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    Contributors | September 15, 2015

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Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest


Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest Cover

ISBN13: 9780299150846
ISBN10: 0299150844
Condition: Standard
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Vivacious, unconventional, candid, and straight, Helen Branson operated a gay bar in Los Angeles in the 1950s—America’s most anti-gay decade. After years of fending off drunken passes as an entertainer in cocktail bars, this divorced grandmother preferred the wit, variety, and fun she found among homosexual men. Enjoying their companionship and deploring their plight, she gave her gay friends a place to socialize. Though at the time California statutes prohibited homosexuals from gathering in bars, Helen’s place was relaxed, suave, and remarkably safe from police raids and other anti-homosexual hazards. In 1957 she published her extraordinary memoir Gay Bar, the first book by a heterosexual to depict the lives of homosexuals with admiration, respect, and love.

    In this new edition of Gay Bar, Will Fellows interweaves Branson’s chapters with historical perspective provided through his own insightful commentary and excerpts gleaned from letters and essays appearing in gay publications of the period. Also included is the original introduction to the book by maverick 1950s psychiatrist Blanche Baker. The eclectic selection of voices gives the flavor of American life in that extraordinary age of anxiety, revealing how gay men saw themselves and their circumstances, and how others perceived them.

About the Author

Will Fellows is a writer and educator who grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm. He lives in Milwaukee.

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Brandon Reich, January 20, 2007 (view all comments by Brandon Reich)
The variety of experiences of the men in this book being gay growing up or living in rural areas is astounding. Fellows organizes the book into stories of men from before the 1960s, those from the 1960s to 1970s, and those from the 1970s to 1980s. The differences between these eras become evident for the reader, as does the austere differences in experiences between men within each of the eras. As is common for many ethnographical works, the lines between straight and gay are blurred, with sexual and erotic experiences being shared between all kinds of sexualities.

Many of the stories are sad, some are painful, others are joyous and unexpectedly wonderful in the ways the men experience living in their rural environment. It's a testament to the trust these men put in Fellows, as well as his own experiences growing up in a rural area, that he has such a variety of experiences to share. Thanks to him, the reader enjoys an engaging variety of voices, including a few truly closeted ones that might not otherwise get their stories shared.
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Product Details

Fellows, Will
University of Wisconsin Press
Fellows, Will
Fellows, William D.
Fellows, Will
Baker, Blanche M.
Branson, Helen P.
Madison, Wis. :
Farm life
Gay Studies
Specific Groups - Male Gay Studies
Gay men
Farmers -- Middle West -- Case studies.
Rural gay men
General Biography
Biography - General
Edition Number:
Edition Description:
Series Volume:
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32 b/w photos, 8 pencil drawings
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Entertainment and Performing Arts
Biography » General
Gay and Lesbian » Fiction and Poetry » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Gay Studies
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » General

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