Work of the Fellows: Monographs

Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement

Johnson, David K. (Fellow, 2014-15)

New York: Columbia University Press, 2021

Johnson Buying Gay

From the publisher's description:

Offering a vivid look into the lives of physique entrepreneurs and their customers, and presenting a wealth of illustrations, Buying Gay explores the connections—and tensions—between the market and the movement. With circulation rates many times higher than the openly political “homophile” magazines, physique magazines were the largest gay media outlets of their time. This network of producers and consumers helped foster a gay community and upend censorship laws, paving the way for open expression. Physique entrepreneurs were at the center of legal struggles, especially against the U.S. Post Office, including the court victory that allowed full-frontal male nudity and open homoeroticism. Buying Gay reconceives the history of the gay rights movement and shows how consumer culture helped create community and a site for resistance.


Subjects: History; Gender and Sexuality; Activism; Consumerism; LGBTQ People; Publishing; Social History