Buying Gay - How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement Book
Buying Gay - How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement Book

Buying Gay - How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement Book

Regular price £20.00 Sale price£18.80 Save 6%
Tax included.

  • Low stock - 1 item left
  • Inventory on the way
  • Free Delivery on UK orders over £70
  • Discreet Packaging

In 1951, a new type of publication appeared on newsstands―the physique magazine produced by and for gay men. For many men growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, these magazines and their images and illustrations of nearly naked men, as well as articles, letters from readers, and advertisements, served as an initiation into gay culture.

The publishers behind them were part of a wider world of “physique entrepreneurs”: men as well as women who ran photography studios, mail-order catalogs, pen-pal services, book clubs, and niche advertising for gay audiences. Such businesses have often been seen as peripheral to the gay political movement. In this book, David K. Johnson shows how gay commerce was not a byproduct but rather an important catalyst for the gay rights movement.

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 centre 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.

"An accessible, detailed and riveting journey into the pioneering early gay physique zine industry."

"An excellent reminder of just how much the early gay political movement was tied to markets and consumer capitalism."
Marginal Revolution

"Buying Gay challenges prevailing gay historiography, which has long been dominated by leftist and even socialist 'queer' analyses averse to capitalism and American society itself. . . . Even taking Stonewall into consideration, gay activists have achieved their greatest victories not in trying to overturn society, but rather by broadening it. And as Buying Gay shows, they were most effective when using the tools of bourgeois capitalism."
James Kirchick "Times Literary Supplement "

"Buying Gay is a thorough, and extremely entertaining read that delights in several ways, and especially in terms of David K. Johnson's analysis of the tropes of physique magazines."

"Buying Gay is meticulously researched, well written, and, like the best scholarship, demands that we rethink ideas we have taken for granted in the light of compelling new data."
Katherine Sender "Advertising & Society Quarterly "

"A deeply researched, beautifully written work that deserves the broadest possible readership."
New England Quarterly

"Bodies politic and visual are at the heart of David K. Johnson's well-written and extensively researched book. . . . Johnson documents the birth and decline of the physique industries with a deep dive into original and secondary sources, crafting a creative and challenging rethinking of the prologue to the explosion of the LGBTQ movements."
Marc J. Stern "Business History Review "

"David Johnson's Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement is an important contribution to several fields: American cultural history, queer history and histories of capitalism and consumerism to name just a few. Buying Gay breaks down binaries between capitalist and entrepreneur on the one hand and queer subject and activist on the other, arguing that commercial activity by gay entrepreneurs contributed to community building and progressive change."
Justin Bengry "Advertising & Society Quarterly "

"David K. Johnson's Buying Gay is a groundbreaking work that reshapes how we think about queer history and its political movements. Johnson explores the barely underground world of pre-Stonewall publishing that shaped LGBT life, politics, and promotion of a gay identity. Johnson's lucid writing and enthralling story startlingly remaps and complicates movement history, suggesting that an army of consumers cannot lose."
Michael Bronski, author of A Queer History of the United States

Author David K. Johnson
Format Paperback
ISBN 9780231189118


UK Orders

Takes approximately 1-3 working days to arrive, (but can take longer during busy periods like bank holidays or Pride Month)

Orders under £40 can't be tracked, but do have a barcode on which Royal Mail scan on delivery.

Orders over £40 are sent with full tracking.

International Orders

Some international orders arrive in around 5 days (mostly to Europe) and some take 2 months.

There are also sometimes customs delays.

We can not be held responsible if your order does not arrive for a certain date.

Find out more about deliveries in the UK here.

Find out more about deliveries to the EU here.

Find out more about deliveries to the rest of the world (non-EU) here.

We understand that some people need to be discreet. Everything we send out is in plain packaging with no reference to Gay Pride Shop.

Recently viewed