Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gay LA

Tonight, I  hosted an event with Lillian Faderman. She is the author of numerous books, including most recently Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians. Its a fascinating history of gay & lesbian life in Los Angeles.
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. 
Naturally, the film world and Hollywood figure in this account. (The section called "The Silent Era" contains a chapter titled "Going Hollywood.) During her fascinating talk, Faderman mentioned that she had researched parts of her book at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. She also discussed Marlene Dietrich & Tallulah Bankhead, and mentioned Greta Garbo. All of whom figure in the book. Louise Brooks is referenced in Gay LA, as is Bruz Fletcher, the gay singer whose night club Brooks frequented.

If you are at all interested, check out Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians. It looks like a great work of social history. (And Dietrich appears on the cover.)

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