City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945-1972

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University of Chicago Press, 2000 - History - 457 pages
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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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City of sisterly and brotherly loves: lesbian and gay Philadelphia, 1945-1972

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The history of sexual minorities has advanced to the point where historians can focus on tight studies of local conditions. Stein's detailed study of lesbian and gay Philadelphia from 1945 to 1972 ... Read full review


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