From Publishers Weekly
Many people presume San Francisco's gay-friendly character began in the 1970s, but this engaging if sometimes facile social history uncovers sexually tolerant roots that go back much further. Boyd, a women's studies professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, shows that as far back as the Gold Rush of 1849, the city manifested a charmingly lax attitude toward enforcement of public morals-gaining a reputation as a "wide-open town"-and repeatedly resisted civic moralists who tried to enforce antivice laws. By the 1930s and the fall of Prohibition, the city hosted "publicly visible queer cultures and communities" with tourist-friendly nightclubs and bars. While Boyd relies on standard historical texts and sources such as police records for basic city history, the book is deeply informed and enlivened by 42 oral histories she gathered with lesbians and gay men who have lived in San Francisco since the 1930s. Five are partially reprinted here, and this terrific material allows Boyd to explore topics that have traditionally been ignored by gay historians: how drag shows helped stimulate the tourist economy of the city; how its African-American community engendered changes in the structures of the gay community; how a distinct lesbian public space evolved with the advent of such bars as Mona's in the 1930s and '40s; and how the city put itself at the forefront of transgender activism in the 1950s and '60s. Boyd has a keen ear for distinctive details, and it is this (rather than her major contention, that "the politics of everyday life were every bit as important as the politics of organized social movement activism") that drives this welcome study.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"For anyone interested in as-yet-untold queer history, this is a must-read." - New York Blade News "Shows that as far back as the Gold Rush of 1849, [San Francisco] manifested a charmingly lax attitude toward enforcement of public morals - gaining a reputation as a "wide-open town" - Publishers Weekly"