Masked Voices

Gay Men and Lesbians in Cold War America

By Craig M. Loftin

Subjects: Lesbian / Gay Studies, Queer Studies, Social And Cultural History, Radical History
Series: SUNY series in Queer Politics and Cultures
Paperback : 9781438440149, 324 pages, April 2012
Hardcover : 9781438440156, 324 pages, April 2012

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Copyright and Permissions
1. ONE Magazine and Its Readers
2. Newsstand Encounters: ONE Magazine’s Volunteer Agents and Public Visibility
3. Imagining a Gay World: The American Homophile Movement in Global Perspective
4. ONE Magazine Letter Archetypes
5. “Branded Like a Horse”: Homosexuality, the Military, and Work
6. Classroom Anxieties: Educators and Homosexuality
7. Family Anxieties: Parent and Family Responses to Homosexual Disclosures
8. Homosexuals and Marriage under the Shadow of McCarthy
9. “I shall always cherish Sunday”
10. Unacceptable Mannerisms: Gender, Sexuality, and Swish in Postwar America
Sources and Bibliography

An analysis of unpublished letters to the first American gay magazine reveals the agency, adaptation, and resistance occurring in the gay community during the McCarthy era.


Finalist for the 2013 Over the Rainbow Selection presented by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association

In this compelling social history, Craig M. Loftin describes how gay people in the United States experienced the 1950s and early 1960s, a time when rapidly growing gay and lesbian subcultures suffered widespread discrimination. The book is based on a remarkable and unique historical source: letters written to ONE magazine, the first openly gay publication in the United States. These letters, most of which have never before been published, provide extraordinary insight into the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of gay men and lesbians nationwide, especially as they coped with the anxieties of the McCarthy era. The letters reveal how gay people dealt with issues highly relevant to LGBT life today, including job discrimination, police harassment, marriage, homophobia in families, and persecution in churches and the military. Loftin shows that gay men and lesbians responded to intolerance and bigotry with resilience, creativity, and an invigorated belief in their right to live their lives as gay men and lesbians long before this was accepted and considered safe. Groundbreaking chapters address gay marriage and family life, international gay activism, and how antigay federal government policies reverberated throughout the country.

Craig M. Loftin is Lecturer in American Studies at California State University, Fullerton.


"[a] remarkable book … about gay and lesbian life in the 1950s and '60s." — Los Angeles Times

"The book's interest and value comes through the letters, which present a close-up, personal view of gay life following WWII." — CHOICE

"The letters to ONE are terrific, providing a valuable sense of the concerns and perspectives of gay men and lesbians who might be considered rank-and-file homophiles. The book illustrates how people sometimes minimally engaged with the movement negotiated the postwar period and made a difference." — Leila J. Rupp, author of Sapphistries: A Global History of Love between Wome