Book Excerpt! Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement

This deeply researched book expands our understanding of pre-Stonewall gay male activism by describing a bold group of physique photographers, magazine publishers, and booksellers who were more militant than the Mattachine Society and built a far larger constituency through their explicit portrayal and defense of homoerotic desire. A revelatory and compelling history.

~ George Chauncey, author of Gay New York

Today we celebrate the work of CUP author David K. Johnson and his most recent work, Buying Gay, How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement. In this book, David K. Johnson shows how gay commerce was not a byproduct but rather an important catalyst for the gay rights movement. Offering a vivid look into the lives of physique entrepreneurs and their customers, and presenting a wealth of illustrations, Buying Gay explores the connections—and tensions—between the market and the movement. Buying Gay reconceives the history of the gay rights movement and shows how consumer culture helped create community and a site for resistance.

Johnson’s 2004 book, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, (published by the University of Chicago Press) was the basis for the PBS special The Lavender Scare which aired June 18th, 2019. The documentary focuses on the decades-long effort to identify and fire federal employees for being gay, and is narrated by Glenn Close, Cynthia Nixon, Zachary Quinto, T. R. Knight and David Hyde Pierce.



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