Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940by George Chauncey
Pub. Date: 05/28/1995
Publisher: Basic Books
Gay New York brilliantly shatters the myth that before the 1960s gay life existed only in the closet, where gay men were isolated, invisible, and self-hating. Based on years of research and access to a rich trove of diaries, legal records, and other unpublished documents, this book is a fascinating portrait of a gay world that is not supposed to have/i>
Gay New York brilliantly shatters the myth that before the 1960s gay life existed only in the closet, where gay men were isolated, invisible, and self-hating. Based on years of research and access to a rich trove of diaries, legal records, and other unpublished documents, this book is a fascinating portrait of a gay world that is not supposed to have existed.
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I needed to kill some time in NYC before an appointment and popped into B&N to see what was new and found Gay NY on the shelf. Looked historically intriguing so, I found a chair, opened the book and read...for the next two hours! Missed the appointment, but found my roots a la Alex Haley! Its size is not intimidating for those who like to choke on lots of information (lol), in fact the size lends itself to lots of info lost or forgotten by our fellow brothers. In an age where it seems only youth, beauty and size matter we tend to ignore those who have come before us because they're 'not with it' or 'can't keep up.' Yet, how will we know where we are going if we don't know where we've come from? If you know someone who needs to get a clue and touch base with reality, then this is the book for them! Wish my last dinner partner had read it...or anything for that matter so that we could have conversed about something other than his latest Botox injections. Enjoy it!
Chauncey's book -- used as one of many textbooks in a graduate course I took a few years ago -- provides historical and psychological roots to gay men. It's so hard to find a clear and well-written history . . . something that answers the important questions like (1) Who are my gay forefathers?; (2) Why are green carnations, red ties and lavender mist symbols of gay culture?; and, (3) Aren't there better ways to meet life partners other than in the baths? It's thick, but not boring; it's detailed, but not pedentic; and, lastly, it's an antidote to narrow-minded histories that present America as 100% heterosexual.