“It’s OK to Be Gay”: The History of Gay Denver. Volume One: The Gay Social Construct

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“It’s OK to Be Gay”: The History of Gay Denver. Volume One: The Gay Social Construct
Series Title:
“It’s OK to Be Gay”: The History of Gay Denver. Volume One: The Gay Social Construct
Moore, Keith L.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
Publication Date:

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|Auraria Library
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Its OK to Be Gay: The History of Gay Denver. Volume One: The Gay Social Construct | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/7/2015 3:43:05 PM] Home Its OK to Be Gay: The History of Gay Denver. Volume One: The Gay Social ConstructIts OK to Be Gay: The History of Gay Denver. Volume One: The Gay Social ConstructSubmitted by nwharton on 11-18-2013 06:14 AMAuthor: Brent D. Everett Publishing: Private Publisher: Denver, CO, 2013. Reviewer: Keith L. Moore Reviewer Affiliation: University of Colorado Denver Hidden among the rich cultural history of Denver, Colorado, as rooted in the mining boom of the nineteenth century, is a story still untold about some of its rough-and-tumble inhabitantsthe gay and lesbian community. Its OK to Be Gay: The History of Gay Denver, is author Brent D. Everetts attempt to affix Denver to the burgeoning field of regionally specific studies of queer history as the framework for larger sociological interpretations of both politics and culture. Everett claims the construction of the gay community in Denver helped fashion the history of the West, due to contributions by queer individuals leading successful homosexual and transgender lives. The History of Gay Denver situates the homosexual culture of the American West within the larger context of what the author terms a universal Gay Culture, attempting to discuss how same-sex relationships whether they be intimate or nothelped transform the West as a historical entity. Everett claims: Although people of gay culture have influenced, and inspired humanity throughout the ages, their contributions as members of one distinct culture have never been truly explored.(5) The author makes an effort to establish a connection between men and women who identify as homosexual within the larger contexts of their contributions as historical subjects, but by and large he ignores the discussion of how they operated within the social constraints of conformity. Everetts first volume stretches from a discussion of Native American Two Spirit People to the mid 1970s, ending with a brief discussion of the Stonewall riots in New York and their impact upon the gay community in Denver. Aside from a few interesting anecdotes regarding successful transgender-identified or homosexual persons, the author draws upon few primary sources to conduct his research. The result is a manuscript consisting of summaries from other works blended in an awkwardly phrased fashion. Subsequently, the reader is left with a one-dimensional if not superficial understanding of the social construction and emergence of Denvers gay community. Everett disregards some of the most important influences of queer history, such as Nan Alamilla Boyd, Marc Stein, Allan Brub, Margot Canaday, Lillian Faderman, and David Johnson, only to name a few. Everetts understanding of the social construct of the queer community is far more complex than he demonstrates within his publication. Amidst superfluous grammar and stylistic errors, the author fails at producing an adequate professional addition to the field of queer history. Ignoring the excessive blunders and awkward phrasing, a tremendously problematic feature is the authors continual conflation of sexual and gender identity. Within EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanIn 1893, Colorado became the first state in the union to allow women the right to vote through popular election.


Its OK to Be Gay: The History of Gay Denver. Volume One: The Gay Social Construct | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/7/2015 3:43:05 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us his discussion of Native American Two Spirit People, for example, Everett states, Just as people of Gay Culture would one day find the courage to define themselves by their own terms, Native American gays and lesbians [sic] found the courage to define themselves as Two Spirit People.(30) Everett simplifies the construction of gender and sexuality into one specific entity. While Two Spirit People may have embraced the opposite sex as their primary gender expression, it does not necessarily mean they would, or did, identify as homosexual. Everett fails to recognize the intricate nature of sexual acts versus sexual identity, thus diminishing his capacity to analyze its effects on gay culture in and around Denver. While his use of secondary works is seemingly adequate, Everett excludes new and foundational contributions to the field of queer history that would benefit his examination of the transient populations during the 1930s and the impact of World War II upon the gay community. Lacking in any true analytical or historical inquiry, Everett creates a less than satisfactory and shallow interpretation of Colorados queer narrative. The author ignores any attempt to reconcile the history of Denvers gay community with other urban or rural areas, subsequently missing crucial thematic similarities between Denver and other communities necessary for a discussion regarding the social construct of homosexuality. Everetts discussion tends to lean more towards a simple summary of homosexuality in the West, as opposed to a construction of the gay community in Denver as his title suggests. While the use of a few interesting accounts of individuals in the West who successfully led their lives as the opposite sex, or successfully had a same-sex relationship, the discussion of their impact on a universal gay cultureas the author intendssimply falls short of its intended ambition. One would hope that in future volumes, the author takes care to include more thorough and analytical discussions regarding the construction of gay culture. Reviewer Info: Keith L. Moore is currently an MA student at the University of Colorado Denver. His research includes twentieth-century American military, foreign, and domestic policy as well as women, gender, sexuality, and queer history. Much of his work examines the social construction of masculinity, heteronormativity, and sexual/gender identity regarding queer individuals. He is currently finishing his thesis regarding queer history within and around Denver and the treatment of homosexuality in Colorado.