Synopses & Reviews
The exhortation to "Go West!" has always had a strong hold on the American imagination. But for the gays, lesbians, and transgendered people who have moved to L.A. over the past two centuries, the City of Angels has offered a special home which, in turn, gave rise to one of the most influential gay cultures in the world.
Drawing upon untouched archives of documents and photographs and over 200 new interviews, Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons chart L.A.'s unique gay history, from the first missionary encounters with Native American cross-gendered "two spirits" to cross-dressing frontier women in search of their fortunes; from the bohemian freedom of early Hollywood to the explosion of gay life during World War II to the underground radicalism sparked by the 1950s blacklist; from the 1960s gay liberation movement to the creation of gay marketing in the 1990s. Faderman and Timmons show how geography, economic opportunity, and a constant influx of new people created a city that was more compatible to gay life than any other in America.
Combining broad historical scope with deftly wrought stories of real people, from the Hollywood sound stage to the barrio, Gay L.A. is American social history at its best.
"This social, political and cultural history of lesbian and gay life in Los Angeles by two seasoned historians is easily the subject's definitive work. Presenting a wealth of fact and analysis, Faderman (Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers) and Timmons (The Trouble with Harry Hay) breeze through the highlights of L.A. gay history. They begin with the suppression of Native Americans' sexual and gender expression by 16th-century Spanish missionaries, before exploring how gender-bending Hollywood stars such as Garbo and Katharine Hepburn shaped popular culture in the 1930s; the emergence of gay public places during the '40s and '50s; and the influence of gay religious groups in the 1970s. While much gay history has centered on white gay men, the authors add important material about the vital role of lesbians and people of color, such as Helen Sandoz and Anne Carll Reid, who worked to bridge the gender gap in 1950s homosexual politics. Although this popular history doesn't strive for academic comprehensiveness, it's filled with illuminating facts such as that gay men rioted and protested for several days after police raided the Black Cat bar in 1967, two years before the Stonewall Riots in New York. 16 pages of b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Full of fascinating anecdotes (including much on Hollywood), wise and fair analysis, and significant and inspiring examples of courageous resistance recaptured from the unwritten histories of the past." Library Journal
"Vital intellectual fare brimming with fascinating history." Kirkus Reviews
"Faderman and Timmons deliver a meticulously researched history of the city to support their claim that Los Angeles is the city with the most influence on the gay movement over the last 200 years." Los Angeles Times
"Compelling....Poignant and moving, full of facts and wonderful details that readers may not have encountered, things that are a pleasure to learn and seem important to know." Francine Prose
Award-winning historian Lillian Faderman teams with journalist Stuart Timmons to write the first history of gay life in America's ultimate frontier town: Los Angeles
About the Author
Lillian Faderman is a professor of English at California State University, Fresno.
Stuart Timmons is a journalist who has written about Christopher Isherwood, Rudi Gernreich, and Elsa Lanchester as well as Harry Hay, the founder of the modern gay movement. He has published in LA Weekly, The Advocate, Frontiers, Vibe, Spin, and other publications. He lives in Los Angeles.