Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940
Winner of the 1994 "Los Angeles Times" Book Prize for history, this book challenges the conventional wisdom that before the 1960s gay life existed ... Show synopsis Winner of the 1994 "Los Angeles Times" Book Prize for history, this book challenges the conventional wisdom that before the 1960s gay life existed only in the closet. Based on years of research and access to private documents, including the diaries of gay man living in New York at the turn of the century, the author looks at a gay world which was not supposed to have existed. In his investigation of New York city, the gay capital of America for nearly a century, George Chauncey recreates the saloons, speakeasies and cafeterias where gay men gathered, describes the intimate parties and immense drag balls where they celebrated, and reconstructs the codes of dress, speech and style gay man developed to recognize and communicate with one another. Above all, the book shows that our most intimate sexual identities are stunningly recent creations. It depicts a complex pre-war sexual culture in which men were not divided into homosexuals and heterosexuals but into fairies, wolves, queers and "normal" men, in a society in which sexual normality was not defined by exclusive heterosexuality.