In this pathbreaking history, Marc Stein takes an in-depth look at Philadelphia from the 1940s to the 1970s. What he finds is a city of vibrant gay and lesbian households, neighborhoods, commercial establishments, public cultures, and political groups. In doing so, Stein shatters the myth that lesbian and gay history began with the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City and challenges the notion that only New York and San Francisco featured major lesbian and gay communities in the pre-Stonewall era.
Stein takes us on a tour through Philadelphia's bars, restaurants, bookstores, bathhouses, movie theaters, parks, and parades where lesbian and gay cultures thrived.
We learn about the scientific experts, religious leaders, public officials, and journalists who attacked and ignored same-sex sexualities. And we read about the courageous people who fought back with strategies of everyday resistance and organized political activism.
Stein argues against the idea that a conspiracy of silence surrounded gays and lesbians in the 1940s and 1950s. He shows that same-sex sexualities were regularly discussed in controversies concerning the tennis player Big Bill Tilden, the Walt Whitman Bridge, sex murders and crimes, and police raids. Philadelphians became national leaders in the gay and lesbian movement. They conducted sit-ins at Dewey's restaurant, organized pickets at Independence Hall, edited the movement's most widely circulated publications the Ladder and Drum, and pursued court cases all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Beautifully crafted and exceptionally well-written, Stein's book not only provides a new starting place for thinking about lesbian and gay history but also challenges readers to rethink twentieth-century urban history.
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A path-breaking history of the vibrant Philadelphia lesbian and gay communityFrom the Inside Flap:
"Important and provocative, this book persuasively demonstrates that lesbian and gay history is central to understanding twentieth-century urban culture. And it rejects mere celebration for a more profound scrutiny that balances liberal against conservative aspects of the historical challenge to heterosexism."
—Martin Duberman, author of Stonewall
"By leaving behind the gay meccas of New York and San Francisco and training his gaze on Philadelphia, Stein has produced a gay and lesbian history that startles and informs."
—John D'Emilio, author of Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities
"Eye-opening, often entertaining....Filled with colorful anecdotes and fun facts....Let's think of what Marc Stein has done as an act of public service to Philadelphia's gay community."
—Kevin Riordan, Philadelphia Gay News
"Philadelphians should be proud of the courage and creativity with which their lesbian and gay fellow citizens coped with and fought oppression in the Cradle of Liberty, and Stein can clearly be proud of his pioneering book."
—Doug Ireland, Philadelphia Inquirer
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