Besides climbing trees, I spent the afternoon wandering around a kinda hipster-y neighborhood in Baltimore. I say that with some affection, as it reminded me a lot of parts of Boulder. Coffeeshops selling fancy coffee along with books on spiritualism, upcycled clothing boutiques, that sort of thing. I found a nice used bookstore, though, and came away with The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture, by Daniel Harris.
I kind of scoffed at the title when I saw it. It’s kinda definitive. But the book intends to chart the emergence, eventual commercialization, and, it is claimed, assimilation, of male homosexuality into the American public sphere.
It was published in 1997. What little of I’ve read so far has been thought-provoking, although sometimes its decade shows through:
A diverse culture presupposes a nation fractured by the religious and ideological differences that have now given way to a tolerant ecumenicalism and, moreover, one that is splintered into distinct regions, divided by insurmountable geographic distances now easily overcome…
I think Harris overestimates the degree to which American society was homogenizing. 17 years later, looking at the state of politics, I wouldn’t exactly say we are bereft of ideological fractures. But heck, my notion of what tolerance means is probably a hell of lot more luxurious than what Harris he had in mind.
At the very least, it’ll help me brush up on my recent queer history, albeit ( I think) with a focus only on the cisgendered gay male. But I think it’s going to be an interesting read anyway.