Download pdf Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940 By George Chauncey – Mariahilff.de

Heterosexuality had not become a precondition of gender normativity in early twentieth century working class culture Men had to be many things in order to achieve the status of normal men, but being heterosexual was not one of them If many working men thought they demonstrated their sexual virility by taking the man s part in sexual encounters with either women or men, normal middle class men increasingly believed that their virility depended on their exclusive sexual interest in women Heterosexuality had not become a precondition of gender normativity in early twentieth century working class culture Men had to be many things in order to achieve the status of normal men, but being heterosexual was not one of them If many working men thought they demonstrated their sexual virility by taking the man s part in sexual encounters with either women or men, normal middle class men increasingly believed that their virility depended on their exclusive sexual interest in women I have my hands or head full with Mrs Dalloway and Tsvetaeva s intense autobiographical collages, but this is too good to put down Chauncey has just finished discussing the many rituals by which the sailors, dockworkers, hoboes seasonal laborers and homosocial immigrants of early 1900s New York affirmed manliness and male status you re physically strong you do hard and dangerous work you dominate sexual partners, be they female prostitutes or the painted rent boys lounging in every saloon you drink a lot, and buy drinks for your pals he s about to launch his argument that our ironclad hetero homosexual binarism evolved as the only way for the deskbound, domesticated middle class men to define manliness In the absence of physical labor, in the scarcity of dangerous tests of strength, heterosexuality is invented I m tempted to sigh, Gore Vidal ishly, ah, the deformations wrought by embourgeoisement on immemorial sexual fluidity But the sexual fluidity of working class men was built on intense sexism and restrictive gender roles, and the post industrial economy probably represents an historic advance for women I scrutinize GQ and Esquire because I m fascinated by the spectacle of American men struggling to elaborate, or simply believe in, a white collar masculinity It s not working Maybe in cultures with aristocratic traditions of non laboring men, but not here All we ve got is well, I know I m not gay Such were my impressions 130 pages in Chauncey deepens his portrait of middle class angst He points out that the number of salaried, nonpropertied men grew eight fold from 1870 to 1910 The emergence of the salaryman unsettled the conceptions of male status and occupational spheres of the American middle class, which had always striven for the illusory independence of the entrepreneur and scorned wage earning beyond a certain stage of youth life long wage earning, Abraham Lincoln had said before an audience at the Wisconsin State Fair in 1859, could be attributed to a dependant nature which prefers it Instead of the prosperous farmer or small capitalist, in business for himself, the paradigmatic bourgeois was, by 1900, a deskbound office worker performing fragmented and sedentary work in the middling bureaus of vast corporations, in the Lamb Gogol Kafka milieu of superfluous men who make nothing, do nothing, while dependant on other men inscrutable bosses for wages and approval, and surrounded by female secretaries who, while certainly subordinate, perform only slightly differentiated, similarly abstracted tasks Middle class men began to worry over the dangers of overcivilization The idea of war as a contest of racial virilities reappears, with a squeaky Rooseveltan accent, at this time as do cults of prizefighters and strongmen, the purposeful wilderness tramping of puerile paramilitaries, and the collegiate enshrinement of moral equivalents of war like football Also arising in this time of threatened gender order, Chauncey argues, is the enshrinement of heterosexuality as a precondition of gender normativity Homosexuals occupied a visible niche in the street life of immigrant neighborhoods, in the waterfront saloon milieu of the bachelor subculture, in the Storyvilles of the Sporting Life While a few words used by gay men were made up terms that had no meaning in standard English or slang, most gave standard terms a second, gay meaning Many were derived from the slang of female prostitutes Gay itself referred to female prostitutes before it referred to gay mentrade and trick referred to prostitutes customers before they referred to gay men s partners and cruising referred to a streetwalker s search for partners before it referred to a gay man s and were policed, surveilled and suppressed alongside the other forms of rough masculine amusement prostitution, drinking, gambling, burlesque shows ingredient to that world At its broadest Gay New York is the story of the turf struggle, commencing in the Progressive Era, between working class and bourgeois understandings of acceptable sociability and use of urban space, between middle class reformers and a host of evils they saw in urban life Privately funded societies for the suppression of vice, committees of moral guardians, sent undercover agents into dens of iniquity, first to sniff out female prostitution, later to document male degeneracy In time they compiled a secret archive diagrams of bath houses, maps of cruising grounds, even records of conversations between gay men and the agents that Chauncey calls the richest source of study for historians of early twentieth century gay life Such is the ironic fate of a persecutorial dossier meant to spur enforcement from laissez faire city cops local police precincts could and often were paid off to ignore bath houses, or even, in some cases, to provide door security for drag balls Out of all the testimony Chauncey braids into this vivid book, the street corner chats recorded by agents are most striking you get to meet people in history, a few faces cast up sharply from the waves, as Pater would say The streets and corners were crowded with the sailors all of whom were on a sharp lookout for girls It seemed to me that the sailors were sex mad A number of these sailors were with other man walking arm in arm and on one dark street I saw a sailor and a man kissing each other It looked like an exhibition of male perversion showing itself in the absence of girls or the difficulty of finding them Some of the sailors told me that they might be able to get a girl if they went up town but it was too far up and they were too drunk to go way up there Conditions about the Brooklyn Navy Yard, June 6, 1917, box 25, Committee of Fourteen papers, New York Public Library The story of one black gay man who lived in the basement of a rooming house on West Fiftieth Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, in 1919 suggests the latitude and limitations of rooming house life The tenant felt free to invite whom he met on the street into his room One summer evening, for instance, he invited an undercover investigator he had met while sitting on the basement stairs But, as he later explained to his guest, while three young fellows had been visiting him in his room on a regular basis, he had finally decided to stop seeing the youths because they made too much noise, and he did not want to landlady to get wise Not only might be lose his room, he feared, but also his job as the house s chambermaid Chauney s prose, with quotations from Report on colored fairy, 63 W 50th St., Aug 2, 1919, box 34, Committee of Fourteen papers, New York Public Library After WWI the reformers got one of their wishes, Prohibition the suppression of the saloon and its attendant evils But like the YMCA hotels, gay trysting colonies originally built as Christian berths for sojourning innocents, Prohibition s effect was the nightmarish opposite of the one intended Upper and middle class New Yorkers resorted to gangster run basement speakeasies, immigrant restaurants and working class rent parties to get their drink on Prohibition dissolved barriers between bourgeois and proletarian amusement, between respectability and criminality, public and private, commercial space and home life The mainstreaming of working class sociability meant the heightened visibility of gay men, long familiar figures on the streets and vaudeville stages of rougher neighborhoods and on the park benches and rooftops where working class couples, straight and gay, sought a little darkened privacy away from their crowded family tenements and with the waning of the Harlem craze, the Negro vogue for elaborate plantation and jungle themed floor shows, nightspots began pushing a new transgressive novelty, the pansy show These ran the gamut from vaudeville ish buffoonery the gay equivalent of blackface, Chauncey calls it to the assertive fabulousness of Jean Malin A Lithuanian immigrant who had become, by his late teens, a famous drag performer as Imogene Wilson , Malin, now dressed as in men s clothes, helmed an immensely popular act in several Times Square clubs in the early 1930s Malin didn t sing or dance, he simply strolled about the club, interacting with the patrons and using his camp wit to entertain them and presumably scandalizing them with his overtly gay comments Such interaction implied the hooting and catcalls of some straight male club goers, and Malin was famous for his arch verbal beheadings of hecklers His resistance was physical, as well He was a 200lb six footer who could kick some ass Once, after winning a drag contest, Malin wandered into a late night cafeteria, still resplendently gowned and high on solidarityWhen a party of four rough looking birds tossed a pitcher of hot water at him as he danced by, the columnist reported, he pitched into them After beating three of them into insensibility, the fight went into the street, with two taxi drivers coming to the assistance of the surviving member of the original foursome The story portrayed Malin as claiming his right to move openly through the city as a drag queen Still, it ended on a suitably camp note When the fight was over, Malin was said to have had tears in his eyes Yes, he d won the fight, he told another man, but look at the disgraceful state my gown is inProhibition spread rather than eradicated saloon culture, mingled rather than separated gay and straight, bourgeois and prole the post repeal New York State Liquor Authority waseffective in regulating social life, and led the charge in excluding homosexuality from the mainstream entertainment world in which it had become so visible during the 1920s During the next four decades, the SLA revoked the liquor licenses of hundreds of establishments that served or tolerated gatherings of men plainclothes investigators thought gay Liquor licenses were revoked and bars shut down because men were overheard discussing opera, or because a bartender was observed serving a man wearing tight pants The threat of revocation and ruin deputized bar owners and restaurateurs in an anti gay movement, and spooked those who would cultivate a gay clientele The only entity that could afford to pay off police and absorb the costs of frequent closure and relocation was the Mafia, which got into the gay bar business in a big way after WWII The Stonewall was a Mafia owned club but Stonewall seems far distant in Chauncey s history, indeed he will get to it only near the close of his projected second volume My outline of this first volume is muddled and skimpy, and can t possibly suggest the vast human comedy Chauncey has unearthed Harlem s popular and highly developed drag circuit, or the bold pickup subculture worshipfully devoted to policemen, or the deeply discreet gay middle class worlds the subway washrooms, the social world of the baths, the hundreds of heartbreaking arrests, jailings, beatings and bashings, the hilarious correspondence of Parker Tyler Jules, being drunk, camped with them a bunch of straight men too, and they tried to date him even after feeling his muscle he could have laid them all low really it s as wide as this paper. The award winning, field defining history of gay life in New York City in the early to mid th century Gay New York brilliantly shatters the myth that before the s gay life existed only in the closet, where gay men were isolated, invisible, and self hating Drawing on a rich trove of diaries, legal records, and other unpublished documents, George Chauncey constructs a fascinating portrait of a vibrant, cohesive gay world that is not supposed to have existed Called monumental Washington Post , unassailable Boston Globe , brilliant The Nation , and a first rate book of history The New York Times , Gay New Yorkforever changed how we think about the history of gay life in New York City, and beyond Identities are always relational, produced by the ways people affiliate themselves with or differentiate themselves from others and are marked as different by othersp273 I broke some personal reading rules with this book I don t write in my books except my cookbooks , but if you flip through my copy of Gay New York, you ll find notes in the margins and a handful of underlines It s big enough, even as a paperback, that I couldn t reasonably maneuver it and a notebook around my cat, butIdentities are always relational, produced by the ways people affiliate themselves with or differentiate themselves from others and are marked as different by othersp273 I broke some personal reading rules with this book I don t write in my books except my cookbooks , but if you flip through my copy of Gay New York, you ll find notes in the margins and a handful of underlines It s big enough, even as a paperback, that I couldn t reasonably maneuver it and a notebook around my cat, but even if that had been an option I m not sure I would have bothered.Chauncey steamrolls over the idea that gay men before Stonewall lived lives that were isolated, invisible, and self hating Armed with a mountain of research drawn from court dockets, arrest records, vice society records, journals, scrapbooks, newspapers, tabloids, and interviews, he unearths a colorful history smoothed over by post WWII cultural retaliation, making it clear that New York City was home to a complex and sophisticated gay world in the first half of the 20th century.The past is a funhouse mirror, filled with things at once familiar and strange Chauncey opens by cautioning the reader against assuming modern sexual identities can simply be transposed into the past, and spends the first four chapters laying groundwork for male homo sexual practices of the early 20th century From there, he moves on to the development and politics of the gay community in New York City From drag balls to house parties, saloons to bathhouses, Chauncey s history explores the ups and downs of gay life across class boundaries, including the careful double life kept by many middle class gay men.There s too much content to easily summarize, but the drag balls were a particularly interesting highlight Performatively transgressive, these well attended and well publicized events reinforced the existing social order two men might dance together if one was dressed as a woman, or two women if one was dressed as a man Long common in places like Harlem and Greenwich village, they even spilled into Times Square in the 1920s, marking an era of contextual pseudo tolerance that peaked with the Prohibition Era s pansy acts in public cabarets.Chauncey closes with the repeal of the Volstead Act, which ushered in a new era of state regulation and surveillance Vaguely worded alcohol laws provided necessary pretense to shut down establishments found to serve disorderly oft read gay patrons, regardless of behavior or gender expression By the mid 1930s most drag balls had been ended, and in the decades following WWII the cultural shift became a riptide, drowning out the memory of New York s once colorful gay street life The most obvious expressions of sexual or gender nonconformity were driven out of the public eye most surviving gay bars through the 1960s were run by the Mafia A quick search indicates that the Stonewall Inn was one of these Gay culture did not end far from it but its visible expressions were effectively driven from public spaces.Confronted with such a plethora of information, I found myself stopping often to reassess my historical framework In the process of excavating the history of New York City s gay world, Chauncey brings to the reader s attention the great complexity of evolving social, cultural, and sexual norms of the city throughout the first half of the 20th century The push pull tension between different classes, races, and subcultures is vibrantly alive in his analysis.Ironically enough, but perhaps not surprisingly, the best records for his research were kept by anti vice societies such as the Committee of Fourteen, who would send undercover agents to spy on locations and persons suspected of immoral activity including one poor soul whose job it was to stand behind a bathroom grate and observe the occupants.Chauncey is careful never to claim gay life was easy, or even open in the same sense as today, but he categorically rejects the concept of the isolated, invisible, and self hating gay man, and then provides a mountain of evidence to support his objection The world of Gay New York is one of infinite intersectional complexity, deepening, rather than reducing my understanding of the forces that drive urban sociological tensions, both in the past and today.This is not popular nonfiction Chauncey s argument is built on the informational equivalent of bedrock, or perhaps a nuclear bunker, which has the dual effect of rendering it both difficult to counter good , and tiring to read not so good It s fine taken in small doses, but readers should be aware that exhaustive research makes for exhausting reading.There s so much I want to say about this book, but I know I can t do it justice, so instead I ll end with this while I have to knock off a star for readability, this was hands down one of the most thorough and broadly insightful works of nonfiction I ve ever read I can t recommend it highly enough ETA An updated version of this book was published on 04 09 2019 There don t appear to be any major changes or additions, but Chauncey does include a preface that explains the shortcomings of his original publication This preface includes both notes on the political environment in which he was writing and restrospective application of the then nascent field of transgender studies to his research This is a big, big book and haven t nearly read it all It s full of fascinating details that you can just read bits and pieces and be chatting about them for life, like I am Sometimes you don t have to finish a book for it to change things for you The vision of New York as it was in 1890 1940 changed forever how I see the struggle for gay rights.I used to view it as springing suddenly into existence in the 60s on the larger tide of the Civil Rights movement Stonewall marked a key turning poi This is a big, big book and haven t nearly read it all It s full of fascinating details that you can just read bits and pieces and be chatting about them for life, like I am Sometimes you don t have to finish a book for it to change things for you The vision of New York as it was in 1890 1940 changed forever how I see the struggle for gay rights.I used to view it as springing suddenly into existence in the 60s on the larger tide of the Civil Rights movement Stonewall marked a key turning point toopen activism, and then the AIDS crisis in the eighties pushed the movement further and further until we were so out and proud and here and queer that Pride no longer needed to be political and became just onebig circuit party But I digress basically before 1960 EVERYONE had been closeted since ancient Greece, right So not right.This book opened my eyes to the fact that gay people had lived quite openly in New York, among other places, before 1960, and their presence was known and enjoyed by the wider world, if not in the same way as it is today, at least in a way that would have shocked people in the 1950s I mean, tourists went to New York to attend drag balls that would put Hamburger Mary s Bingo Night to shame So instead of 1940 1960 being just an extension of an eternity of secrecy, it was actually a period of backlash and reinvigorated homophobia.This is why, when people tell me not to worry, history is on my side, gay marriage will eventually be legal because we just keep gettingandprogressive all the time, I snap at them Because you just don t know when the tide will turn, and without settled law to protect you, we could end up in paddywagons and concentration camps again, just like before.Try to remember that during the circuit party we call Pride and you can want who you want boys and boys and girls and girls welcome to new york i regret nothingso this review is just going to be random quotes, things i found interesting, and some commentarycontent trigger warnings queerphobia, homophobia, lesbophobia, anti gay violence, misogyny, anti sex work, uncensored use of anti gay slurs derogatory terms, uncensored use of racist slurs, racism, descriptions of queerphobia from police doctors legal professionals, ableist language,coming out the c and you can want who you want boys and boys and girls and girls welcome to new york i regret nothingso this review is just going to be random quotes, things i found interesting, and some commentarycontent trigger warnings queerphobia, homophobia, lesbophobia, anti gay violence, misogyny, anti sex work, uncensored use of anti gay slurs derogatory terms, uncensored use of racist slurs, racism, descriptions of queerphobia from police doctors legal professionals, ableist language,coming out the closet coming out like a lot of campy gay terminology was a play on the language of women s culture referring to debutante balls where girls are introduced, or come out, to society in the 1920s, coming out referred to initiation into the gay world or the process by which someone came to recognize his sexual interest in other men by the 1950s, it referred exclusively to a gay man s first sexual experience with another man by the 1970s, itcommonly referred to announcing one s sexuality to straight loved ones the critical audience to which one came out had shifted from the gay world to the straight world gay people in the prewar years did not speak of coming out of what we call the gay closet but rather of coming out into what they called homosexual society or the gay world, a world neither so small, nor so isolated, nor, often, so hidden as closet implies the closet wasn t used by gay people before the 1960s it doesn t appear in records of the gay movement or in media, diaries, or letters of gay people before then we should pay attention to the different terms people used to describe themselves and their social worlds gay men described living a double life, putting on taking off a mask, wearing their hair up letting their hair down moving between different personas and lives depending on the type of people they were around.terminology few words used by gay men were made up terms that had no meaning in standard english or slang, most gave standard terms a second, gay meaning many were derived from the slang of female prostitutes gay itself referred to female prostitutes before it referred to gay men trade and trick referred to prostitutes customers before they referred to gay men s partners and cruising referred to a streetwalker s search for partners before it referred to a gay man s other terms, such as coming out, burlesqued the rituals of society women men who hated the term fairy and the social category it signified embraced gay as an alternative label, but didn t initiate its usage in gay culture gay originally referred to things pleasurable, then by the seventeenth century came to referspecifically to a life of immoral pleasure and dissipation , by the nineteenth century sex work, gay also referred to something brightly colored or someone showily dressed thus its adoption by fairies and the association with camp in the very different sexual culture that predominated at the turn of the century, fairies, trade, wolves, and punks understood themselves and were regarded by others as fundamentally different kinds of people to classify their behavior and identities using the simple polarities of homosexual and heterosexual would be to misunderstand the complexity of their sexual system, the realities of their lived experiences queer the queer folk of the gay subculture defined themselves by their difference from the dominant culture by the 1910s and 1920s, men who identified themselves as different from other men primarily on the basis of their homosexual interest rather than their womanlike gender status called themselves queer queer wasn t derogatory, it just meant you were different a man active in new york s gay world in the 1920s recalled while some men regretted the supposed aberration in their character that queer denoted, others regarded their difference positively and took pleasure in being different from the norm who wanted to be normal and boring many queers considered f ggot and fairy to bederogatory terms while less visible than the fairies in the streets of new york, queer men constituted the majority of gay identified men in new york in the early decades of the century one man who moved from germany to new york in 1927 remembered fairy and queer being the most common terms used for and by gay new yokers queer men s efforts to forge an identity and cultural stance that distinguishes them from fairies and normal men alike marked the growing differentiation and isolation of sexuality from gender in middle class american culture fairies desire for men was thought to be because of their gender persona, as desire for men was considered an inherently feminine desire, queers maintained that their desire for men revealed only their sexuality, a distinct domain independent of gender part of the appeal of queer for many men was the embodiment of privacy, self restraint, and lack of self disclosure men who identified as fairies intended their style to mark him as gay, whereas men who identified as queer intended their style to deflect such suspicions queer men werelikely to seek out men like themselves than fairies were many middle class queer men blamed anti gay hostility on fairies for failing to abide by straight conventions of decorum in their dress and style, thus antagonizing normal people which is interesting because the appeal of queer to most people is the rejection of assimilation and respectability politics the point is to embrace your difference from the norm , not try to censor yourself to fit into the norm by the late 1940s, younger gay men were chastising older men who still used queer, which the younger men now regarded as demeaning as will finch noted in his diary in 1951, the term gay is taking queer s place i loathe the word, and stick to queer, but am constantly being reproved, especially in so denominating myself some men, especially older ones, continued to prefer queer to gay, in part because of gay s initial association with the fairies younger men found it easier to forget the origins of gay in the campy banter of the very queens whom they wished to reject so gay men and queer men both rejected the fairy but gay men also rejected queer because they found it easier to forget gay s origin with the specific type of queer men they were rejecting association with fairies than to ignore the growing negative connotations of queer with outsiders self identified queer men were so good at developing codes that only fellow queer men within the subculture were intelligible to that doctors at the turn of the century were baffled by their ability to identify each other and talked about it like it was a sixth senseearly 1900s gaydar rise in the late 1800s and early 1900s, terms for gay men from anti gay folks including law enforcement and doctors were degenerate , pervert , sexual pervert , and invert not queer like some people claim was The derogatory term in the 1890s this is specific to new york, so it could be the common term in some places at that time, but to just label it as The Slur, period, is not accurate gender woman stuff many women activists remained devoted to women and unmarried to men legends some interesting stuff about how the conversation about sexuality was centered on gender and gender roles as opposed to attraction, bisexual didn t refer to someone attracted to men and women but rather someone who was both a man and woman, and distinguishing cultural gender from anatomical sex and regarding people as the gender they projected or were perceived as over their sex effeminate gay men were tolerated because they were regarded as women , which meant they were subjected to the same contempt, violence, and sexual exploitation regularly directed against women so participating in the collective sexualization and objectification of women was one of the rituals by which they established themselves as men likefuck women, amiright gotta acknowledge how the homophobia described throughout the book is so completely tied up in misogyny hatred for female sex work misogynistic queerphobes dismissed any woman who wanted to be treated equal to men as hairy, unattractive, man like lesbian predators.how weak so what i ve gathered is that heterosexuality basically became a concept and identity because straight men were so threatened by the existence of gay men and also women standing up for themselvesthey ve always been the weakest link moral reformers and police were so determined to control female sex workers that they threatened hotels into banning women, only to be like wait what when those hotels started to become hotspots for gay men lmaorandom the stonewall rebellion was widely and inaccurately regarded as the beginning of the lgbt movement , as opposed to the catalyst for a new wave of radical militancy in gay politics historians have showed that a political movement preceded stonewall by two decades and had its origins in a gay subculture that expanded during the war please everyone stop saying stonewall was the beginning of the movement we should never presume the absence of something before we have looked for it PREACH queer people need to stop assuming there is no proof of various queer people existing in the community before a certain time when they haven t even bothered to check that shit is in line with non queer folks denying queer history to keep us in the shadows many men alternated between male and female sexual partners without believing that interest in one precluded the other or that they were gay or bi, because they didn t understand or organize their sexual practices on a gay straight axis it would be difficult to argue that they were really homosexualsbut neither could they plausibly be regarded as heterosexualsnor were they bisexualsthey were, rather, men who wereinterested in sexual activity defined not by the gender of their partner stares in modern day pansexual it was accepted and normal for men to kiss and share beds with their male friends, and just, you know, show their love and be free with their affection until such expression of love became suspected to contain an unwholesome gay element..early 1900s no homo anyone ymca stood for why i m so gay among gay men..amazing i have no contact with heterosexual people legend status there s a concerning dismissal about gay predators tbh the author talks about gay men trying to molest men in their sleep and having sexual relationships with minors, but maintains any negative reaction to those gay men were simply due to them being gay gay men turned many restaurants into places where they could gather with gay friends, gossip, ridicule the dominant culture that ridiculed them, and construct an alternative culture so making fun of heteros has always been gay culture greenwich village s reputation as a gay mecca eclipsed harlem s only because it was a white, middle class world the author says straight actors mimicking and ridiculing gay men by putting on shows where they do drag or stereotypical things is the gay equivalent to blackface i detailing queerbaiting and lack of good representation in the early 1900s.and we re still dealing with that shit over a century later..cool cool cool cool I read this for research for a queer historical fiction novel I m writing, and it was interesting Chauncey gives a very detailed, thorough, well researched account of queer meeting places, attitudes and urban culture in New York from the 1800 s till 1940 and even slightly beyond that It was a fascinating social history, although I found parts of it often dragged on or were repeated, I learned a lot and books like this will prove invaluable in my research.I would also like to add that this focu I read this for research for a queer historical fiction novel I m writing, and it was interesting Chauncey gives a very detailed, thorough, well researched account of queer meeting places, attitudes and urban culture in New York from the 1800 s till 1940 and even slightly beyond that It was a fascinating social history, although I found parts of it often dragged on or were repeated, I learned a lot and books like this will prove invaluable in my research.I would also like to add that this focuses purely on queer men, not so much queer women The writer acknowledges that a whole book ought to written about queer women and their respective collective identities in New York City.While I was a little disappointed, I do agree I also really appreciate Chauncey s concerted efforts to dismantle white privilege and how so many people thought they were being progressive in NYC, but were not necessarily, especially when it comes to black creators, performers and singers in the Harlem Renaissance I d happily read his second book This is one of theremarkable history books I ve read in a while It is important both in a scholarly sense and to Americans understanding of their own culture and history Anyone with a brain knows that there were homosexuals in the past, but for Chauncey to dig up that history with such richness, depth, and clarity is a true achievement The basic argument is that a vibrant male gay community formed from the 1890 s to the 1920 s and began to go into the closet only in the 1930 s and 40 s This is one of theremarkable history books I ve read in a while It is important both in a scholarly sense and to Americans understanding of their own culture and history Anyone with a brain knows that there were homosexuals in the past, but for Chauncey to dig up that history with such richness, depth, and clarity is a true achievement The basic argument is that a vibrant male gay community formed from the 1890 s to the 1920 s and began to go into the closet only in the 1930 s and 40 s as part of a conservative backlash This doesn t necessarily mean that everyone was out and tolerated, but gays carved out communities and locations for themselves, mostly in working class neighborhoods, and integrated themselves intomainstream communities They were not isolated from and invisible to the broader culture They did not internalize the negative stereotypes that their society assigned to homosexuals One of the most interesting concepts in the book is that many people thought of gay males, especially theeffeminate fairies as opposed to masculine performing queers as inverted males who either were part woman or wanted to be women They were often labelled the third sex and excluded from normative definitions of heterosexuality or masculinity Hands down the most mind expanding point in the book deals with the binary approach to heterosexuality and homosexuality Obviously there is a fundamentally biological basis to one s attraction to either sex However, the way a society defines gay and straight, or homosexual and heterosexual, changed drastically in the 20th century In general, orientation sexuality as they existed back then were definedby performance of masculinity or femininity rather than the object of sexual desire Therefore, many men could consider themselves and largely be considered masculine and straight even if they had sex with other males as long as they played the male roles in those sex acts There were limits to this toleration, though, and sex with men was often tolerated as a weakness or outlet for release rather than embraced wholeheartedly by straight, masculine men However, if they started to act feminine or queer, that would throw their sexuality and masculinity into question and lead to serious social consequences Over the course of the 20th century, a strict, middle class definition of sexuality on the basis of the object of desire rather than the performance evolved, which is how we understand things today As this new regime took over, ostensibly straight men had far less sex with openly gay men This is one of the strongest arguments for social constructionism of gender, desire, and identity I ve ever encountered I found it highly amusing that Mugwumpy, progressive reformers would build all sorts of public works baths, YMCAs, housing, parks and then get angry when gay men socialized and had sex there In fact, many Progressive attempts to regulate bad behavior, from drinking to female prostitution, just backfired and reinforcedhomosexual behavior For example, the crackdown on female prostitution in the early 20 s just drovemen to male prostitutes because nominally straight men at the time saw fairies as closer to female than male, so having sex with them was just a utilitarian release and not a sign of their homosexuality A huge part of this book was about gays appropriating straight culture for their own purposes Another example was that gays borrowed the term coming out from upper class debutante balls Chauncey points out that coming out mainly meant coming into the gay community, rather than the contemporary notion of coming out to the world.Although it is a bit long, I would definitely assign parts of this book to undergraduate or advanced high school students It is important for people to realize that homosexuals have a history, and that there story is different but not separate from American history as a whole It is also important to realize that they simply existed In a sense, this book is saddening because it shows all the trials, persecution, and mockery homosexuals went through in this period It helps us understand the patterns of sexual behavior that proved so deadly during the AIDS epidemic However, this book is also uplifting and empowering It shows how homosexuals often demanded recognition and respect, how they maneuvered their ways through an often hostile society, how they formed their own communities, and most importantly, how they defined themselves and made their own history I recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone looking for a new take on urban, American, gender, or gay history Chauncey s history 1994 of the gay world of New York in the early twentieth century is encyclopedic He did important original research, unlikely to ever be surpassed, mostly through oral interviews He goes further in synthesizing the data into a convincing theory of the evolution of queer identity from fairies whose sexuality is based on behavior, into gay and straight desire representing the now ubiquitous homosexual heterosexual divide The book easily earns a full 5 stars for this w Chauncey s history 1994 of the gay world of New York in the early twentieth century is encyclopedic He did important original research, unlikely to ever be surpassed, mostly through oral interviews He goes further in synthesizing the data into a convincing theory of the evolution of queer identity from fairies whose sexuality is based on behavior, into gay and straight desire representing the now ubiquitous homosexual heterosexual divide The book easily earns a full 5 stars for this work.The writing, however, is pedantic, as might be expected from a scholarly work His less than gripping text often seems about to veer into welcome, engaged emotional territory, but then pulls back Although this is not a negative for an academic work, some readers will find it to be a slow read Intellectual interest will need to suffice for the missing narrative drive to get to the end.It is possible to make such a historyengaging I greatly recommend Robert Beachy s Gay Berlin Birthplace of a Modern Identity as an example It covers nearly the same time period as Chauncey s, and it s interesting to compare Berlin s evolving gay culture with New York s.Fans of Gay New York will be pleased to know that afterthan twenty years the sequel seems finally to be scheduled for publication in 2016 This book is mentioned several times in the earlier work as covering the period up to Stonewall and beyond, but so far it has not appeared this book is an encyclopedic, hugely informative, and very accessible the fact that it took me two years to find the time to finish it is a reflection of how busy the last two years have been for me, not of the quality of the book aside from being a fascinating and engaging read, it s also a hugely valuable resource just as a reference, for the breadth of sources Chauncey uses, literary, legal, historical, academic, and otherwise.also, like, I hate New York City as much as the next Bostonian, this book is an encyclopedic, hugely informative, and very accessible the fact that it took me two years to find the time to finish it is a reflection of how busy the last two years have been for me, not of the quality of the book aside from being a fascinating and engaging read, it s also a hugely valuable resource just as a reference, for the breadth of sources Chauncey uses, literary, legal, historical, academic, and otherwise.also, like, I hate New York City as much as the next Bostonian, but this book should be, like, baseline required reading if you re a gay guy in the US I was intrigued by this essay since recently some of my preconceptions are starting to fall down and I wanted a book that helped me to rebuild my basis If I think to a hypothetic modern pastor less pre II World War I had the idea the gay culture wasor less underground , or better, completely hidden My idea was that, if you were gay and yes, I know at the time the word gay had a different meaning, but bear with me , you were also probably fated to be unhappily married, or comp I was intrigued by this essay since recently some of my preconceptions are starting to fall down and I wanted a book that helped me to rebuild my basis If I think to a hypothetic modern pastor less pre II World War I had the idea the gay culture wasor less underground , or better, completely hidden My idea was that, if you were gay and yes, I know at the time the word gay had a different meaning, but bear with me , you were also probably fated to be unhappily married, or completely alone some exception were allowed to the very wealthy men that sheltered themselves in some isolated paradise, far from the society eyes and judgement Then I started to read about John Gray March 2, 1866 June 14, 1934 , the man who apparently inspired Oscar Wilde s Dorian Gray, and who,or less, lived happily together with his lover Marc Andr Raffalovich September 11, 1864 February 14, 1934 when John Gray, a catholic priest, went to Edinburgh Marc Andr Raffalovich settled nearby he then helped finance St Peter s Church in Morningside where Gray would serve as priest for the rest of his life And is it a coincidence that John died barely 4 months after Marc Andr Or about Edward Carpenter August 29, 1844 June 28, 1929 , the man who most used the term intermediate sex , referring to those men who were not exactly men, not exactly women, men who were attracted by other men, but usually stronger and masculine men Edward Carpenter was a strong advocate of sexual freedom, living in a gay community near Sheffield, and had a profound influence on both D H Lawrence and E M Forster, so much that they said Forster took inspiration from Carpenter for Maurice and D.H Lawrence for Lady Chatterley s Lover Edward Carpenter had a long lasting relationship with George Merrill 1866 1928 , a working class man also from Sheffield Again, when Merrill suddenly died in January 1928, Carpenter was devastated and 13 months after, he himself died, on Friday 28 June 1929 And what about F.O Matthiessen February 19, 1902 April 1, 1950 , the noted Harward literary historian and critic, who wrote to his lover, the painter Russell Cheney 1881 1945 , we are complex both of us in that we are neither wholly man, woman, or child In another letter he noted, just as there are energetic active women and sensitive delicate men, so also there are men, like us, who appear to be masculine but have a female sex element Both Yale graduate and members of the Skull Bones, Matthiessen was 20 years younger than Cheney, but they died at only 5 years of distance And then there is the story of Glenway Wescott April 11, 1901 February 22, 1987 and his lover Monroe Wheeler February 13, 1899 August 14, 1988 despite apparently having an open relationship, and an on off m nages a trois with fashion photographer and male nude artist George Platt Lynes April 15, 1907 December 6, 1955 , they lived together until old age, hosting one of the most important intellectual saloon in their Greenwich Village apartment Again, when Wescott dies in 1987, Monroe followed soon after 1 year and half later on a sad note, it seems that to Monroe Wheeler was prohibited to live in the country house he had always shared with Glenway truth be told, the house was not of Glenway, but of his brother who had married a wealthy heiress who apparently maintained for all her life both her husband than Glenway and Monroe But other than tidbits about these men, you will read also about the Harlem s drag balls with the quintessentia of Harlem Renaissance poets like Langston Hughes and Richard Bruce Nugent, but also with, among the attendants, Broadway gay celebrities like Beatrice Lillie, Clifton Webb, Jay Brennan and Tallulah Bankhead it s a coincidence that most of these names are almost forgotten I loved black and white movies by Clifton Webb, but those other names were completely new to me It was the chance for me to google about Beatrice Lillie and Tallulah Bankhead, and rediscover these fascinating women On a closing note, even if today there seems to befreedom , popular culture still likes to erase the memory, like in the case of Charles Henri Ford February 10, 1913 September 27, 2002 whose lover Indra Tamang is still today identified as the butler upon her death, Charles Henri Ford s sister, actress Ruth Ford July 7, 1911 August 12, 2009 , according to the newspapers left 2 multimillionaire apartments in New York City plus an art collection n.d.r Charles Henri Ford was the partner of painter Pavel Tchelitchew, until his death in 1957 to her butler who is no one else than Indra Tamang that already in the 70 and 80 was well known as to be Charles Henri Ford devoted partner It s so hard to imagine that she was not leaving an unthinkable generous legacy to a simple partner, but was probably honouring the memory of her late brother Gay New York is maybe a littleacademic than my review is letting you believe, and that is a worth for the essay I suppose But to me, romantic reader, it allowed to have asolid basis to read about the above men and women, and their sometime hidden lives It s a pity they are hidden, since apparently, these men and women were not afraid, at their time, to openly live their love