The Gay Metropolis: 1940-1996

The metropolis is New York, the subject is the emergence of a large and cohesive gay and lesbian community there after World War II, and the method is mostly oral history. Charles Kaiser’s The Gay Metropolis: 1940-1996 persuasively stresses the dislocating effect that the war had on American life, producing a gay migration to New York and giving the community a kind of subterranean momentum that gradually overcame legal and psychiatric bigotry and culminated in the Stonewall Riot of 1969. By bringing together a wide range of reminiscing and contending voices, Kaiser is able to raise questions about the problematic character of a gay subculture and of gay identity, all of them sharpened by the AIDS crisis of the ’80s and ’90s, thus giving us a real, thorny, messy history, not a triumphalist tract. A-

The Gay Metropolis: 1940-1996
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