What I loved about this book were the stories it tells about figures that might otherwise be forgotten, like a dancer from 1920's Harlem who gets her start dancing in the turn of the century Coney Island and the many sailors who found free sexual exploration in the seedy bars of the Brooklyn waterfront. Through these stories the reader not only gets a history of how queer people found each other and came to understand themselves, but also a history of a rapidly changing borough.— Ben
The never-before-told story of Brooklyn's vibrant and forgotten queer history, from the mid-1850s up to the present day
Hugh Ryan's When Brooklyn Was Queer is a groundbreaking exploration of the LGBT history of Brooklyn, from the early days of Walt Whitman in the 1850s up through the queer women who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II, and beyond. No other book, movie, or exhibition has ever told this sweeping story. Not only has Brooklyn always lived in the shadow of queer Manhattan neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and Harlem, but there has also been a systematic erasure of its queer history-a great forgetting.
Ryan is here to unearth that history for the first time. In intimate, evocative, moving prose he discusses in new light the fundamental questions of what history is, who tells it, and how we can only make sense of ourselves through its retelling; and shows how the formation of the Brooklyn we know today is inextricably linked to the stories of the incredible people who created its diverse neighborhoods and cultures. Through them, When Brooklyn Was Queer brings Brooklyn's queer past to life, and claims its place as a modern classic.