Jul 14, Aaron rated it really liked it. I ran across this one on the shelf at work, and it seemed like it would be interesting. This is actually a reprint of a book with additional content added. The original book was also called "Gay Bar" and was written by Helen Branson, the straight owner of a gay bar called Windup on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in the s. The book, originally published ONE an aspect of the Mattachine Society , presents her views on homosexuality. One of the really interesting things she highlighted was that s I ran across this one on the shelf at work, and it seemed like it would be interesting.
One of the really interesting things she highlighted was that she preferred to call gay men homophiles rather than homosexuals because she thought they were defined by more than just their sexual activities. She also believe that it was important for both the men and their families to accept that being gay was normal and should just be accepted by all, rather than trying to fix the condition, which she didn't think ever turned out well.
Gay Bar: The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s
One of the horrifying things to me was that Helen. She would purposely be rue to them when they entered her bar. Apparently, this was because she thought they were a danger to her establishment. At the time, the California Supreme Court had ruled that gay bars were technically illegal. The local police, though, did not target Helen's bar because she kept her establishment clean of sex and not obviously gay. While a practical approach for the time, I find it so hurtful.
The feminine nature is just as innate as the gayness she was professing was normal.
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Outside of that, Helen was definitely a protective mother hen, which was on the cover of the original printing of the book, for her boys. She genuinely enjoyed spending time with gay men, thus her ownership of the bar, and she often provided an ear, some advice, and a safe space for them. It sounded like her bar effectively became a home for the regulars. Between the original chapters, Will Fellows provides academic research to support what Helen was saying in the past. This included more information about who she was as a person as well as more information about the views of gays at the time, views of sex and sexuality of the time, and historical information about the gay movement.
The result was a really clear view of what it must have been like to be a gay man during the latter s. It was not easy, but it was also not impossible to be happy. Many of the boys Helen knew "married" and lived good lives as a couple. At the same time, there was a constant fear of what would happen if the basis of their love and happiness were to become known by their bosses, the public, and their families.
It was very touching.
Mar 11, Gina rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction , memoir , queer. Purely on its merits as an important piece of non-fiction literary history it was worth the read.
I would especially recommend to anyone, like me, interested in the history of gay LA. Branson's brief, original work is a disorganized account of life with "[her] boys. For readers who bristle at Branson's harsh commentary about "swishy" gay men, it is important to position these attitudes within the historical period in which they were written; this is where Fellows' modern commentaries come in handy.
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Any behaviors e. Interestingly, Branson, a nonconformist herself, was quite progressive for the time period, despite being just as entangled in s traditional values than I suspect she would have ever identified in herself or admitted. One thing is clear from this brief work- Helen Branson, who never claimed to be a "a writer" a fact that shows - took the time to publish a document "exposing" her support of gay men in a very public way. Jul 04, Caroline rated it it was ok. I want so hard to give this a glorious review.
The original book is so short that it is practically a pamphlet and the supporting material is some interesting history liberally padded with quotes from the gay journals of the time. Apr 23, Matty Lapointe-Smith rated it liked it. Helen Branson's book from the late 50's about the gay bar she ran in Los Angeles has some fun and thoughtful if not particularly revelationary to anyone who's up on their gay history stories and observations. This publication includes essays from college professor Will Fellows which are supposed to provide context and further meditations on the themes she writes about on a chapter by chapter basis.
Helen's writing is fairly simplistic; which I wouldn't consider a problem but for the fact that Helen Branson's book from the late 50's about the gay bar she ran in Los Angeles has some fun and thoughtful if not particularly revelationary to anyone who's up on their gay history stories and observations.
Helen's writing is fairly simplistic; which I wouldn't consider a problem but for the fact that each chapter, while definitely themed and geared toward one specific point why she doesn't let flaming queens into her bar, her "boy's" relationships with their mothers, etc , kind of rambles on, talking about this guy for two paragraphs and then this other guy for three more. It definitely plays as if she's talking to you like an old friend, but I missed the ability to ask her further questions about each character before she moved on to the next.
Fellows' essays are well researched and at times have some great quotes from the few gay periodicals of the time, but unfortunately quite often just read as what they are: essays on queer theory. The primary point of excitement in his writing comes from particular quotes here and there.
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Ironically, one quote from a reader of the gay magazine ONE where he asks for a bit more liveliness in their coverage of gay life at the times rings true to me as a reader of Fellows' essays: " Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. Download Hi Res. The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first.
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