13 Best Gay & Lesbian History

List Updated July 2020

Bestselling Gay & Lesbian History in 2020


Becoming Visible : An Illustrated History of Lesbian and Gay Life in Twentieth-Century America

Becoming Visible : An Illustrated History of Lesbian and Gay Life in Twentieth-Century America
BESTSELLER NO. 1 in 2020

Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A., A Documentary and Pioneering Collection of Turbulent Chronicles - A Startling New Perspective on the Nation's Past

Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A., A Documentary and Pioneering Collection of Turbulent Chronicles - A Startling New Perspective on the Nation's Past
BESTSELLER NO. 2 in 2020
  • Used Book in Good Condition

Making Gay History: The Half Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights

Making Gay History: The Half Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights
BESTSELLER NO. 3 in 2020
  • Making Gay History The Half Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights

Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America

Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America
BESTSELLER NO. 4 in 2020
  • Columbia University Press

A Queer History of the United States (ReVisioning American History)

A Queer History of the United States (ReVisioning American History)
BESTSELLER NO. 5 in 2020
  • Beacon Press

Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America (Genre and Beyond: A Film Studies Series)

Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America (Genre and Beyond: A Film Studies Series)
BESTSELLER NO. 6 in 2020
  • Rowman Littlefield Publishers

Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past

Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past
BESTSELLER NO. 7 in 2020

Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians

Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians
BESTSELLER NO. 8 in 2020

Creating a Place For Ourselves: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community Histories

Creating a Place For Ourselves: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community Histories
BESTSELLER NO. 9 in 2020

Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality

Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality
BESTSELLER NO. 10 in 2020

Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights : 1945-1990 : An Oral History

Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights : 1945-1990 : An Oral History
BESTSELLER NO. 11 in 2020

Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, with 21 Activities (For Kids series) by Jerome Pohlen (2015-10-01)

Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, with 21 Activities (For Kids series) by Jerome Pohlen (2015-10-01)
BESTSELLER NO. 12 in 2020

Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II (Vol 1)

Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II (Vol 1)
BESTSELLER NO. 13 in 2020

Gay and Lesbian History Spotlight: Gladys Bentley

An introduction to and brief bio of Gladys Bentley, of the most colorful characters in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history (lgbt history)

Gladys Bentley made no secret of her passion for women during her heyday in the 1920's and 1930's. She sang the blues during the Harlem Renaissance, and Prohibition era speakeasies provided the backdrop for her shows. Bentley's performances highlighted her "unnatural affection" for women as she shamelessly displayed the constant cravings of her lesbian lifestyle. At a time when most homosexuals hid their desires, Gladys Bentley flaunted her lesbian leanings, megaphone style - and she did so with bravado and class, in a top hat and tails.

In an Ebony magazine article, Gladys Bentley once boldly wrote, "It seems I was born different. At least, I always thought so....From the time I can remember anything, I never wanted a man to touch me...Soon I began to feel more comfortable in boys clothes than in dresses."

The Clam House in Harlem is one of the most popular "underground" gay and lesbian clubs in American History. At The Clam House, Bentley belted out popular songs of the day with a rich, growling voice, and she put a homosexual twist on the lyrics to suit herself and her audience. At one point, Langston Hughes, a Clam House regular, referred to Bentley as "An amazing exhibition of musical energy."

The Harlem Renaissance provided a safe haven for many popular figures in gay and lesbian history. On any given night, one could find the likes of Bessie Smith or Tallulah Bankhead up front and in center amongst the colorful theater crowd (along with Langston Hughes). When the Renaissance era began to fade, and prohibition ended, Gladys Bentley, like many others, headed for the sunny shores of the pacific coast.

Once she was in California, Gladys Bentley rode her fame until the 1940's. Then came the McCarthy era, a time when America's second famous "witch hunt" made it even more impossible to walk outside of the straight and narrow. In response to the constant danger of "the wrong people" catching wind of her sexual orientation, the 250-pound woman began to don feminine clothing, and eventually, she married a man, and claimed that Christianity had saved her from her sinful lesbian ways.

Gladys Bentley died in a flu epidemic in 1960; but during her time amongst the living, she made a huge contribution to the rich culture of gay and lesbian history, black history, and American History overall.

Duberman, Martin B. Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, New York: Penguin,1990.

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