I knew who was gay, but it never changed our relationship. The book is very, very well written and I am very proud of him," she said.
Mr Lacey's brother Dermot, a former lord mayor of Dublin, was also at the celebration in the Oak Room of the Mansion House.
In his speech Mr Dudgeon commented wryly: "Archaeologists, in my experience, are somewhat like church music enthusiasts and genealogists, disproportionately gay. I wonder why . . . but there is a love of the past in the community."
He said the 300-page hardback will be useful to "set the record straight and to show that gay men and lesbians in this country do have a history behind them".
He said that gay people have "no need to be coy or embarrassed about those who have gone before us".
According to the publisher, the book attempts to describe homosexuality in Ireland dating from early Ireland to the late 20th century.
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