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The Lavender Locker Room: 3000 Years of Great Athletes Whose Sexual Orientation Was Different Paperback – November 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Speculating about who's gay and who isn't has long been a pastime of gossip columnists, gay activists and sports fans. This chatty and informed, if inconclusive, three-millennium survey of queer sports figures holds some surprises, but they aren't contemporary baseball players or figure skating champions. Warren, who gained fame with her 1974 novel about an openly gay track star (The Frontrunner), doesn't aim for inclusiveness, but she is iconoclastic. Beginning with Achilles and Patroclus, she jumps to Joan of Arc (renowned for her jousting ability), and then George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, one of Europe's first horse breeders when he wasn't dating James I. Twentieth-century figures include Big Bill Tilden, who reinvented men's tennis in 1919 before his career was ruined by a teenage male prostitute; aviator Amelia Earhart, tennis star Martina Navratilova and football player Dave Kopay. Warren essentially uses these sports heroes as an excuse for a series of witty, well-written meditations on such topics as same-sex love—or the lack of it—in movies like Brokeback Mountain and Troy; on gladiators as sex symbols; the importance of fencing in the Harry Potter series; and the politics of hormone testing for women athletes. $30,000 marketing budget. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Patricia Nell Warren is the landmark author of some of the most popular gay novels of all time. Each of her books has been a milestone in America's understanding and acceptance of GBLT themes. Her most renowned work, The Front Runner, has sold an estimated eleven million copies in eleven languages. The first modern story about gay love to become an international bestseller, Warren's celebrated saga of an ex-Marine track coach and his Olympics-bound athlete has engaged and inspired both gay and mainstream readers for over a quarter of a century. Warren's novels have also sold heavily to libraries and are used in numerous college courses. Wildcat Press is Ms. Warren's exclusive imprint, offering some of the best in enduring gay literature. Established in 1993, the dynamic independent publisher has released both past and present bestsellers, winning it critical acclaim. Current titles include, The Front Runner, Billy's Boy, Harlan's Race, The Fancy Dancer, The Beauty Queen, One Is The Sun, and The Wild Man. Dedicated to furthering free speech, Wildcat Press has been one of the plaintiffs for the ACLU in several recent landmark lawsuits, two of which went to the United States Supreme Court. Wildcat maintains that we are all one community regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation, and that tolerance brings understanding and acceptance.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Wildcat Press; 1st edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1889135070
  • ISBN-13: 978-1889135076
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,401,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author




Patricia Nell Warren has written and published professionally since 1954, at age 18. In 59 years, her subjects have ranged from women and Goddess Earth to human rights, from gay life and mixed-blood people in American history to wildlife, the environment and current events.

Now 76 years old, she was born in 1936 and raised on a Montana ranch. She worked as a Reader's Digest book editor for 15 years, on both the magazine staff and the Condensed Book Club.

Today Warren lives in Glendale, CA, where she co-owns an independent book-publishing and media company, Wildcat International and Wildcat Press.


Since 1971 Warren has published eight novels -- several with mainstream publishers (Morrow, Bantam, Ballantine, Dial Press, Penguin) and several under her own independent imprint, Wildcat Press. The Front Runner, Harlan's Race and Billy's Boy are a landmark series that follows an evolving family through 20 years of gay life.

She also published two mainstream novels, The Last Centennial (1971) and One Is the Sun (1991).

Warren's best-known fiction work, The Front Runner, was first published by William Morrow in 1974, and became the most popular gay love story of all time. The book has sold an estimated 10 million copies worldwide and been translated into ten languages, the most recent being Complex Chinese.

Film rights of The Front Runner have been in development for some years, and received a great deal attention as one of "Hollywood's unmade gay films" during Brokeback Mountain's run-up for the Academy Awards.

Currently Warren is working on a new novel titled Wrong Side of the Tracks.


Warren's newest title is her second nonfiction book. It's titled My West: Personal Writings on the American West, an anthology of nonfiction articles about Warren's roots in the historical and modern West. Published in 2011, it won an international Rainbow Award in the nonfiction category.

Warren's articles and op-eds have appeared in a variety of mainstream publications, including Atlantic Monthly, Los Angeles Times, Reader's Digest, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Modern Maturity, Persimmon Hill, New York Press, Des Moines Register, Mythosphere, Corporate Africa. She has also published in various leading gay publications.

For A & U Magazine she writes a monthly column on the politics of AIDS and public health. Online, she blogs at The Bilerico Project, the most popular and politically vociferous glbt blog on the Web.

Film Development

As a result of interest in movies based on her novels, Warren has moved into active development herself as an executive producer, in partnership with Greg Zanfardino of Moniker Entertainment. At present, she has several docudrama projects on her slate, including an Australian group's novel search for the wreck site of Amelia Earhart's aircraft in Papua New Guinea.

Activism and Politics

Warren's political activism started during the 1960s, with efforts -- while still a Reader's Digest editor -- to have American media recognize the individuality of Ukrainians and other ethnic groups in the USSR.

In the 1970s Warren was the plaintiffs' spokesperson for Susan Smith v. Reader's Digest, a landmark lawsuit that resulted in a class-action victory for women. As a former amateur athlete, Warren helped lead a group of women distance runners who forced the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union, the then governing body of amateur sports in the U.S.) to change discriminatory rules in the mid-70s.

More recently, in the free-speech realm, Warren has been a named plaintiff in both federal lawsuits over Internet censorship -- namely ACLU v. Reno (which went to the U.S. Supreme Court and resulted in a victory for the plaintiffs) and the more recent ACLU lawsuit over the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which was also struck down as unconstitutional.

As recognition for her activism, Warren has won a number of awards, including New York City's Public Advocate Award and the Barry Goldwater Award.


More information on Warren can be found at: and

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Best known as the author of THE FRONT RUNNER, Patricia Nell Warren's work as a novelist has a distinctly muscular quality; THE LAVENDER LOCKER ROOM, however, shows her at her informal best and is more akin to sitting across the table from the lady as she ruminates on what it means to be both athlete and homosexual, contemplating past and present, shifting easily between mythology, rumor, and hard fact.

The result is as entertaining as it is informative--and, like most of Warren's writings, will no doubt light a fire under the backside of those who have never examined gender stereotypes. Warren opens with reflections on The Iliad's ancient tale of Achilles and Patroclus, indicating the nature of male sexuality in the ancient world (and taking a few swipes at such films as TROY, which go into over-drive to avoid the homo-eroticism involved.) More particularly, however, Warren offers the story to make a very interesting point: sports as we now think of them arose from the military.

Warren elaborates the thought in a series of reflections on such figures as the mysterious Joan of Arc, Roman gladiators, the legendary Amazons, and the equally legendary Sir Lancelot--and then introduces the first person in the text that we know beyond doubt was both real and really gay: Richard Coeur de Leon, who was not only a great swordsman but also rather notorious in his choice of bedmates. Having set the stage, she then runs the gamut from George Villers, lover of King James I and the man who helped lay the foundations of modern equestrian sport, to David Kopay, NFL running back, whose admission of homosexuality created a tremendous scandal in the mid-1970s.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Lauritsen on April 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Though I've been a fan of Patricia Nell Warren ever since I read _The Front Runner_ back in 1974, this book was even better than I expected. It consists of a dozen and a half chapters, each on a particular sport and the gay men and lesbians who excelled in it. The subject of athletics is dear to the heart of Warren, who grew up in a family of jocks, on a large ranch in Montana. She herself became a long-distance runner, who helped open up the longer races to women.

When I first opened _The Lavender Locker Room_, I was tempted to read only the ones on sports I was interested in. But when I got into it, I found every single chapter so interesting -- and each of the chapters so different from the others -- that I didn't skip anything, and was sorry there weren't more when I came to the end of the book.

The _Iliad_, written about 22 centuries ago, is one of the supreme masterpieces of world literature. Warren demonstrates that the love between Achilles and Patroclus, both formidable warriors, is at the very heart of the _Iliad_. The _Iliad_ also has the first literary depiction of an athletic competition, the funeral games for Patroclus. To her chagrin (and mine) the recent movie, Troy (with Achilles played by a 40-year old Brad Pitt), blanked out male love and omitted the athletic games.

Her other "pre-modern times" chapters -- jousting, fencing, and horse racing -- have much new information. I never imagined, from either my _Boy's King Arthur_ or from Malory, that there were female jousters -- though, come to think of it, there are female warriors in Ariosto's 16th century epic poem, _Orlando Furioso_.
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