Pride of Place

The following list of books look at both history and the current moment through the lens of gay populations, viewing how specific cities and regions have been marked by the evolution of the gay experience. From the political machine of Washington D.C. to the sexual experimentation (scientific and otherwise) that propagated in Weimar Berlin, these titles showcase how the gay experience continues to shape the broader culture. 

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Brown and Gay in LA: The Lives of Immigrant Sons

Anthony Christian Ocampo, himself the son of Filipino immigrants, presents both his own story and those of other second-generation gay men of growing up as, often, the only queer person amid a culture that prizes masculinity. Even beyond their own often-complicated family lives, these men also operate in the often-largely white gay scene that populates Los Angeles.  

This title is also available for checkout as an eAudio on Hoopla. 

Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity

Berlin, as seen in Robert Beachy’s far-ranging history, has long been firmly situated as a vanguard of gay stories. The activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs is sometimes credited as the first openly-gay man and the city birthed the Institute for Sexual Science, which performed one of the first ever gender reassignment surgeries. 

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on Libby. 

Queer City: Gay London From the Romans to the Present Day

Viewing the history of London through the gay and lesbian residents that have always lived there, historian Peter Ackroyd is able to delineate the wider evolution that the city has seen throughout its centuries at the epicenter of culture and influence. From the pleasure houses of ancient Rome through the Gay Liberation movement, Queer City places the thrust of gay history at the center of London’s story. 

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on Hoopla. 

Real Queer America: LGBT Stories From Red States

Throughout Real Queer America, transgender writer Samantha Allen vows to do “something gay every day.” It may not seem like that hard of a task if she was ensconced in a major city like New York or Chicago with its concentrations of gay residents. It becomes a bit harder in the Deep South or the Rio Grande Valley. Yet, throughout Allen’s travels, she shows that there is plenty of gay life that is happening well outside metropolitan hubs. 

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on Hoopla. 

Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington

Secrets are nothing new in Washington D.C. However, in James Kirchick’s survey of gay-focused history, which is divided by presidential terms beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and ending with Bill Clinton, the “secret city” comes into a starker and eye-opening focus. Through the vantage of examining gay lives throughout the decades, both ones lived in the open and ones completely hidden, Kirchick presents a history of not just the gay experience, but the meanings and pitfalls of political power. 

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on Libby.