“Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940” by George Chauncey

It’s sometimes frustrating to me that gay history pre-Stonewall is routinely treated as less relevant than the decades after the riots set forth a nearly linear surge of progression. So reading George Chauncey’s exhaustive documentation of how gay people forged a culture in New York before World War II was riveting. Chauncey details the secret enclaves that let them revel in pace, the imperceptible cues (such as asking for a cigarette) that sent signals to prospective lovers, and the general blurriness of sexual orientation at the time.

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