A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall
Blends true crime, cultural history, queer history, and propulsive narrative nonfiction to publish in time for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (June 2019)
A debut for fans of the podcasts "My Favorite Murder" or Malcolm Gladwell's "Revisionist History"
The book documents the media coverage of forgotten crimes involving queer men between World War I and the Cold War. In recovering a host of accounts of men found stabbed, shot, or assaulted in hotel rooms, apartments, public parks, and subway bathroom stalls, the book demonstrates how crime newspaper stories were part of a larger constellation of cultural values, journalistic standards, and political trends. From sensationalized front-page murders to more minor stories of assaults, Indecent Advances illuminates how queer crimes were viewed by the media, psychologists, criminologists, and writers within the era.
In telling 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, the book illustrates the vital role crime stories played in circulating ideas of normalcy and deviancy, and, importantly, how they also helped shape a burgeoning gay rights movement in the years leading up to Stonewall.
The author originally had the idea for this book decades ago, but it was only as newspaper archives became widely digitalized did the scope of the project become possible. What seemed like a small cluster of crime stories in big city newspapers, transformed into an ever-growing archive of murders and assaults with a disturbing and dizzying effect.