The award-winning, field-defining history of gay life in New York City in the early to mid-20th century
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. Drawing on a rich trove of diaries, legal records, and other unpublished documents, George Chauncey constructs a fascinating portrait of a vibrant, cohesive gay world that is not supposed to have existed. Called "monumental" (Washington Post), "unassailable" (Boston Globe), "brilliant" (The Nation), and "a first-rate book of history" (The New York Times), Gay New Yorkforever changed how we think about the history of gay life in New York City, and beyond.
Mining oral histories, diaries, police records, newspaper reports, etc., University of Chicago historian Chauncey here re-creates the prototypical pre-WW II gay community in New York City, which participated actively in the city's social and cultural life, until restrictive legislation forced it underground. Chauncey takes us on a tour of gay enclaves ranging from the Bowery's ``degenerate resorts,'' where effeminate ``fairies'' openly mingled with working-class heterosexuals, to Harlem's celebrated drag balls and Broadway's (plus publishing row's) ``pansy craze.'' Chauncey's deft charting of racial and class-divided clusters within the gay community itself is deepened with myth-shattering insights into shifting heterosexual attitudes toward gays, as well as transitions in their own self-perceptions. The impact made by this richly textured study is powerful.