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Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  127 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Wide-Open Town traces the history of gay men and lesbians in San Francisco from the turn of the century, when queer bars emerged in San Francisco's tourist districts, to 1965, when a raid on a drag ball changed the course of queer history. Bringing to life the striking personalities and vibrant milieu that fueled this era, Nan Alamilla Boyd examines the culture that develo ...more
Paperback, 334 pages
Published April 13th 2005 by University of California Press (first published March 1st 2003)
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Dec 01, 2007 rated it it was ok
What I learned: is that I'm going to hire a copy-editor to give my diss the once-over before letting anyone publish it. It's chock full of interesting facts, and I like her way of introducing chapters with an extended interview exerpt that gets at the time, and I have no problem with the way she wants to privilege bar-patron culture (although I wish she'd made the class issue between bar patrons and activists more explicit).

However, the book is a mess. The same evidential annecdotes are used ov
Evan Ash
Jun 07, 2021 added it
Shelves: comps
Love a book where the author mentions in the conclusion that they were actually arguing something that they never mentioned before!
John Ferreira
I enjoyed this book. It was a lighter read than I would have expected. I feared it would have been too academic to enjoy. Although not full of antidotes, it does have some personal histories before each chapter, and some sprinkled in the different chapters. It focuses mainly on lesbian life in San Francisco from the early part of the 20th Century to 1965. Although there are mentions of bars and organizations that gay men frequented, went to, and were a part of. I live in San Francisco, so it was ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read this book on the tails of Chauncey's Gay New York (also an interesting book), and the two really complimented each other. Boyd's book picks up the narrative of the Gay and Lesbian Rights movement in the U.S. at the dawn of the twentieth century and goes up to the opening years of the 1960s, years which saw incredible gains in the rights of Gays and Lesbians before New York City experienced the awakening of Stonewall. It is the comparison between New York City, whose events in the rights m ...more
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq
As usual, I finished this book a long time ago and forgot to review it...

I liked this book. It's full of stories of people who lived queer lives well before Stonewall, well before I came out (in 1973). I'd recommend it to LGBT people and allies who are interested in what things were like "back then". So many of those chronicled in this book have died. We need to know and appreciate their stories and what they did to create the world that is changing for the better so rapidly today.
Whitney Borup
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A history of the emergence of the gay community in San Francisco. She talks about the differences between gay bar culture and homophile political movements and where/when they merge. I love that city.
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Professional historians always get really excited about the way Nan Boyd uses oral history in this book. Anybody interested in historical methods will certainly get excited about this. But unlike most books that excite professional historians, this one speaks to pretty much everyone.
Jun 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Well-researched book that shows the interdependence of bar culture and homophile groups in laying the groundwork for a gay rights movement based on civil rights.
Frank Butterfield
Bought this book for research. Absolutely love the stories, the details, and the footnotes! But, I would read this book even if it weren't for research. ...more
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