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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mr. Queen... Who Knew?

We've written many times about what it was like for closeted gay men of the 1950's and 60's to try to find their own images in the mainstream culture. We've written about the popularity of the
"gladiator movies" and "physique magazines" of the era and how the images on display in those films and publications were the often the closest things that gay men got to seeing erotic images which interested them. But until now, we've completely forgotten to mention that while there weren't a lot of sexual images available to gay men in decades past, there were certainly a lot of dime store, pulp novels which tried to fill in the gaps, and left little to the imagination.
It's great fun to read these novels; the writing style and the ingrained notions about homosexuality, even by the writers themselves, are almost laughable by today's standards. But it's also great fun just to see the suggestive, tawdry art work which graced the covers of these cheap novels. Entire theses could be written on the effect of these novels at the time; some would say it was positive because they let closeted gay men know that they weren't alone in the world, while others would say they helped to promote the idea that to be gay was shameful and should be kept secret. But social commentary aside, we just love the art work and cover tag lines. Mr. Queen? Come on, it just doesn't get any better than that.
(to read more about this era, click on "Gay Issues - Gay History" and "Gay Issues - Gladiator Movies" in the Labels list)

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