John's Reviews > Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940

Gay New York by George Chauncey
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Oct 29, 10

Read in October, 2010

Really fascinating, an analysis of gay culture in New York in the early part of the century, showing how much more prominent it was than we would think today. Chauncey has all kinds of interesting sources, and really does a great job of arguing his thesis that the 'closet' that gay culture came out of in the 70s was created by society in the 30s and 40s as a crackdown on a visible, vibrant gay culture that existed in the 20s and early 30s. Basically he's saying that societal views of sexuality have changed over time, and our current view of a sharp homosexual vs. heterosexual divide evolved only a few decades ago. This makes this book sound more boring than it is though; there are all kinds of interesting stories, anecdotes, interviews...the book is a really compelling read.
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