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Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians Hardcover – October 2, 2006
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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.
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
Top customer reviews
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.