How to Be Gay in the 30’s

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Edwin and JohnEdwin and John: A Personal History of the American South
by James T. Sears
Routledge.  142 pages, $34.95

 

ONE REASON for the fragmentary nature of much of the gay historical record is the reticence on the part of members of earlier generations to discuss their lives directly. Even in the early decades of the 20th century, relatively few gay men had the opportunity to tell their story for posterity. This makes the publication of a book like James T. Sears’ Edwin and John: A Personal History of the American South a noteworthy event.

The product of years of interviews and back-and-forth editing with John A. Ziegler, now 97 years old, Edwin and John recounts Ziegler’s fifty-year relationship with his partner, Edwin Peacock. The book touches on everything from the 1930’s gay social scene in Washington, D.C., to the two men’s lengthy separation while participating in wartime efforts during World War II, their friendship with Carson McCullers, and their opening of a bookstore in Charleston, South Carolina, where they lived together for more than four decades.

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