Homosex Changes: Race, Cultural Geography, and the Emergence of the Gay

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Homosexual culture and models of homosexuality in the early 20th century were shaped by urban social developments, modern psychology, and African-American culture. Medicine recognized two types of homosexuals, those who were feminine and took on women's roles (inverts) and men who desired men but still practiced male roles. Much homosexual socialization took place in Harlem speakeasies, dance halls, and black and tans, all urban institutions that were open to both blacks and whites, men and women, and heterosexuals and homosexuals. However, the culture in these clubs was undeniably African American. Jazz music, a central part of the activity in speakeasies, often encouraged sexually explicit activities and contained overtly homosexual and sexual lyrics. Much of this homosexual culture was influenced, not just by sexuality, but by African-American culture.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-414
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1996


  • lesbianism
  • male homosexuality
  • African American culture
  • men
  • speakeasies
  • African Americans
  • queer culture
  • white people


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