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Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. Paperback – April 1, 1992

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Revised edition (April 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452010926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452010925
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Josh Thomas on December 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
What's striking about the hundreds of stories documented here is how much we're like these people of centuries ago, and how much they're like us today. Often they faced oppression too horrible for us to imagine (imprisoned, put to death, kidnapped, hospitalized, drugged, lobotomized, castrated, and those were just for starters), but they responded much as we might have in their shoes: usually with courage, but sometimes with cowardice; usually with great faithfulness to their loved ones, but sometimes willing to betray them; often defiantly, but sometimes meekly; they generally lived with a great deal of personal integrity, though some turned to crime and others went crazy. These are people we recognize! And in them we see ourselves.
More than anything, this book shows the existence of a shared Gay and Lesbian culture across the centuries (despite the claims of today's ignorant cynics). If these shadowy figures from the past could time-travel to our own era, they would be shocked at our freedom -- then they'd shout for joy and fit right in.
Don't be the least concerned about the book's length or turn away because it's about "history." The vignettes Katz assembled are usually brief, often only a page or two, which makes the book easy to put down when you need a breather, and easy to pick up again, without having to go back and refresh your memory; you'll always know what he's talking about. These are people you will be proud of. Their stories' cumulative effect gives this volume its power, and makes it, in my view, the most important Gay book of the 20th century.
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Format: Paperback
Jonathan Katz would be sainted if he never wrote another word or produced another bit of research. This fine documentary history traces the tragedy and triumph, joy and pain of the lives of gay people in these United States from native people and pilgrims to the mental hospitals of the 20th century. We meet workers and vagabonds, gentlemen and gentleladies, ruffians and scoundrels, all presented in their own words through the impeccable research, editing and writing of Jonathan Katz. I bought the first edition of this book, and it sits dogged earred and loved on my bookshelf. You will weep with humor, anger and shame at these pentrating pictures of lives that were hidden away by prejudice and too often still are.
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Format: Paperback
I read "Gay American History" when I was coming out and it was a revelation. Though some of the concepts are outdated, and the facts have been superseded by later research, it remains the basic text book for gay (and lesbian) American history. Katz paved the way for John Boswell, John D'Emilio, Allan Berube, George Chauncey and many, many other historians. Katz has his biases, and he does go overboard to provide "gender balance", but all in all his book is very educational and extremely entertaining. You can't go wrong with this one.
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Format: Paperback
Because homosexuality was seen as a perversion few people were prepared to chronicle its history. The author explains that only recently have the first two Ph.D. theses on homosexuality been permitted in the history and political science departments of American universities.

Katz spells it out graphically that magistrates and medics persecuted and mutilated gays.

There is an excerpt from a paper presented at an international medico-legal congress in 1893 by Dr. F.E. Daniel of Austin, Texas.calling for castration.

Some advocated group psychotherapy and suggested that the recipients should pay for it out of their own pockets, much like alcoholics.

McCarthy didn’t pick on Jews because he was too close to the Nazi era, so he picked on communists and gays.

During that era, an official wanted all homosexuals sacked from government work. He did not care what definition of ‘homosexual’ was – anything would do and any number of people would have their careers and lives wrecked. He didn’t want to know the facts. He just wanted them out because they supposedly were a security risk.

Homosexuals were worse than murderers.

One man with a weak heart was given an emetic which caused a heart attack and killed him. How incompetent of the medics.

One ‘cure’ was hard work or sublimation into music or art.

Psychoanalysis didn’t cure people any more than Popeye’s spinach made people strong.

Overwhelmingly, gay men started out at ages 14-15.

There’s a lesbian who was excommunicated (‘withdrawn from fellowship’) from her Baptist church for dressing in men’s clothing but who later concludes that she is being persecuted for her beliefs.
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