Indecent Advances: The Hidden History of Murder and Masculinity Before Stonewall

Indecent Advances: The Hidden History of Murder and Masculinity Before Stonewall

A skillful hybrid of true crime and social history that examines how popular culture, the media, and the psychological profession portrayed crimes against gay men in the years leading up to the Stonewall Riots.

In his skillful hybrid of true crime and cultural history, James Polchin provides an important look at how popular culture, the media, and the psychological profession forcefully portrayed gay men as the perpetrators of the same violence they suffered. He traces how the press depicted the murder of men by other men from the end of World War I to the Stonewall era, when gay men came to be seen as a class both historically victimized and increasingly visible.

Indecent Advances tells the story of how homosexuals were criminalized in the popular imagination--from the sex panics of the 1930s, to Kinsey study of male homosexuality of the 1940s, and the Cold War panic of Communists and homosexuals in government. Polchin illustrates the vital role crime stories played in circulating ideas of normalcy and deviancy, and how those stories were used as tools to discriminate and harm the gay men who were observers and victims of crime. More importantly, Polchin shows how this discrimination was ultimately transformed by activists to help shape the burgeoning gay rights movement in the years leading up to Stonewall Riots of 1968.

A cast of noted public figures--Leopold & Loeb, J Edgar Hoover, Alfred Kinsey, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Patricia Highsmith, James Baldwin, and Gore Vidal--is threaded through this complex subject. Politicians, law enforcement officials, and psychologists weigh in to explain the dangerous relationship between homosexuality and violence.

And one needs to look no further than the recent TV series about Andrew Cunanan's murder spree leading up to his shooting of Gianni Versace to ascertain, perhaps, how little things have changed in the policing and reporting of these kinds of crimes against gay men. Polchin's vital history is as important today as it was then.

Title:Indecent Advances: The Hidden History of Murder and Masculinity Before Stonewall
ISBN:9781640091894
Format Type:

    Indecent Advances: The Hidden History of Murder and Masculinity Before Stonewall Reviews

  • Carley Moore

    A must read for lovers of American history, teachers, print scholars, and anyone who is queer or cares about queer people!Polchin uncovers a lost archive through a close-reading of newspaper accounts ...

  • Bob Nadal

    A remarkable and disturbing look at the oppression of homosexuals from WWI through the 60s. James Polchin did an amazing job gathering together the psychiatry, journalism, entertainment and true crime...

  • Corey Ledin-Bristol

    I am sorry to say it but this book was dull. You would think that such a topic would elicit some kind of emotions but the book us written in such a sterile, efficient style it comes across as someone ...

  • Roy

    I am Amazed in Polchin's dedication to telling queer history and including the crimes aganist gay men in a time where LGBTQ rights did not exist to right before stonewall. A must read for those who lo...

  • Eli

    James Polchin’s “Indecent Advances” takes a microscopic look at a subject mired within an American sociopolitical dark age. With a surgeon’s precision, Polchin excises “ripped from the headl...

  • Vette

    I really tried to read this book, but it was so dull. The writing wasn't engaging and it just felt like he was listing cases that could've been attacks on or by gay men but you have to read between th...

  • AJ Burgin

    I really wanted to like this book, and I do, to a certain extent. The central claim is solid, but it feels like a journal article that got teased out into a full-length book. There’s a lot of repeti...

  • Marta

    Before this book, I had not been too familiar with this part of US history, and it was interesting to read about through analysis of related news articles. The tone is meticulously researched, but tha...

  • Ron Turner

    It peters out towards the end, but otherwise it's an interesting look at a forgotten world when homosexuality was criminalized and sensationalized. ...