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Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 2, 2006
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Photograph by Phyllis Irwin.
Top Customer Reviews
Quite properly, the authors reject the stereotypes that Easterners (still!) cherish about Los Angeles. It is only fair that they should do a little boasting of their own. The city has its own particular aura, its genius loci. It is in this connection, though, that I detect the one flaw in the book. The authors give an account of the rise of the first substantial American gay movement in the years 1947-51, with the work of Harry Hay, Edith Eyde, Dorr Legg and others. However, they do not offer a convincing explanation of why this event, which has been of epochal and enduring significance to American gays and lesbians, should arise in that particular American city. A half century ago, other cities, with older traditions and more substantial populations, might have been expected to make the great leap forward. Instead it was done in Los Angeles. Why?
I very much enjoyed the book. Certainly, those of us who lived through some of the events and who know or knew some of the people will enjoy the tale. And many folks, particularly newer generations, don't know much about this history at all. There's also plenty of new research, leading to rich detail that's never been told before.
Tales of Hollywood celebrities are culturally important, but are only one part of the much larger story of gay L.A. told in this book. More interesting to me, for example, are the variant sexualities of Native Americans ruthlessly suppressed by missionaries, the prominence of nineteenth century transvetites, the lurching evolution of sexual law and politics, and much more.
The history of oppression in the 1940s, '50s, and early '60s is especially chilling. Gay men and women in the post-war era could be arrested simply on suspicion of being gay. Gay activists were hindered by a legal system that forbade the mailing of any kind of publication that mentioned homosexuality until 1958, when the Supreme Court ruled they too had freedom of speech and press, something a lower court had denied.
If you read the sections on the mid-20th century along with books about that era like The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the DecadesBefore Roe v. Wade, about pregnant unmarried women who were forced to leave home to give birth and relinquish their children, it becomes clearer why nuclear families seemed ubiquitous during the 1950s: Everyone else had been silenced or exiled.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this. A case study of LA emphasizing the history of the last 70 years, Faderman considers the deep divisions, diversity, and potential for unity that created both LA and... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Neku
Great book I had to purchase this book for class and it was so informative that I ended up reading the whole book. Read morePublished 11 months ago by KitKat80
The first 1/3 of this book is just great, and will leave you with all sorts of memorable stories that you will want to tell to people. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Wendy
This is a fascinating history book of life in LA for the LGBT community. My only complaint is that I felt it was a little light in the history in the 1960s but I'm going to... Read morePublished on February 3, 2014 by Tim Parrott
I resisted reading this book for a few years because I wanted to be out of WHD and settled elsewhere where I could objectively absorb and critique the book. Read morePublished on January 22, 2014 by hh
Although I already knew some of the history recorded here, this life-long east coaster still found it well worth a look. I've wanted to settle in L. A. Read morePublished on March 1, 2012 by James Sheridan
This book covers a large number of facts about gay LA. It seems very well researched and organized. Read morePublished on January 17, 2012 by A. Brink
Amazing book! Lived in L.A. for a good chunk of my life and found this book a great tool to satisfy the gay historian in me!Published on October 27, 2010 by Dusty