“Some glad day there shall be a body of knowledge which would…show that homosexuals…have much in common.”
-Harry Hay Mattachine meeting notes, 1951

Click any book to learn more!

Behind the mask of the mattachine 

James Sears's detailed book on the creation of the Mattachine Foundation and its transition into assimilationist activism as the Mattachine Society.


Decades after J. Edgar Hoover's 99 cubic foot Sex Deviates file was destroyed in 1977 and 1978, Douglas M. Charles reassembles the story of the creation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and their rise to power and credibility, often using the queer population as scapegoats.


Using Cold War paranoia, McCarthy's conflation of homosexuals and criminals caused mass firings of gays in the State Department that catalyzed national panics in fear of homosexuals. David K. Johnson's research shows that the Lavender Scare's employee purge harmed far more people than the Red Scare. But due to the still-lasting effects of homophobia created by the panic, the story often goes overlooked.


The City And the Pillar

Gay American History

Referenced in our episode 2, Carpenter's work let Harry Hay know that his fantasized homosexuality could be a reality.

Discussed in our first episode, Gore Vidal's 1948 novel is about a young man's discovery of his homosexuality.

Unlike the post-WWII "anti-homosexual propaganda" read for filth by Henry Gerber in Chanticleer, this was the first new gay novel that didn't kill off the queer protagonist at the end. Though, the 1965 revision by Vidal (which is what is generally printed today) has a quite different ending than the original version.

Jonathan Katz's collection of historical documents in gay American history from European settlement until the book's publication in 1976.

The Other Side of Silence

John Loughery's study of gay male history covering the United States since World War I, based on hundreds of interviews, this book is the first narrative history to consider the multiple meanings of "gay identity" in the whole United States from World War I to the AIDS era and queer activism.

The Trouble With Harry Hay

A deep-dive biography of the Mattachine and Radical Faerie founder, by Stuart Timmons.

Before Stonewall

Bullough's book is packed with concise biographies of dozens of our movement's early leaders.

Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco

Nan Alamilla Boyd traces the history of gay men and lesbians in San Francisco from the turn of the century, when queer bars emerged in San Francisco's tourist districts, to 1965, when a raid on a drag ball changed the course of queer history. Using police and court records, oral histories, tourist literature, and manuscript collections from local and state archives to follow the bar scene and homophile activism, she argues that the communities forged inside bars and taverns functioned politically and, ultimately, offered practical and ideological responses to the policing of San Francisco's queer and transgender communities.

Making Trouble

Radical historial John D'Emilio's collection of personal and political essays on the rise of gay scholarship in the U.S. Topics include the birth of gay identity in post WWII American, feminism in the movement, gender identity and sexuality, and queer behavior vs. queer identity. He calls for us "to embark on new journeys of sexual definition."

Conduct Unbecoming

Written by And the Band Played On author Randy Shilts, this investigative exploration of gays in the military and gay persecution in the military covers interviews with hundreds of lesbian and gays in all levels of the military and tells their stories of pain and pride with an attention to detail and depth of emotion.

Radically Gay

A collection of the words and speeches of the founder of the Mattachine and the modern gay movement.

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