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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (October 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046502288X
  • ASIN: B000WCTS3Q
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,131,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This social, political and cultural history of lesbian and gay life in Los Angeles by two seasoned historians is easily the subject's definitive work. Presenting a wealth of fact and analysis, Faderman (Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers) and Timmons (The Trouble with Harry Hay) breeze through the highlights of L.A. gay history. They begin with the suppression of Native Americans' sexual and gender expression by 16th-century Spanish missionaries, before exploring how gender-bending Hollywood stars such as Garbo and Katharine Hepburn shaped popular culture in the 1930s; the emergence of gay public places during the '40s and '50s; and the influence of gay religious groups in the 1970s. While much gay history has centered on white gay men, the authors add important material about the vital role of lesbians and people of color, such as Helen Sandoz and Anne Carll Reid, who worked to bridge the gender gap in 1950s homosexual politics. Although this popular history doesn't strive for academic comprehensiveness, it's filled with illuminating facts—such as that gay men rioted and protested for several days after police raided the Black Cat bar in 1967, two years before the Stonewall Riots in New York. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Focusing on Los Angeles, Faderman and Timmons fill a gap in American gay history. Archival sources dating back to the nineteenth century; interviews of 250 people, many now elderly; recovered court transcripts; private mementos; scrapbooks; and many other resources, public and private, furnished the raw materials for their informative, detailed account, which finds that "historically, more lesbian and gay institutions started in Los Angeles than anywhere else on the planet." The work spans from the 1800s, when invading Euro-Americans came to outnumber southern California's Indian population and quash its sexually ambivalent and tolerant culture; to the 1920s, when "the lesbian cavortings of silent film stars . . . were Hollywood's open secret"; the 1950s and the LAPD's entrapments of gays; and the 1960s and the extraordinary growth of LA's out gay male population; to the present, when L.A. continues to set fashion and social trends (Western-wear sales are soaring, thanks to Brokeback Mountain). This meticulously researched, very readable text merits a place in sociology, gender--studies, and urban-history collections. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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It seems very well researched and organized.
A. Brink
I read about gay rights in the news every week, but never knew much about the background of this movement.
Amy S.
Succinct and fascinating, Gay L.A. is a must read!
Robert G. Drake

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Dynes on November 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The new book by Faderman and Timmons fills a major lacuna. For some years we have had the benefit of monographs on the gay and lesbian history of such major American cities as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Los Angeles, in some ways the most important city of all in this respect, has been missing. All in all, the new book was well worth waiting for. Clearly written and well-documented with footnotes, it presents a historical account from the pre-Hispanic berdache, through the early decades of Anglo LA, the movie colony, the rise of the gay movement, the development of gay institutions, and on down to a brief look at the present. A particular strength is the material on women, which must be credited to the diligence and resourcefulness of the senior author, a distinguished scholar in the field of lesbian studies.

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?
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amy S. on December 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read about gay rights in the news every week, but never knew much about the background of this movement. Gay L.A. is a great read and opens up a new world of activism, secret lives, and entire underground societies. It's easy to think that New York and San Francisco were responsible for all the gay breakthroughs, but Los Angeles has an amazing story. This book also tells the story of gay women as well as gay men, which is fascinating. This book is carefully footnoted, but is written like an epic novel, reaching back into the 1800s. It's free of the political dogma and academic jargon that can weigh down similar books. Like it or not, L.A. is one of America's major cities, and what's so interesting is that it's a bunch of small towns, beaches, immigrants and Hollywood all rolled into one. You learn so much about the city itself as well as the gay world, which had to be hidden until recently. I strongly recommend it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bobla on December 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Gay L.A." is an important, very comprehensive and inspiring book--one that we've all been waiting for! It is packed with two-centuries worth of fascinating information, but it doesn't read like a boring history book at all. I was intrigued by all stuff I didn't know: the role of gay people in the city's early formation and especially the decades of corrupt oppression that were to follow. There is also a lot of new information about the Hollywood-studio era and the beginnings of the gay liberation movement in Los Angeles. This book really held my interest throughout. The Los Angeles Times gave it a full-page rave review, which "Gay L.A." certainly deserves.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rodney Hoffman on December 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
[Disclaimer: Co-author Stuart Timmons is a friend of mine.]

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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert G. Drake on April 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Too often San Francisco is noted as being the leader in the contemporary Gay/Lesbian movement in California. This book, GAY L.A., proves that there was and is more than one large city in our fine State that has played a significant role in the gay movement. Succinct and fascinating, Gay L.A. is a must read!
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By Toby on June 24, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I liked it. I liked this book very much. I enjoyed this book very much because it was just what I was looking for. I try to spread out my reading to keep a wide variety following. This book kept my interest. I liked the balance, the development of the characters and the over all pictures created. I share my reviews with two book clubs, one in New York and the other here in Aspen. I love to share reviews of book as it is so positive and I get great tips. This book will be an added showcase. I try my best to give either a positive review or nothing at all, negative review are worthless to me and those in our book clubs, we look for the positive. This book was just what I was looking for, not too much of anything, fun where it should have been and no so where it needed to be serious. Great job. Other book I recommend are: Obsession Into Darkness (Gay Thriller) this was a real read, I loved it, I've Always Known (Child Abuse) I cried when reading this true story, From Boys to Men (Gay Classic), this was a hot one, Reflections In The Looking Glass - A Murder Mystery That Will Surprise you (Gay Murder Mystery),Ride 'Em Cowboy (Gay Cowboy), ...Read more ›
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More About the Author

Lillian Faderman is the author of "My Mother's Wars" (Beacon Press, 2013). She is an internationally known scholar of lesbian history and literature, as well as of ethnic and immigrant history. She is the author of such acclaimed works as To Believe in Woman, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, Surpassing the Love of Men, I Begin My Life All Over, and her memoir Naked in the Promised Land.

Photographer Photo Credit Name: Phyllis Irwin, 2012.