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Gay Bar: The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the… (1957)

de Will Fellows

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Vivacious, unconventional, candid, and straight, Helen Branson operated a gay bar in Los Angeles in the 1950s--America's most anti-gay decade. After years of fending off drunken passes as an entertainer in cocktail bars, this divorced grandmother preferred the wit, variety, and fun she found among homosexual men. Enjoying their companionship and deploring their plight, she gave her gay friends a place to socialize. Though at the time California statutes prohibited homosexuals from gathering in bars, Helen's place was relaxed, suave, and remarkably safe from police raids and other anti-homosexual hazards. In 1957 she published her extraordinary memoir Gay Bar, the first book by a heterosexual to depict the lives of homosexuals with admiration, respect, and love.     In this new edition of Gay Bar, Will Fellows interweaves Branson's chapters with historical perspective provided through his own insightful commentary and excerpts gleaned from letters and essays appearing in gay publications of the period. Also included is the original introduction to the book by maverick 1950s psychiatrist Blanche Baker. The eclectic selection of voices gives the flavor of American life in that extraordinary age of anxiety, revealing how gay men saw themselves and their circumstances, and how others perceived them. Outstanding Book, selected by the Public Library Association Best Books for High Schools, selected by the American Association of School Libraries… (més)
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Gay bar : the fabulous, true story of a daring woman and her boys in the 1950s by Will Fellows is a perfect companion to Secret Historian by Justin Spring. Gay Bar, originally published in 1957 by Helen Branson is the story of the bar she owned in Los Angeles in the 1950s. Fellows intersperses his history of gay life in the 1950s in between the chapters of Branson's original book. It's a great combination and very interesting depiction of life and the gay community during the conformist 50s when gays were barred from holding federal government jobs and sometimes jailed for gathering in places like Hanson's bar.

The book has an extensive bibliography and Fellows draws heavily from the Mattachine Review and One, two gay magazines published during the time. I didn't know much about either of these pubs and Gay Bar provided a good insight into the editorial positions of these magazines. ( )
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Vivacious, unconventional, candid, and straight, Helen Branson operated a gay bar in Los Angeles in the 1950s--America's most anti-gay decade. After years of fending off drunken passes as an entertainer in cocktail bars, this divorced grandmother preferred the wit, variety, and fun she found among homosexual men. Enjoying their companionship and deploring their plight, she gave her gay friends a place to socialize. Though at the time California statutes prohibited homosexuals from gathering in bars, Helen's place was relaxed, suave, and remarkably safe from police raids and other anti-homosexual hazards. In 1957 she published her extraordinary memoir Gay Bar, the first book by a heterosexual to depict the lives of homosexuals with admiration, respect, and love.     In this new edition of Gay Bar, Will Fellows interweaves Branson's chapters with historical perspective provided through his own insightful commentary and excerpts gleaned from letters and essays appearing in gay publications of the period. Also included is the original introduction to the book by maverick 1950s psychiatrist Blanche Baker. The eclectic selection of voices gives the flavor of American life in that extraordinary age of anxiety, revealing how gay men saw themselves and their circumstances, and how others perceived them. Outstanding Book, selected by the Public Library Association Best Books for High Schools, selected by the American Association of School Libraries

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